Messenger, Brown and Burge anointed as Immortals
“Very proud and very happy to accept the award on behalf of the family,” said Messenger’s grandson, Cameron Messenger.
“It’s fantastic, it’s a great acknowledgement of the history of the game. One thing that came through from the stories from my uncle and my father who knew Dally, was that he was a very humble guy.
“He would be very happy to accept the award with the other nominees Frank Burge and Dave Brown.”
A part of the first touring Kangaroos side to England, Messenger’s elevation to Immortal status bestows the only honour that had previously eluded him.
Brown was a teenage prodigy, entering the first-grade ranks for Easts at the age of 16. He was soon captaining his club and country and the headgear he wore during the 1933-34 Kangaroos tour become his trademark.
Like Messenger, Burge also played union, making his first-grade debut at just 14. He was the youngest debutant in either code, a record that still stands. Burge scored 146 tries from 154 first grade games, a remarkable record for a forward.
Brown’s niece, Judy Guthrie, said the family was elated over the honour.
“It’s a bit hard to put into words. So proud,” Guthrie said.
“We were always hopeful this would happen, but it’s just for our family, we know how good he was and what a beautiful uncle he was. We never saw him play but just seeing what he did and how he was for us as an uncle and seeing snippets on tele, very very proud.
“He would be very humbled. To know what he did in football is special but as a man he was gentle and humble. He would shy away from this recognition.”
The judging panel – comprising Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton, Andrew Johns, Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould, Ray Warren, Ian Heads and Norm Tasker – considered 10 nominees for Immortals status.
The occasion doubled as an opportunity to also formally inducts six new additions – Petero Civoniceva, Mark Graham, Cliff Lyons, Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart and Gorden Tallis – to the NRL Hall of Fame.