GERRINGONG’S favourite son Mick Cronin has been named the inaugural Champion of Parramatta, the highest honour bestowed upon an Eels player.
Cronin was named the inaugural winner at a gala dinner on Wednesday night from a star-studded line-up that included fellow greats Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Ken Thornett and Steve Ella.
In typical Mick Cronin fashion, he didn’t have much to say about the award.
“I’m a bit embarrassed about it all but very honoured,” he said.
“With these sorts of things a lot of people miss out.
“It is something I certainly didn’t expect.
“The club has a lot of history. I don’t know how they judged it. You had the likes of Ken Thornett, who brought a lot of credibility to the club, then there was Dick Thornett, Hanley etc, and then onto the likes of Sterlo, Price, Kenny, Grothe, Ella to name just a few.
“It is pretty special to be the inaugural winner.
“I went to the Eels for one or two years and stayed 10. This is something I didn’t expect when I went there.”
He said the highlight of his career was “definitely the four premiership wins”.
Cronin represented Australia while still playing in the country for Gerringong, and initially resisted urges to move to Sydney.
He eventually joined Parramatta in 1977 and played 216 games for the Eels, winning four premierships (1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986).
He scored 1971 points for the Eels, with 75 tries, 865 goals and two field goals. At the time of his retirement in 1986, he was the greatest point-scorer in the history of the NSWRL premiership.
Among a host of records to his credit he was also the competition’s leading point-scorer in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982 and 1985.
Alongside teammate Ray Price, he enjoyed a fairytale end to his career in the 1986 grand final where he kicked both goals in the Eels' 4–2 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown.
Cronin also played 29 games for NSW, including the inaugural State of Origin in 1980, and went down in folklore after his then Parramatta teammate Arthur Beetson hit him with a swinging arm high tackle.
He also played 33 tests for Australia.
Cronin was named Country Player of the Year in 1974; won unprecedented back-to-back Rothmans Medals in 1977–78; was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to the sport of rugby league in 1985; was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame and named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.
A grandstand at Parramatta Stadium is named in his honour.