All posts by mightypanthers

PLAYERS | Norm Gilligan


Panther 77

22 matches [1972-1973]

76 points [6 tries, 28 goals]


Seven Hills (Parramatta) junior who played for Wentworthville in the Second Division before joining the Panthers.

He made his first grade debut for the Panthers in Round 6, 1972 coming off the bench against Newtown at Henson Park. Three weeks later he made his first starting appearance in the centres. At season’s end he had played in a total of 14 matches, and in the final month was the first choice goal kicker, finishing with 43 points and as the club’s top point scorer.

Gilligan would make 9 appearances in 1973 with a points tally haul of 33 points.

He would not play anymore first grade for Penrith after that season and later in the decade moved to Redcliffe in the Brisbane competition.

PLAYERS | Bob Mara


Panther 32

22 matches [1968-1969]

38 points [12 tries, 1 field goal]


Winger who made his first grade debut at Balmain in 1959 and played 9 seasons at the Tigers including two grand final appearances in 1964 and 1966.

In 1968, he moved to the Panthers. He crossed for three tries in the preseason final victory over Newtown and would continue to find a nose for the try line during the premiership season, scoring nine in 17 matches, and finishing the season as the club’s top try scorer. Included in the points tally was one field goal, a match winning one kicked against his old team at Penrith Park.

Mara would be restricted to only 5 first grade matches in 1969 scoring 3 tries. He would retire at the end of that season.

He was later inducted into the Balmain Tigers fall of fame. He passed away in 2014.

PANTHER TALES | Second Division

In 1963 the New South Wales Rugby Football League (NSWRFL) established an Inter-District Competition – it was designed to complement the then Sydney competition with another ten teams based in the Sydney metropolitan area, one of them being a team from Penrith.

The other nine teams were Wentworthville, Arncliffe, Liverpool, Bankstown, Kingsford, Ryde-Eastwood, Sydney University, Guildford and Cronulla-Caringbah.

Their colours were royal blue and white and would play their home games at Penrith Showground. Former Balmain five-eighth Ron Clifford was appointed as captain-coach.

In the first season, Penrith were one of the front runners in the first half of the season, returning 5 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses in the first nine rounds. However, they could only muster four wins in the second half of the season and narrowly missed out on the top four at the end of the final round.

In 1964, the competition was re-branded as the Second Division, with a desire to perhaps create an English style promotion-relegation system. This was the year that the Panthers were adopted as their name, with graphic designer Deidre Copeland winning the logo design competition, with a panther leaping through the letter ‘P’. Gone was Ron Clifford and in his place was another former Sydney premiership player in Bill McCall, who was recruited from Parramatta and appointed as captain-coach.

In May, the Panthers were invited to participate in the State Cup, a knockout competition involving the 10 Sydney premiership clubs and a select number of other clubs. In a massive upset, the then Second Division front runners knocked off Canterbury at Penrith Park. However, they would be knocked off two weeks later against North Sydney.

In the second half of the season, the Panthers faltered and fell down as low as fourth but won their final three matches to finish third behind Wentworthville and Ryde-Eastwood, with 12 wins and 6 losses from 18 matches.

In the first week semi-final, Penrith defeated Guildford 15-10 at Ringrose Park, with forward Colin Piper scoring the match winning try with only five minutes remaining. They would advance to the final the following week but would go down to Ryde-Eastwood 17-9.

In the opening rounds of the 1965 season Penrith were based at nearby Jamison Park before returning to Penrith Park in May. At the halfway point, the Panthers were the competition leaders with just the solitary loss after nine matches. However they would get pipped on the minor premiership in the final rounds by Wentworthville and finish second.

In the semi-final the following week Wentworthville crushed Penrith 37-0 at Ringrose Park. But given Penrith’s second place finish they were given a second chance and faced off against Arncliffe at McCredie Park. Penrith sneaked home 12-9 to qualify for the grand final, where once again they would face off against Wentworthville.

In a one-sided decider Wentworthville recorded a decisive 31-3 victory with Paul Hatton scoring the solitary points for Penrith.

Come 1966 there were plans to expand the Sydney premiership with two new teams to be invited from the Second Division. Cronulla-Sutherland were to be one of the teams, and both Wentworthville and Penrith were vying for the second spot. As history shows Penrith were officially granted the second spot in July.

Meanwhile, in the Second Division, it had been reduced to an eight team competition with Kingsford and Bankstown withdrawing from the competition. At the halfway point, the Panthers were sitting in fourth spot with a three and three record. Weeks later when they were officially given the green light to join the Sydney premiership they had fallen outside the top four but somewhat buoyed by the good news they rallied and finished the regular season in third spot with 8 wins from 13 matches.

In the first week semi final they defeated Arncliffe and the following week defeated their fellow promotion partner Cronulla-Sutherland to earn a spot in their second straight grand final, once again against Wentworthville.

This time they erased the pain of the pain of the previous year with a heart stopping 2 point victory. Wentworthville led 7-3 at half time but three penalty conversions to Bob Landers in the second half saw the Panthers win the Bill Buckley Shield.

As a side note, Landers was one of 9 starting players that would form part of the first grade squad for Penrith’s debut year in the Sydney premiership in 1967, including former Kangaroo Tony Brown who would lead the Panthers out in their first ever premiership match on 2 April 1967.

PLAYERS | Billy Burns


Panther 592

2 matches [2019]

8 points [2 tries]


Parkes junior who started at Penrith with the Under 18s SG Ball team before moving up the grades. He was named as one of the development players for the 2019 NRL squad.

Predominantly a second rower, he became the ninth player to make his NRL debut for the Panthers in 2019, coming off the bench against the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the second to last premiership round. His second appearance the following week saw him score two second half tries in their 54-10 demolition of Newcastle in the final round.

PLAYERS | Matt Burton


Panther 590

1 match [2019]

0 points


Dubbo junior who started the 2019 season in Jersey Flegg before moving further up to Canterbury Cup.

Injuries and suspension saw the 19-year old earn a NRL debut in August, starting at five-eighth, and in the first half had a try assist when he punched a well timed grubber kick in to the in goal.

It would his solitary appearance in the NRL for 2019 given the club were granted an exemption to name him as he was outside the club’s 30-man roster and played out the season in the Canterbury Cup.

PLAYERS | Stephen Crichton


Panther 589

4 matches [2019]

0 points


Samoan born St. Clair junior who was named as one of the development players in the NRL squad for 2019 after spending the 2018 season in the Under 18s SG Ball team. He started the season in the Jersey Flegg before moving up to the Canterbury Cup.

The younger brother of former NRL winger Christian, he earnt a NRL debut in August against Cronulla, starting on the wing. It would be the first of a total four appearances in the final month of the premiership season.

PLAYERS | Spencer Leniu


Panther 591

5 matches [2019]

0 points


Auckland born Minchinbury junior who was one of the development players in the NRL squad for 2019, and starting the season as the Jersey Flegg captain and then moving up to the Canterbury Cup.

With the tag of “wrecking ball” in the lower grades, the forward made his NRL debut at 18 when he was called up in August 2019, coming off the bench in the 24-20 victory over the Sharks. He was able to hold his spot in the 17 for the remainder of the year, finishing with 5 NRL appearances.