NO matter how long rugby is played on the northern beaches, Tony Miller's record will never be broken. The legendary "Slaggy" played 342 games for Manly across 23 seasons - all of them in the forwards in an era where tap dancing on a prostrate opponent was de rigueur. He also racked up 41 Tests for the Wallabies and found time for more than 100 representative games, once famously asking the team doctor to punch him as hard as he could in the ribs to test whether he'd be right for an upcoming Test. (He played.)
Despite the fact Miller later slipped up the road to coach Manly's enemy Warringah, Manly Council named the Manly Oval grandstand after him following the great man's death in 1988. That stand was pulled down 10 years later, replaced by the current flying saucer in 2002. When it reopened amid much fanfare, there was one thing missing - Tony Miller's name. Save for a corroding plaque hidden away on the side of the stand, there is no trace of Slaggy.
The late legend's family has been fighting to have his name re-instated on the grandstand but have hit roadblocks and silence for close to two decades. His son Robbie, who played for both Manly and Warringah, told the Northern Beaches Review the family's request was a simple one. "It's pretty basic what we're after - just to have the name restored to the grandstand," Robbie said. "We did push it hard initially and got nowhere, but it would mean a lot to us to have it back. For what he did for rugby in Manly and the Manly area in general, no-one's going to reach his milestones."
Northern Beaches Council inherited the matter from the old Manly Council and has promised the Millers it will look into replacing or sprucing up the plaque. But it has not committed to returning the name to the stand.
Manly Rugby Club president Cameron Douglas is backing the Miller family's campaign. "Slaggy's feats for Manly rugby and the game in general are legendary," he said. "From a rugby perspective, I can think of no more fitting person to name a stand at Manly Oval after and I don't think anyone would have a problem with it. If they hadn't replaced the old stand his name would still be there, so it makes sense to return it."
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