Arguably one of the best front rowers to play for Manly was the Pommy ‘made of granite’, Kevin Ward. After his stint at the club which included the 1987 Winfield Cup, Manly required another ‘bookend’ to support the reliable local Phil Daley.
In 1988 the club to turned to former North Sydney stalwart and son of the North Sydney president, Don McKinnon in the hope he could provide the size and strength to allow the Eagles back line magicians like Lyons, O’Connor and Shearer to ply their trade.
Big Don had the set the record for the most first grade games for the Sea Eagles arch enemies the North Sydney Bears and the fact the he even contemplated joining the Silvertails was curious to say the least.
In the late 1980s Manly supporters foresaw another 1970s like golden age. The 1987 premiers were clearly the dominated team and 1988 started with a confident air of expectation in a new era of Rugby League which saw four new teams added to the competition. The new players were the Brisbane Broncos featuring the King, Wally Lewis and a bunch of up starts and no names from Newcastle along with the Illawarra Steelers and Gold Coast.
Therefore Round 1 in the 1988 season Manly supporters were at their arrogant best. The club travelled to LangPark in Brisbane to play against the new boys in the competition the Broncos. The 2 points were considered to be easy pickings against the NSWRL novices; even if they included cane toad Origin heroes like Lewis, Miles & Langer.
However the over confident Sea Eagles were ambushed and were flogged 48 to 10. This result would have made the headlines of most major metro newspapers on the eastern seaboard.
However an unusual occurrence by new Manly player and ex North Sydney Bear Don McKinnon stole the front page headlines. Don being a long, tall, well built lad was renowned for being well endowed in the bed flute department. Soon, after half time for some unexplained reason Don choose to ‘relieve’ himself of the juice from the half time oranges in the middle of LangPark.
A penalty had just been awarded to the Broncos and as the penalty kick was been taken Don nonchalantly lowered the bed flute from the shorts and pissed all over LangPark during the game. Unfortunately this irreverent act was caught by the live TV coverage and has since become folklore in Rugby League.
McKinnon was then known as Wee Donny and the fact he pissed all over the Broncos and LangPark on that fateful afternoon. Many comedians and wags on the hill had a field day with this effort.
It was not exactly the start the Sea Eagles were looking for from both the team and Wee Donny. The club appeared to have a premiership hang over of massive proportions as they struggled in the early part of the 1988 season.
However the Sea Eagles of 1987 clicked into gear against their mortal enemies the Parramatta Eels in Round 6 of the 1988 season. The Eagles flogged the slime by over 50 points on their own dung hill and the forwards lead by McKinnon, Cleal & Vautin paved the way for one of the clubs great victories.
However on that day the unstoppable McKinnon broke his collar bone whilst scoring a 30 metre try after a flowing back line movement. Showing surprising pace he out sprinted the defence but was crunched by the Eels on the try line. Even though he scored the try he fell to the ground awkwardly and the damage was done. This was the last game he played for the Sea Eagles and instead of being known for football Wee Donny is now known for the fact he exposed himself on national TV and he pissed on the Queenslanders.
I spoke to Don after the Sea Eagles game against Souths at North Sydney Oval in 2004, he said his heart was never on the Peninsula and he remained committed to the Bears even if they haven’t played in the NRL since 1999.
Don McKinnon – more a Bear than an Eagle!