IT was always a good sign when Terry Randall, coming from down low, went up under somebody's ribcage and left them, moments later, on the ground twitching. The twitch was good. It meant they were still alive.
Terry Randall - who played in Manly's 1972 Grand Final - at work where he runs an excavating business. Picture: Phil Hillyard Source: The Daily Telegraph
Terry Randall shows signs of his involvement in all-in brawl between players during a Manly v Wests game at Brookvale Oval in Sydney in 1979. Picture: Graham Noad Source: The Daily Telegraph
"I hit a bloke at Cootamundra one day in a trial," he says. "I thought I'd killed him."
He can't remember the bloke's name or even the team, and forget about the score.
But he remembers every detail about the man.
He was about six-foot-one in the old scale, had a beard and played front row, weighed about 100kg and he had this beautiful upright running style - beautiful for Randall, because it was this bloke's near-fatal mistake.
"I used to love 'em running upright," he says.
"You could get up under the ribcage, using your body as a launch, as a weapon."
This day, nothing moved when the big bloke hit the deck.
He just went thud like a slab of beef would when dropped from a meat truck, and his teammates came in with their chests puffed out as if they were going to do something masculine, when everybody in the opposition knew they weren't, and Randall stood there like men do when they conquer others.
Randall was rugby league's original hit man. He played second row in Manly's first premiership 40 years ago in 1972 and was there for the Sea Eagles' next three, in '73, '76 and '78. And his name is still spoken about, with proper reverence, whenever somebody new comes on the scene who can whack a little.
They think differently, these men.
A right hand from Terry Randall (R) misses Trevor Riordan and heads towards George Piggins during a disagreement between South Sydney (Souths) and Manly in 1976. Picture: News Limited. Source: The Daily Telegraph
Where most remember the great tries, the big wins, Randall remembers the times he left men on the deck, a groan, that internal scream, leaking out of them.
He is a man you thought would never grow old and so it is a reminder of life's journey to find him 61 now, retired from the game more than 30 years.
He was a qualified greenkeeper as a player but soon after retiring drove a cement truck, then ended up landscaping and, from that, started Randall's Excavations and Earth Moving.
Last week he was moving dirt from a site in Turramurra, where life is an eight-tonne tipper, a small excavator and a bobcat.
"I still do most of it myself," he says. "It's hard work, but I enjoy it.
"I've always liked hard work. The old man was much the same."
He no longer goes to the football as often as he did, and rarely attends Manly reunions. It goes back eight years to when the Sea Eagles let son Chad drift without an offer but also refused to allow him to negotiate elsewhere, which eventually left him without a club. Randall always felt the club was family, and there are ways to treat family.
"I rang (then executive director Paul) Cummings and said I don't need that treatment and, because he is my son, he certainly doesn't either," Randall says. "I told him that the club is ... whatever, and I haven't been back much since."
Instead he concentrates on his business, working long and honest days, getting paid in sweat and effort. No different from when he was a player.
"I put a lot of effort into it," he says. "It's a personal thing."