Phil Blake, as a prodigious 18 year old fresh from school boy footy with Christian Bros Manly, burst onto the Rugby League scene like a tornado in the winter of 1982 as he tore apart opposition defences with his elusive speed and his trademark chip and regather.
As the tries flowed, the Rugby League world anointed this talented half backs arrival with the 1982 Dally M Rookie of the Year award. Further success followed in 1983 when he scored a club record 27 tries in the season, this record still stands today.
Blakey quickly became a crowd favourite due to his spectacular try scoring ability and his boyish good looks had the Eagle Angels of the 1980s in gaga land.
At the end of the regular season in 1983, Phil was being compared to Manly greats of the past like Bob Fulton such was the excitement of the fans who have witnessed his rare talent in the home and away games. He was part of an exceptional Manly side that won the minor premiership by a proverbial country mile.
However Jack Gibsons Parramatta side which contained the likes of Price, Ella, Sterling, Kenny and Cronin cleverly exposed Blakes defensive inadequacies in the 1983 decider and we totally outplayed and lost the unlosable grand final.
The torch that shone so brightly for Phil in those 2 glorious years started to fade the following season as his was targeted by opposition sides in defence and his confidence started to wane. He remained if first grade for another 3 seasons but did spend the odd Sunday afternoon playing in the Reggies as the club tried to restore his shattered confidence and defensive technique.
At the end of 1986 Phil left the Sea Eagles for greener pastures, during his 90 game career at Manly he scored 63 tries and kicked 7 field goals.
He played at a number of clubs over the next decade including Warrington in the UK, Souths, Norths, Canberra, St George and the Warriors. This led more than one cynic to say he played at more clubs than Slim Dusty.
His longevity in first grade was commendable and he would be satisfied looking back on his career in the knowledge that he gave his best on the field and there would be only a handful of footballers would have played more first grade games than him.
He returned to Manly for the 1998 pre season in the hope of having a final fling at his original club but he announced his retirement from Rugby League before the season proper commenced. He had an unsuccessful foray into coaching as the Assistant Coach of Craig Coleman at South Sydney, dont hold that against him though has there been any successful coaches of Souths in the last 20 years?
Phil Blake a talent unfilled in the Maroon and White.