South Sydney Rabbitohs legend John Sutton announces retirement


He’s worn cardinal and myrtle for almost a decade and stood like a cardinal at the end of it.

One by one his teammates lined up to approach and embrace him, a Rabbitoh royalty who is finally leaving the only church he’s ever known – at least in regards to playing. Greg Inglis felt compelled to be there, watching from a side door. Todd Greenberg broke from the NRL chief executives’ conference down the road to present Sutton with his 300-game ring, the only player to achieve the feat for the “pride of the league.”

I’m not sure we ever would have got there if the board wasn’t able to rebuild this club – and rebuild the club around John Sutton.

Shane Richardson

Sutton spoke of what South Sydney meant to him, but the real question was how much does Sutton mean to South Sydney?

“I’m not sure we ever would have got there if the board wasn’t able to rebuild this club –and rebuild the club around John Sutton,” general manager of football Shane Richardson said.

For the last few weeks Russell Crowe has been texting Richardson. The club has got one spot left on its 30-man roster for next year. It’s been thought for months Sutton was unlikely to go on, but Crowe has been telling Richardson to keep the position open.

But Mr South Sydney just can’t go on one more year.

Wayne Bennett sat at the end of the table and joked he’s thankful Sutton has had enough because he thought they were going to lose him on a sandhill last summer. Typical of the man and the club, he returned.

“I never thought I’d play 100 games, 200 games … so to play 300 games for a club I love is just amazing,” Sutton said. “I’m truly blessed. It’s been a rollercoaster. Growing up in the area and playing for the juniors, it’s just in me. I think my mum would probably kill me if I tried to leave. It’s been easy for me to stay here.”

Souths favourite: John Sutton will finish his career as a member of the 300-plus-game club.Credit:AAP

Even when he found a young lady to date, Sutton was wooed by a South Sydney fan. He now has two kids with his wife Stacey, who told of her husband having to sleep a lot more than usual lately as he tries to recover from the brutality of playing NRL each week.

“My dad is a massive Souths fan,” Stacey joked. “When I brought him home my dad was the happiest man ever. He’s like, ‘yes, yes, yes’.”

And her husband’s love for Souths?

“Oh my God, he loves the club,” she said. “He is so passionate about it. You can even see from his interview today, I thought the tears were just about to come. He just held back.

“The one word I use to describe John is that he’s humble. He’s loyal, he’s humble and that shows through his footy. It’s not just his footy, it’s his family and friends.”

The first time Richardson signed a young Sutton, who made his debut in 2004, he brought a case of Crown Lager around to his father’s house. John snr said no one could leave until they’d finished the case and agreed a deal. Richardson had to cancel dinner plans, but has been dining out on the signature ever since.

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One day Sutton came home and told his father he had an offer from the Roosters.

“And I went off,” John snr said.

John jnr had to tell him he was only joking.

Bennett’s always in fine form for the ones he admires most, asking Sutton why he hadn’t an introduction to his Bra Boys mates yet. He thought it might be because he doesn’t have enough tattoos.

But how can you beat someone with a rabbit on their foot, typifying a man red and green from head to toe.

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