Donald George Telford
- 232Wallaby Number
Don Telford was a tigerish prop forward, equally at home in the middle row, who built both an enviable reputation and a commanding list of representative honours during a long career with the Manly club. Husky, big, brawny, burly and naggingly consistent, Telford was a redoubtable forward who thoroughly earned the tag “pride of the [Manly] Village”. It was said that no more honest second-ranker had ever played with the club. In 1920 Telford starred with Manly Juniors and the following year played with the Manly second-grade team.
In 1923 he made his first grade debut and from that time was the the pillar of the always grand Manly pack. Two years later Telford made his representative debut when selected for Ted Thorn’s XV against the touring New Zealand side. A strong performance in that fixture earned him a spot on the return tour to the Dominion just seven weeks later. Telford appeared in eight of the 11 matches however he as not chosen for the one-off Test, which in a way may have been a blessing in disguise given the visitors were humbled 10-36 to an All Black side that included 14 of the its 1924/25 ‘Invincibles’.
In 1926 New Zealand returned to Australia and in the third match against New South Wales Telford, named as a reserve, came off the bench to replace Harry Woods. Although he did not know it at the time that match was Telford’s official Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated the remaining 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals were given Test status in 1986). A year later he was in the mix for selection on the Waratahs tour to the northern hemisphere when named in the No.4 Team for the trials. However, when all came to pass, Woods, Bruce Judd, Mal Blair and Jim Tancred secured the four prop spots in the 29-man squad.
Telford did not tour New Zealand in 1928 however he returned to the representative scene in 1929 to play a “rattling game in the pigs” at lock for New South Wales in their 0-0 draw with New Zealand. Unfortunately rugby had resumed in Queensland that season and all of a sudden the national selectors had the ability to choose players from three states – New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. That development dramatically increased the level of competition for all places over the next few seasons and although Telford went within a whisker of a second test cap when named as a reserve for the first Test in Sydney his national career came to a close.
Nonetheless in 1930 Telford enjoyed one of his finest moments in the blue jersey, in what was his final representative match, when the home side thumped the departing British Lions 28-3 at the S.C.G. Two years later, and still running around with Manly, Telford made a wonderful ‘comeback' but missed out to Judd and Geoff Storey for the key NSW v. QLD trial and then to Geoff Bland and Tom Perrin for the Australia v. The Rest trial for the 1933 tour to South Africa. The season did end on a high note as Telford scored Manly’s only try in their 12-9 win over Drummoyne to win the first grade grand final. He continued to play grade with Manly until the end of the 1934 season before he enjoyed two years with the Police Xv in the mid-week ’A’ division competition.
Don Telford played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #232.
Telford won his first Test cap off the bench at prop when he replaced Harry Woods (shoulder injury) in the 0-14, 3rd Test loss to New Zealand at the Sydney Showground.