League legend Mark Graham: man of faith

The Catholic faith may not be the first thought that springs to mind when you think of former Kiwi legend and captain Mark Graham.

Graham is generally regarded as the greatest of all New Zealand rugby league players.

Risking Marist brotherly displeasure

The 68-year-old Kiwi forward is also a staunch Catholic, a Marist-schooled lad.

Faith is a huge part of his life, says the St Paul’s College Auckland old boy.

“People go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a real rugby league school.’

“I tell them it wasn’t when I went there.

“Rugby league was on the bottom rung for a long time.

“We organised ourselves to play in a secondary schools league competition during a holiday period, trained ourselves and wore our first XV jerseys.

“The school was really upset with us until we told them we won it. There were no rugby league schools then. It was all first XV.”

The movie

“My father is proudly a working man, wants to get his hands dirty to earn his money, and he did so right up until he retired” says his film-maker son, Luke Graham.

“He never wanted a cruisy media job or anything like that. I’d always wondered why.

“It was because of his father Thomas who … always took the most challenging road – my father did the same in spades.”

Graham junior’s docudrama – called Sharko – will get its first public airings at the Doc Edge Festival.

It will be in New Zealand main centres in June and July. It is due for a theatrical release later this year.

It concentrates somewhat on the 1985 series between the Kiwis and an Australian side peppered with greats.

“We show you this amazing footage – it’s amazing what you notice when you go through old film” Graham junior says.

Screen Australia and Screen Queensland gave fantastic support and Graham junior put in “a big chunk” of his own money.

He says the result is a film “touching on parenthood, fatherhood through generations, a sprinkle of a few things – if rugby league isn’t your cup of tea, you can connect with the family story”.


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News category: New Zealand.

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