1960s : Ken Thornett (ball) tackled by Dave Barsley during Parramatta v Wests game in 1960s. Pic News Limited.
Historical
Rugby League A/CT

Parramatta Eels player number 214, Hall of fame and Team of the Century member Ken Thornett has passed away, aged 78.

Ken was one of the Eels true legends with the Clubs highest annual honour named after him as well as the western grandstand at Parramatta Stadium.

In February 2008, Thornett was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.

Eels Chairman Max Donnelly said that Ken will be remembered as one of the major influences on the development of Parramatta and that he will hold a special place in the Club’s history.

“Ken had an enormous impact on our club and it is with great sadness that we hear of his passing today."

“Along with his brother Dick, Ken made the Eels a competitive force during his time becoming one of the most feared fullbacks in the 1960’s and instilling a professionalism that was the forerunner for our success in the 1970’s and 80’s." 

"I have spoken to Mrs Thornett this morning and offered the Club’s sincere condolences to her and Ken’s family," said Mr Donnelly.

Ken began his career playing rugby union with the famous Randwick rugby club before switching to rugby league in 1961, originally with English side Leeds.

He returned to Australia for the 1962 NSW Rugby League season where he signed with Parramatta and built a famous reputation as “the Mayor of Parramatta”.

Ken Thornett played only seven games in his first season but was instrumental in lifting Parramatta to their first-ever finals position after having taken eight “wooden spoons” between 1952 and 1961.

Ken, along with his brother Dick, were instrumental in the Eels teams between 1962 and 1968, totalling 130 games for the Blue and Golds. He returned for one season in 1971 alongside Dick helping the team to fourth position before finally hanging up the boots.

Ken played a total of 12 Tests for Australia, three against each Great Britain and New Zealand, five against France and one against South Africa.

The players will be wearing black armbands for Sunday’s game against the Canberra Raiders and the Club is planning a major tribute at its Round 25 game at Parramatta Stadium.

The Thornett family have informed the Club that it will be a private funeral by invitation only.