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Issue 65 - December 2016 This magazine made possible by

OH WHAT A FEELING!

JAMIESON GETS A LIFT HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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GO ALL OUT UNTIL THE

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016


IN THIS EDITION 5 6-7 8 10-11 12 16-17 18-19 21 22-24 30-31 34-35 38 44-45 46-47 49 50-51 52-53 56-57

‘59-60 ‘Roos special bond Luke Lewis Leesons get a lift Ron Atkins Our joint Christmas efforts Lewis and Wells honoured Greg Brentnall ‘Mitch’ a grass roots hero Kangaroos regain crown Mark Bunting’s tour of duty Errol Stock Norm Provan is back Stephen Cartwright Eric Weissel BMD back Foundation Tony Currie History of Brisbane rugby league Harry Jepson

PLUS THE REGULARS: 14 Events calendar 25 League trivia 33/54 Committee Profiles: Townsville / Central Coast 26-29 Helping Hand 36-37 Around the Grounds 40-43 Tributes 59-69 Committee news EDITOR: Neil Cadigan (editor@menofleague.com) DESIGN: Nine Ounces ADVERTISING: Nine Ounces Phone: (02) 4324 6962 www.nineounces.com www.menofleague.com DEADLINES: Deadline for submitted material for the next edition: 27 January 2017

NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS Patron: The Hon John Fahey AC Chairman: Ron Coote AM Treasurer: Geoff Thoroughgood Directors: Mark Gasnier, Brad Howell, Professor The Hon Stephen Martin, Alan Sullivan QC, Darryl Van de Velde and Helen Wood Grant WELFARE COMMITTEE Ray Beattie OAM, Ben Ross, Geoff Thoroughgood and Ken Vessey

FROM THE

CHAIRMAN Ron Massey the great rugby league judge passed away on 19 September. ‘Mass’ was a rugby league man who loved the game. He was an adviser to Jack Gibson and could see things in the game that not many others could see. ‘Mass’ had a lot to do with the success the Roosters had in the 1974 and 1975 premiership teams and I am sure it would have been the same at Parramatta in their success in the early 1980s. He was a great man who loved to help rugby league people. Harry Wells, the former Test centre of the 1950s and 1960s, was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in Melbourne in October. In November Harry was also inducted into the NSW Hall Of Fame. It was a fitting reward for a great rugby league man.

EXECUTIVE Chief Executive Officer: Peter Collins Welfare & Education Manager: Ben Ross Financial Controller: Emile Assaf Operations Manager: Sandra Hopwood Membership Manager: Richard Mills Finance Assistant: Kerry Brown NSW State Manager: Stuart Raper QLD State Manager: Frank Barrett QLD Welfare & Education Officer: Mark Bunting QLD Events & Administration: Kristy West QLD Administration: Belinda Perry Media, Marketing & Sponsorship: Louise Duff

Harry played 29 Test matches for Australia, many of them as the centre partner to the great Reg Gasnier. Harry, who is 84 years old, spoke at these presentations about his career with passion. The Men of League Foundation was able to bring Ken McCaffery to Sydney from the far north coast of New South Wales to attend the farewell to the Kangaroos. Ken, aged 87, was a great Australian player of the 1950s and was able to mix with current and former players. He enjoyed the day and flew home in the afternoon. Thank you for your continued support of the Foundation throughout 2016. I wish you a happy and safe Christmas with family and loved ones. All the very best for 2017. Ron Coote, AM

ceo@menofleague.com ben@menofleague.com emile@menofleague.com sandra@menofleague.com richard@menofleague.com kerry@menofleague.com stuart@menofleague.com frank@menofleague.com mark@menofleague.com kristy@menofleague.com belinda@menofleague.com lduff@nineounces.com

NSW & CENTRAL OFFICE Level 3, Eastern Grandstand, ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127 PO Box 7049, Silverwater NSW 2128 Phone: 02 8765 2232 Fax: 02 8765 2808 QLD OFFICE QRL Office, 83 Castlemaine Street, Milton QLD 4064 PO Box 1217, Milton QLD 4064 Phone: 07 3367 6080 Fax: 07 3367 3464

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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YOUR MEN OF LEAGUE LOCAL CONTACTS NEW SOUTH WALES CANBERRA MONARO President: Noel Bissett 0407 597 533 Secretary: Susan Gerrard 0406 378 086 CENTRAL COAST President: Don Parish 0414 353 141 Secretary: Trevor Andrews 0412 694 857 CENTRAL WEST President: John Lasker 02 6852 2477 Secretary: Norm Cook 0458 658 827 FAR SOUTH COAST President: Terry Dickson 0429 449 058 Secretary: Sheldon Wykes ILLAWARRA President: Peter Fitzgerald 0412 263 733 Secretary: Barry Harle 0400 845 424 MACARTHUR/STH HIGHLANDS President: Ron McEntee 0448 118 789 Secretary: Stephen Hazelton 0450 010 770 MID NORTH COAST President: Brian Atherton 0427 523 818 Secretary: Kevin Rayment 0427 533 644 MID WEST President: Badger Babbage 0428 164 398 Secretary: Elwyn Lang 0429 721 266 NEWCASTLE HUNTER President: Garry Leo 0400 421 767 Secretary: Peter Corcoran 0413 453 473 NORTH COAST President: Peter Barrett 0414 227 068 Secretary: Terry Clark NORTH WEST President: Don Pascoe 0477 132 456 Secretary: John Campbell 0408 421 065

SOUTH COAST President: David Hayward 0405 102 361 Secretary: Carol Weller 0408 478 043

GOLD COAST President: Ian Amos 0417 005 180 Secretary: Wayne Thompson 0413 818 807

SOUTHERN MONARO President: John Bedingfield Secretary: Tom Herbert 0419 215 103

GOONDIWINDI President: Trevor Brown 0417 213 686 Secretary: Col Trehearn 0427 712 679

SOUTHERN SYDNEY President: Terry Hughes 0447 488 052 Secretary: Bruce Thompson 0419 475 465

GYMPIE President: Ross Groundwater 0408 825 466 Secretary: Greg Pountney 0432 397 974

SYDNEY METRO President: Henry Morris OAM 0418 115 706 Secretary: Seamus O'Connell 0411 126 060

MACKAY President: Paul Hudson 0450 737 130 Secretary: Alf Abdullah 0417 752 694

TUGGERAH LAKES President: Denis Smith 0415 433 976 Secretary: Terry Wand 0438 521 736

ROCKHAMPTON President: Shane Nipperess 0407 267 955 Secretary: Dominique McGregor 0411 446 939

TWEED DISTRICT President: John Strong 0421 971 586 Secretary: Michael Howard 0410 655 987

ROMA President: Owen Lingard 0400 496 507 Secretary: Jason Coonan 0419 729 857

UPPER HUNTER President: Paul Medd 0409 482 297 Vice President: Peter Collins 0419 763 279

SUNSHINE COAST President: Don Oxenham 0409 849 161 Secretary: Barry Marsden 0402 654 231

WESTERN REGION Secretary: Ross Tighe 02 6882 4649 Vice President: Bryson Luff 0438 058 563

TOOWOOMBA REGION President: Andrew O’Brien 0417 748 489 Secretary: Rick Laing 0419 212 522

WESTERN SYDNEY President: Steve Winbank Secretary: Garry O'Donnell 0418 699 257

TOWNSVILLE President: Mark Williams 0409 894 427 Secretary: Terry Feeney 0488 000 899

QLD AND AFFILIATED STATES BRISBANE President: Ian Gatenby 0412 038 013 Secretary: Vance Rennie 07 3350 6436

NORTHERN RIVERS Patron: Bob Abbott AM Secretary: Tony Cicchinelli 02 6621 3096 Media Officer: Barry Cheadle 02 6686 2977

BUNDABERG DISTRICT President: Terry Dodd 0414 526 828 Secretary: Greg Pershouse 0416 242 566

NORTHERN SYDNEY President: Trevor Bailey 0414 843 600 Secretary: Jim Phelan 0419 414 759

CENTRAL HIGHLANDS President: Mick Roach 0439 079 686 Secretary: RJ Stewart 0407 766 841

PENRITH President: Alex McKenzie 0414 330 651 Secretary: Adam Przybyla 0407 847 312

FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND President: John McAllister 0409 722 455 Membership Officer: Peter Narducci 0409 554 844

RIVERINA President: Dave Mulrooney 0438 017 428 Secretary: Ian Lloyd 0457 850 384

FRASER COAST President: Kev Embrey 0427 250 545 Secretary: Jeffrey Bacchi 0419 729 857

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

VICTORIA President: Peter Foreman 0439 533 171 Secretary: Greg Brentnall 03 8412 4905 NORTHERN TERRITORY President: Dave Cannon 0428 895 211 Secretary: John Barry 0417 732 660 WESTERN AUSTRALIA President: James Sullivan 0414 733 083 Secretary: Justin Reid 0403 012 252

QLD STATE COMMITTEE Qld State Manager: Frank Barrett Chairman: Darryl Van de Velde Vice Chairman: Pete Psaltis Treasurer: Tony Woodgate Committee: Ken Brown, Mark Donlan, Darryl Foster, Wally Fullerton-Smith, Ashley Tulley, Greg Veivers


LEAGUE’S MOST SPECIAL ROO-UNION BY NEIL CADIGAN

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he recent scene at Burleigh Bears Leagues Club on the Gold Coast portrayed surely what must be one of the most enduring close bonds rugby league has produced, even though onlookers would have had no idea of its significance. The grey-haired ‘senior-citz’ who shared yarns and laughs over lunch were members of the 1959-60 Kangaroos who toured England and France. They were one of our youngest and most inexperienced tourists, the first to travel to Britain by plane, and who were just one controversial refereeing decision away from potential greatness in our Test football history. The ‘59-60 Kangaroos have not only been having annual reunions since their 25th anniversary of their tour in 1984 but so too have their wives and widows. So while Barry Muir, Noel Kelly, John Raper, Gary Parcell, Tony Brown, Peter Burke, John Riley, Don Parish, Bill Delamere and Harry Wells mixed with fellow internationals Bob Dimond, Bob Honan, Dennis Ward, Ron Turner and Gold Coast Men of League committee members, 14 wives and widows of the ’59-60 players giggled and reminisced at nearby Northcliffe Surf Club. This is surely one of the special stories of the game, the only Kangaroo tour team that has made such an effort to continue their bond as we approach the halfcentury since they tramped on the muddied grounds of England and France, a controversial 11-10 second Test loss at Headingley costing them the title of the first Australian team to win the Ashes on foreign soil since 1911-12. That mantle went to the 1963-64 tourists who were honoured by a Men of League panel as the greatest Kangaroos of all time. When leading 10-6 well into the second half a pass from Reg Gasnier to Brian Carlson in the lead up to Muir touching down under the posts was ruled forward. Great Britain scored from a scrum late in the game to win 1110, then an 18-12 victory (after a Carlson penalty goal attempt hit the upright) in Wigan gave them the series 2-1. The players still rue the second Test decision with them insisting in unison the pass was fine. Former St George centre John Riley was the catalyst of the annual reunions. “I thought it was crazy that we got together on an ad hoc basis only and every year since we have got together,” Riley said. “The lies get bigger and our legend status gets greater each year.

Top: Array of internationals – John Riley, John Raper, Bob Honan and Peter Burke; Bottom left: Harry Wells chats with Bob Honan; Bottom Right: Barry Muir, John Riley and Tony Brown recall old times.

“It was a good time to play football; not much money but a lot of fun, a lot of memories and a lot of great friends to this day still. Most of us were kids, 20 to 21 years old and never been on a plane let alone picked to go on a Kangaroo tour. It was just a wonderful tour.” The Aussies, coached by Clive Churchill and with Jack Argent and Ern Keefer as managers, were away for five months from early September to the end of January, playing 35 matches. It took them 53 hours on the plane, after several stop-overs, to reach London. It was the first tour for 20-year-olds Raper and Gasnier who scored three tries in the first Test and many players were in their early 20s with winger Ken Irvine just 19. “The most common topics of conversation these days is our injuries,” laughed Muir. “You start with ‘how’s your knees going’ – and eventually we talk footy and the tries become better and our talent even greater.” Of the 26 Kangaroos of that period, 14 are still alive – the 10 who gathered at Burleigh plus Keith Barnes, Eddie Lumsden, Bob Bugden and Jim Paterson. Dud Beattie, Ron Boden, Brian Carlson, Darrell Chapman, Brian Clay, Reg Gasnier, Ken Irvine, Brian Hambly, Rex Mossop, Elton Rasmussen, Ian Walsh and Billy Wilson have passed away.

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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LEWIS READY FOR LAST HURRAH... AND BEYOND Luke Lewis, at 33, became the oldest Clive Churchill Medal winner on grand final day in October. Contracted for one more season, he looks at his career and what lies ahead. BY BARRY ROSS

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uke Lewis, Clive Churchill Medal winner in Cronulla’s historic 50-season drought breaking premiership victory in October, wants to put all his experience, inspirational leadership and undoubted class into the Sharks’ title defence in 2017. Yet, 16 seasons on from making his NRL debut as an 18-year-old for Penrith in 2001, he also knows the end of his playing days may not be too far away. He is a man with several options when retirement from football comes. He is one of the few current high profile NRL players who once had a ‘real’ trade, beginning an electrical apprenticeship after leaving school before aborting to help a mate with roof guttering. It lasted just months before joining the Panthers’ full-time ranks. He enjoys clay target shooting, so perhaps Olympic ambitions may follow? He has owned Harley Davison 6

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

motor bikes over the years and often rides his motor scooter to training. And he is a passionate campaigner against violence against women via White Ribbon. However, after admitting he began thinking more deeply during this year’s premiership season about a career after playing, Lewis’ first option would be to stay in rugby league as a coach. “I want to stay involved with rugby league,” he said a month after winning the Churchill Medal in Cronulla Sharks’ grand final victory over Melbourne. “I would love to coach, although I do not want to work with anyone who I played with or against.” The 33-year-old back-rower, who won a premiership with his hometown Penrith as a 20-year-old winger in his second full season of first grade action in 2003, will begin his 17th season of NRL football in 2017.


During this time he has played 16 Tests, 17 State of Origin games for NSW, five matches for City Origin, enjoyed one appearance for the NRL All Stars, 284 first grade games (208 for Penrith and 76 with the Sharks), scoring 112 first grade tries. One of the most versatile players in our game, Lewis has played first grade in every position except hooker. He has played Test or Origin football at centre, wing second row or lock. With Penrith, he played fullback for the last 30 minutes of a game in 2003 when Rhys Wesser was injured, halfback against the Cowboys in 2008 and five-eighth in the opening game of 2009 against Cronulla at Shark Park. He has also been switched from five-eighth to front row to help any situation since becoming a Shark in 2013. “When [Panthers coach] Matt Elliott moved me into the forwards [in 2008], it changed my career in a very positive way,” Lewis, who came into the grade ranks as a centre, recalled. “I was stale playing at centre and I was not playing good football. But when I began in the forwards, it gave me new enthusiasm and I began to play well again. The next season, Lewis made his Test debut, coming off the bench at Wigan in Australia’s 26-16 win over England in the Four Nations. In the final, two weeks later at Leeds, coach Tim Sheens gave him his first run-on start in Test football, as a second-rower in the 46-16 victory against England. Of his 14 Tests, in which he was victorious 12 times (losing twice to New Zealand), he recalls one in particular for the wrong reasons – against Fiji during the 2013 World Cup at Langtree Park, St Helens. With about 12 minutes to play, after chasing a kick, he crashed into an immovable advertising sign behind the short in-goal area, resulting in a dislocated shoulder which required a reconstruction. “It really is the ultimate to play for Australia,” said the Sharks forward. “I won’t forget any of my Tests, but the one at AAMI Park Melbourne in October 2010, when we beat England 34-14, is special, because I was lucky enough to score two tries.” Lewis’s Origin career with the Blues began at ANZ Stadium in Sydney as a winger in 2004. He played all three games that year as NSW went on to win the series two-one. Despite this success, the selectors ignored him until 2009, when he came back to the team as a forward. His 17th and last Origin game was at Brisbane in 2014. Lewis would love to win a third grand final, although he fully appreciates no team has won back-to-back

premierships since Brisbane Broncos in 1997 (Super League) and ‘98. “Every player at all levels wants to win the competition. But a grand final win is not easy and comes after a lot of hard work, effort and determination,” he says. There was some criticism when Lewis was awarded the Churchill Medal in October (becoming the oldest winner in its 31-season history) despite making 149 metres from his 16 runs, 28 tackles and 15 hit-ups. However, during his long career he has taken pride in doing all the little things well, such as being in the right position to make an important tackle, encouraging teammates and covering for injured or tackled players. He did all these things in the grand final and was a worthy winner of the medal. Few people realise that Lewis first came across his current Sharks coach Shane Flanagan in October 2002, when he was a member of the Junior Kangaroos side coached by Flanagan – and which included Jonathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Greg Bird and Anthony Watmough – a major factor in him becoming a Shark. The next year Lewis was selected in the 2003 Kangaroo touring team to England and France. He married his long-term sweetheart Sonia in January 2011 and 18 months later, in July 2012, he had a major health scare. After a match against the Wests Tigers, Lewis had a CT scan because of a neck problem and a 4cm lump was discovered on his thyroid which required removal. Since then he has had no problems. “At the time, it causes you to stop and think, but thankfully, I have had no more worries,” he said. Lewis is a White Ribbon ambassador and he is happy to raise awareness about violence against women. “This is very important to me as I experienced it first hand as a boy,” he said. Luke and Sonia work together in devoting much time to Zambi Wildlife Retreat. At 11 years of age, Luke became a fan of dirt bike riding and this led to him buying some Harley motor cycles. He has also enjoyed clay target shooting for the past seven years, mainly at the Menai Marconi Club at Lucas Heights. But without doubt the main focus of Luke and Sonia’s life is their daughter Hazel, who was born in April. “She is a princess and will look after me in my old age, when some of my football injuries catch up with me,” he laughed.

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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However, it contributed to Amanda suffering back problems from lifting Jamieson in and out of their car. So, Men of League, through the western region (NSW) committee headed by Martin Cook, came to the rescue to help their plight. And Jamieson was quite emotional, and greatly appreciative, when the Foundation’s CEO Peter Collins and welfare manager Ben Ross were on hand to hand over a new customised Toyota Tarago fitted with a hydraulic wheelchair lift to ease dramatically Amanda’s physical demands and enhance Jamieson’s quality of living.

Amanda and Jamieson Leeson, with Men of League’s Ben Ross, pick up their new ‘wheels’ at Chatswood Toyota.

TOUCH OF LUXURY FOR JAMIESON BY NEIL CADIGAN

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unedoo, in western NSW, is a great rugby league town that has thrown up many notable league products like Test centre and former Dragons premiership player and CEO Brian Johnston. Footy is important to their lifestyle and town morale. And amidst the strong league fraternity, the Leeson family is a symbol of dedication and hope in hard times in the bush. We have featured the story of 13-year-old Jamieson Leeson in these pages before, but this is a heartwarming new chapter – the day Jamieson and her devoted mother Amanda ventured to Sydney to take the keys of their new purpose-fitted van – made possible by Men of League and Chatswood Toyota. Jamieson was born with spinal muscular atrophy — a childhood version of motor neurone disease. She is wheelchair bound with limited use of her arms and hands, and requires Amanda to do many of the basic daily routine tasks like dressing, cutting up food and getting in and out of the family car. Yet it hasn’t stopped mother and sister being dedicated supporters of Codi Leeson’s football activities, and contributors to the Dunedoo junior activities over the years and Dubbo CYMS, the club 19-year-old Codi now plays for. Often they have long trips of up to five hours one way to take Codi and his teammates to matches but they never miss one moment.

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Jamieson is a devout Manly Sea Eagles fan whose favourite player has long been Brenton Lawrence and she can now maybe get to Sydney to see the maroon and whites go around a little more often too. “This will enable the family to continue being a part of the rugby league community,” said Peter Collins. “This is what the Foundation was set up to do, to work with our volunteer committees where we can help the men, women and children associated with the rugby league community who find themselves in financial difficulties and who need our help because they have no where else to go. “In this instance, we were able to get a recommendation from our volunteer committee in the western region that covers Dunedoo — headed up by Martin Cook. Through their fundraising activities locally, and with our assistance through donations and working with leagues club grants, we are delighted to provide this vehicle and the wheelchair lift for the family.” Jamieson said: “My family is mad about rugby league. It’s quite hard with the car that we have. The new van will help me a lot and it will be good for mum’s back too.” Added Amanda: “You have no idea what this means to us. This is something I couldn’t afford as a single parent. This gives Jamieson her independence, to be able to drive in and out on the van without having to rely on me. “Codi plays for a Dubbo team so it was two hours to training twice a week and some games were up to five hours one-way. Jamieson comes along to every game, without fail. “She loves rugby league and is a big Manly supporter. She watches every game on TV every weekend.” And now she can also travel, and transfer, in comfort and style.


HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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Ron Atkins (second from left) with Broncos past and present Ben Ikin, Michael Hancock, Allan Langer and Andrew McCullough.

BRISBANE’S GRAND PATRIARCH Ron Atkins was not just a pioneering indigenous first grader in Brisbane’s competitive competition but became a founding father for Wests Old Boys and Brisbane’s Men of League committee. BY STEVE RICKETTS

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s a boy, Ron Atkins idolised indigenous and South Sea Islander rugby league stars playing for Tweed district clubs, Seagulls, Cudgen and All Blacks. His heroes were the likes of Charlie and Cecil ‘Bomber’ Dodds, Stokel Currie, Walter Mussing and Allan Lena. Stokel was the grandfather of future Test centre Tony Currie while Lena’s son Graham would go on to play for Queensland. Mussing played for St George in Sydney from 1946 to ‘48 and was the club’s leading try-scorer in his first season. Atkins, the son of an indigenous mother and a white father, would go on to forge his own commendable playing career, but is best known as a stalwart of the Brisbane Wests Old Boys and Men of League. Now 81, Atkins was there at the start of Men of League in Queensland and became president of the Brisbane committee, standing down only last year. 10

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

“Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think Men of League would grow like it has,” Atkins says. “To have so many committees in Queensland, and to see committees established in Melbourne, Perth and Darwin – it’s just amazing. “A lot of that is down to the work of the late [Queensland manager] Steve Calder. He was a wonderful man, and we never had a cross word. In recent years, the structure of the organisation has improved, and [current state manager] Frank Barrett is doing a great job. The appointment of a full-time welfare officer [in Queensland, Mark Bunting] is also a step in the right direction.” Atkins has made countless welfare visits over the years, many to old mates like former internationals Brian Davies, Pat McMahon, Kel O’Shea and Harold ‘Mick’ Crocker, all now deceased. In his playing days with Wests in the Brisbane


Rugby League, Atkins was a winger in a star-studded backline, which included internationals Barry Muir, Alex Watson and Ken McCrone and state players Joe Jackson and Geoff Little. His family moved to Brisbane from the Tweed in 1949 when Ron’s father William was posted there with the Army. William served in the Middle East in WWII, and spent four years as a POW in Italy and Germany. Atkins, who began playing league with Wests Ithaca’s under-15s, represented Paddington Police Youth Club against a Combined New South Wales PYC side in 1955 in a curtain-raiser to a senior interstate match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, kicking two sideline conversions as well as the match winning penalty goal, again from out wide.

Ron (far right) with Vance Rennie, Cliff Coyle and Ian Gatenby.

“After the game [prominent NSWRL official, later to become ARL chairman] Bill Buckley gave me his Kangaroo tour tie pin,” Atkins said. “I put it on my blazer and I thought was king of the world.

In the early days of Men of League’s Brisbane committee functions were held at the old Bookmakers Club at Spring Hill before Atkins negotiated a deal with the Broncos, who still host Kick-off Club lunches.

“That night I went to Luna Park with the team and some of the players from the senior Queensland side. Cyril Connell, Alex Watson and Tom Tyquin got me on the big dipper. They got me in a headlock and wouldn’t let me off. It went round and round. By the time I got off I couldn’t stand up. I spewed, but worst of all, the Kangaroo tie pin had gone.”

Atkins has helped attract a long list of noteworthy guest speakers, among them Wayne Bennett, Michael O’Connor, Kerry Boustead, Dennis Manteit, Tommy Bishop and 1959 Queensland representative Professor Joe Baker, one of the world’s top marine scientists.

Atkins was instrumental in the formation of Wests Old Boys, and when he heard Wests’ juniors were looking to build a clubhouse at Gilbert Park, Red Hill (where Ron played his first game), the two organisations joined forces. The building was opened by Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones in 1967 and today houses the Broncos Leagues Club as well as the football club’s administration offices. Gilbert Park has been the Broncos’ training base since 1988. The 1970s was the golden era for Wests Old Boys with the club hosting top line acts such as Julie Anthony and Tony Barber, with Atkins often on duty as lighting and floor manager, dressed resplendently in a red and black formal outfit. He also called the bingo, which drew crowds of 500, three times a week. When the Broncos were granted entry into the NSWRL in 1987, they were looking for a new home. Valleys’ premises at Albion (now the home of Queensland Cricket) were well in the frame, before Atkins negotiated a deal with director Gary Balkin and media man Kev Keliher. Wests Old Boys’ membership was transferred to the Broncos, and Atkins was made a director of the new leagues club.

When Ron made his A grade debut for Wests in the late 1950s, there were very few indigenous footballers in the BRL and he was called ‘Corroboree’ by some rivals. “I saw it as a term of endearment,” Atkins said. “It got shortened to a few things and I eventually became know as Cobra.” Atkins started his working life aged 16, in the Queensland railways, doing shift work, which made it hard for him to train with Wests. Two years later he started at the Housing Commission, where he worked for 45 years in office and administrative capacities. “On my first day I went to work in a white shirt and tie, and thought to myself, ‘this is not too bad for a little black fella from South Tweed Heads, who started out at house with dirt floors and no electricity’,’’ he said. These days Ron lives at Arana Hills in Brisbane’s west. He has four daughters, one living in the UK, and 13 grand-children. And then there is the Men of League family, of which he is the Brisbane patriarch, with the annual Ron Atkins’ Golf Day one of the highlights of the social and fund raising calendar.

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CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT GIVING

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en of League Foundation tries to share the Christmas spirit of helping those in need all year round.

However, it is this time of year as we approach the festive season and so many turn to thoughts of family and giving, that it puts the activities of our wonderful organisation into fresh perspective. In the coming weeks, due to the generosity of Chrisco who have been donating hampers since 2012, many families will receive a lovely Christmas surprise. The Foundation has helped to brighten up the Christmases of hundreds of families through our rugby league network. In the first year 60 were distributed and that has risen to more than 100 annually to people recommended by local committees. It is just one of the ways Men of League likes to give to the community. It was rewarding to recently help one of our own who has been at the forefront of the Men of League spirit. Ron Atkins, instrumental in progressing the Foundation in Queensland in its formative years and Brisbane committee president for many years, recently needed his own assistance after having to enter hospital for a major procedure. Men of League was only too happy to repay Ron’s devotion by assisting with transport costs for his family to visit him in hospital. We worked closely with his family to see where we could help with their needs and ensured he had visitors from the league fraternity and local committee. This is typical of what your Foundation does on a weekly basis, in many parts of the country. It was evident from our cover story about the Leeson family, that their Christmas will be so much more comfortable with them able to get around with their brand new vehicle.

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Distributing Chrisco Christmas hampers is one of Men of League’s joys of Christmas. Here June Cahill received one from Ben Ross and John McAllister.

However, for the Foundation to continue helping those who need help, we require strong membership, sponsorship and donations. You can donate directly as we get closer to Christmas, by going to our website and helping build our Christmas appeal. Or you can encourage others to join, ensuring them that their membership fee will go to a good cause. If you know of someone you feel Men of League may be able to assist, you can also go to our website and click on the welfare button at the top of the page to find out more. We wish all our members a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for your support and may you share our spirit by helping those in your community, whether it be rugby league, family, friends or acquaintances.

www.menofleague.com/donate-now

Our offices will be closed from Thursday 22 December 2016, reopening on Monday 9 January 2017.

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016


SPONSORS Men of League would like to thank our sponsors for their continued assistance in enabling us to support the men, women and children of the rugby league community.

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MEN OF LEAGUE EVENTS CALENDAR DECEMBER 7

Brisbane - Kick Off Club

Broncos Leagues Club

8

Gold Coast - Bowls Day

Gold Coast Bowls & Community Club

8

Sunshine Coast - Christmas Luncheon

Mooloolaba Surf Club

9

North Coast - Sportsman Breakfast

Coffs Hotel

10

Bundaberg - Christmas Race Day

Thabeban Park

11

Fraser Coast - Golf Day

Maryborough Golf Club

11

Tweed District - Christmas Party

Coolangatta Sands Hotel

Far South Coast - Golf Day

Eden Golf Club

4

Newcastle Hunter - Trots Night

Newcastle Paceway

9

Melbourne - Golf Day

Keysborough Golf Club

11

Fraser Coast - Sportsman's Dinner

Hervey Bay Beach House Hotel

24

Gold Coast - Men of League Internationals Dinner

Burleigh Leagues Club

25

Central Highlands - Annual Bowls Day

Emerald

Southern Monaro - Bowls Day

Bombala RSL

JANUARY 8

FEBRUARY

MARCH 11

Events are subject to change.

SWITCH TO DIGITAL MAGAZINE Did you know your quarterly Men of League Magazine can be delivered straight to your inbox? Switch to digital today and you will help us to: Get your news quicker Save on printing and postage Reduce impact on environment

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

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Now officially an Australian sporting legend, Wally Lewis celebrates the moment with his family. Photo courtesy of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

LEAGUE GREATS RECOGNISED Two of rugby league’s greatest – one an Immortal, the other a Centenary Year Top 100 player – have been recognised by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. BY NEIL CADIGAN

W

ally Lewis has been given ‘legend’ status, only the third league player to be elevated to such level behind fellow ‘Immortals’ Reg Gasnier and John Raper, while slick centre of the 1950s-60s and devoted Men of League member, Harry Wells, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. For Lewis, while the honour itself was special, it was marked as an even more special moment in his life by having his family – and two surgeons who changed his life – in Melbourne on the awards night to see him enjoy the induction. Wife Jackie, son and well-known actor Lincoln, his other son Mitchell and daughter Jamie-Lee who has been a member of the Australia water polo squad despite her deafness, were in the audience and happily posed with him on stage. Among his personally invited guests were doctors Sam Berkovic and Gavin Fabinyi who conducted surgery in 2007 in Melbourne that changed Lewis’ life and put an end to his constant epileptic seizures. Lewis also referred too to his father Jim, a handy Brisbane first grader and coach, and bringing a tear to his eye when he first captained Australia, against France 16

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

in 1981, and mother June who was an all-round sports enthusiast who represented Queensland at netball. In a book released in 2009 Lewis opened up about his struggle with epilepsy, the two decades of denial in confronting it, and how admitting he needed help and undergoing the operation gave him the ability to stand on stage, and in front of the TV cameras as Channel 9 Brisbane’s sports reporter, with no fear of a breakdown. Yet it was his achievements well before then - as Queensland and Australian captain, inaugural Broncos skipper and perhaps the greatest game-controlling player we have seen - that was celebrated amidst some of Australian sport’s biggest names at the annual Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s gala dinner. Wells, as a spritely 84 who has long lived at Port Macquarie where his playing career finished, is the patron of the Mid North Coast committee and regularly attends activities. The little known fact is that Harry Wells is actually Harry Wills. Harry, known by the nickname ‘Dealer’ like his father


“I had a talent scout take me to South Sydney at 18 – in 1951 - he knew my father as ‘Dealer’ Wells - so he introduced me to the club with that name, but I put my name down as Harry Wills for the trials,” Harry recalled. “They sent me off to the grandstand to wait until my name was called and after about two or three games I was asked when I was playing. My recruiter went and asked “when does young Harry Wells play?” Harry had given his correct name but the scout corrected it to the surname he knew Harry’s father as. By the end of the season, after being called into first grade as a teenager for six games – including the grand final – ‘Wells’ was a premiership player. He returned to Wollongong the next year and rose to become a Test player the joined the Western Suburbs in 1956. Harry ‘Wills’ accepts Harry Wells’ announcement in Australia’s Sports Hall of Fame by Stephanie Branz. Photos courtesy of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

and grand-father who were proficient boxers, was born and remained a Wills until a spelling error was made when he left Wollongong to trial with South Sydney in 1951. His name was wrongly listed as Wells, and later when he was graded with the Rabbitohs, the surname was continued. The same thing had happened to his grand-father who had won a boxing title in Melbourne and the next day’s press wrongly referred to him as ‘Dealer’ Wells. His son then became known as the second ‘Dealer Wells’ the boxer, so by the time Harry had suffered the same fate in rugby league and didn’t make a point of correcting it, the anomaly became ‘fact’.

Most of his career was played with Wests who were regularly bridesmaids to the champion St George sides. He benefitted by the Dragons’ all-star presence though becoming a regular Australian Test centre of Gasnier, the pair forging a brilliant understanding. Harry’s passport, marriage certificate and the deeds to his house are all in the name of Wills, but through rugby league he will always be a Wells. Lewis became the 38th Australian sports person to be given legend status while Wells was one of eight inductees of 2016 – with Emma Carney (triathlon), Kristy Ellis (surf lifesaving), Sharelle McMahon (netball), Libby Trickett (swimming), Bob Ellicott QC (sport administration) and Jack Newton (golf), bringing the membership to 541.

Robert Oatley Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Trophy Winner @ Royal Sydney Wine Show 2016, Best Sauvignon Blanc in Show. 5 STAR WINERY JAMES HALLIDAY - AUSTRALIAN WINE COMPANION 2017

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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‘GB’ EYES LIFE AFTER THE STORM Greg Brentnall could have chosen Australian Football but instead he has given a lifetime to rugby league as a player and in administration. He has left Melbourne Storm after 12 years as a respected contributor. BY ROY MASTERS

S

ometimes, rugby league doesn’t know what it’s lost has until it’s too late.

Greg Brentnall, the Rothmans Medal winning Canterbury premiership fullback who toured with the 1982 Kangaroos, has resigned his post with the Storm, after spending 33 years working in junior development in the Riverina and Victoria. It would be comforting to say Greg’s legacy is that there are more youngsters playing rugby league in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne than there are playing Aussie Rules in the western suburbs of Sydney. But the man who scored the first try in State of Origin football (in 1980) has always been a realist. “I’ve got no idea how long we can keep holding on against AFL,” he said, particularly with it pouring $20 million a year into the Greater Western Sydney Giants, while the ARL Commission allocates the same funding to Victoria as it does to the other “affiliated” states of Western Australia and South Australia. When he retired from the Bulldogs at the end of the 1983 season and returned to his home town of Wagga Wagga, Brentnall became rugby league’s sole development officer at the Riverina Academy of Sport. The city had a thriving leagues club, a showpiece Eric Weissel Oval and five fields for junior league at Allan Staunton Oval. “I worked one out for 12 years, driving 50,000km each year from Hay to Albury to Young to Harden and the edge of Canberra,” he said. “And in my last year, I finally got an office in Wagga Leagues Club.” Today, rugby league is not on the program at the Riverina Academy; the Wagga Leagues Club is a derelict block: the Staunton ovals have been unused for ten years and rugby league is an outer suburban

18

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016


sport in the city. The Giants have an academy with exclusive access to AFL talent in the Riverina. The AFL has 30 development officers working in southern NSW, compared to rugby league’s ten. Brentnall’s disappointment is compounded by the irony he could have been a champion Aussie Rules player. He played one game for the Swans reserves but chose rugby league. “Running the footy brought me to the game,” he said simply. And he did, both as a centre and fullback for the Bulldogs, although it’s that pinpoint kick for winger Steve Gearin to score the winning try in the 1980 grand final that is most remembered. A Storm life member, he joined the club in its inaugural season and was co-opted into the position of team manager when the popular Michael Moore tragically died in Auckland after the first game of the 2000 season. His decision to leave the Storm, where he worked with on pathways with the NYC team and in development, was inevitable. “I have never been a supporter of an under-20 national competition and I’ve always believed allgame development under the age of 20 should be the responsibility of headquarters and not the clubs,” he said. “So with the NYC competition ending and the commission taking charge of development, my job became redundant.” However, a Brentnall will remain at the Storm, with son Marc graduating from under-20 coach to be in charge of the Storm’s development squad. Greg’s daughter Alexandra remains a keen Storm supporter, having been the club’s first ball girl. “She carried out the kicking tee for Matty Geyer in the 1999 grand final,” he said of last minute penalty try, a not inconsequential kick considering the Storm’s regular kicker Craig Smith was unconscious. “She told Matty how to kick it.” The Storm’s early success, together with regular grand final appearances since, disguise the difficulties Brentnall has faced working below the NRL level. When the club’s association with Brisbane Norths finished, the Storm’s surplus NRL players flew to Sydney to play with Cronulla in the NSW Cup. The jersey did have a small Storm logo on the sleeve but when the Sharks won the NSW Cup in 2013, there were five Storm players singing “Up, Up Cronulla” in the triumphant dressing room. When the Storm finally cut its association with

Cronulla and the development squad moved back to Queensland, the NSWRL refused to allow the Victorian under-16 and under-18 teams to play in the NSW competition, despite the fact the lads had played the last four years in the state’s dark blue jumper, not a Storm one. Brentnall says: “The fact the Storm’s feeder team is not in the NSW Cup shouldn’t have anything to do with where junior representative teams from Victoria play.” He is particularly proud of Victoria entering an under-18 SG Ball team in the 2009 NSW Competition. “It was a $200,000 exercise because we had to pay all costs but the team reached the grand final,” he said. The victors were Brentnall’s old club Canterbury, with current Storm player Dale Finucane in the Bulldogs team while future Storm first graders Jordan McLean, Justin O’Neill, Ben Hampton and Kenny Bromwich played for the Victorian team. “All the rest were locals, all kids who had come out of the Victorian system,” he said. Victoria’s under-16s and under-18s have been accepted into the Queensland competition, prompting Brentnall, who represented the Blues in the first State of Origin game, to say: “It almost tempted me to turn to Queensland.” Still very fit, Brentnall will spend another year in Melbourne, before heading back to Wagga with delightful wife Wendy. For a man with superb timing on the field, he has had an unfair share of bad timing off it. It was always his intention to play only three years in Sydney and return to open a gym. But Canterbury ‘dog-father’ Peter Moore kept saying, “Matey, you can’t leave us. Play another year and I’ll get you a job in the bush.” So when he finally returned to Wagga after eight years, he bought a gym. “I did all my footy money in six months,” he said of the savage downturn in the industry, following a period of bad publicity Australia-wide. “I made sure I refunded everyone’s membership.” But he did have the job ‘Bullfrog’ had always promised and now it’s time for another. Forty years after turning his back on AFL, rugby league cannot turn its back on this loyal servant.

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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OUR CLUBGRANT SUPPORTERS The Advantage Line program is a specific program tailored for the men, women and children of the rugby league community, who need assistance, coaching and advice in overcoming, progressing and rebuilding their lives from a challenge, obstacle or breakdown they have encountered. We are grateful to the following clubs for their generous support during 2016.

20

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016


A REAL LEAGUE HERO BY ROSS WEBB

the year undefeated. He was good enough to be called up to the Panthers’ grade ranks as a player too. Mitch and Jean moved to the south coast in 1990 where he was talked into coaching Nowra Warriors reserve grade side (after being offered the first grade job at Berry) and took over A-grade the following year. In 1993 his Nowra side was in last position at the season’s halfway point but rallied to scrape into the fourth and last semi-final spot. Nowra belted Gerringong 56-6 in the minor semi, before knocking out the minor premiers Batemans Bay in a low-scoring final for the Warriors to find themselves, against all the odds, in the grand final against the highly fancied Bomaderry. Tony Miller (right) with wife Jean, son Steven and grand-daughter Molly.

T

ony ‘Mitch’ Miller had a rugby league journey that was to take him to Sydney’s west, down to the NSW South Coast and to a finish at Moss Vale. Amongst all that, he married the love of his life Jean and they had two sons Mark and Steven, plus Tony spent 12 months in the Vietnam conflict in the late 60s. The 70-year-old ‘Mitch’ played junior footy for St Marys after moving there at age 16, rising from the juniors to captain-coaching the club to A-grade premierships in 1977–78 during 21 seasons as a player for the club. In between he was called up for national service in 1967-68, serving a year in Vietnam in an infantry platoon. He joined the board of directors in the 1970s and served as president from 1986-89. He saw a generational change in the club’s fortunes, from the premiership years of the 1960s, through the tough times of the 1970s and the opening of the leagues club in the 1980s. Along the way there were hundreds of weekends preparing the grounds, and numerous nights representing the club at the Penrith junior league judiciary, life membership, winning the life members’ trophy, and serving as treasurer for four years and junior league president for five. “Everyone was ‘multi-tasking’ in those days,” Tony says. “I sometimes turned up to board meetings wet from the sprinklers after stopping off at the ground to set them up.” One highlight during this period was in 1977 against Richmond when Mitch kicked the winning field goal on the siren which enabled them to go through

In typical Mitch fashion, reputations meant for nothing and his Nowra side went onto cause an upset and defeated Bomaderry 16-12. Following a move to the Southern Highlands, Mitch was courted by the Moss Vale Dragons and he took over the reins of the first grade side in 1999. The next year the Dragons formed a merger with Highland Pioneers (Bowral/Robertson) to become the Pioneer Dragons but he merger did not last and Mitch stayed with the Dragons, also serving on the committee, and they became a force again in the Group 6 competition, winning the 2010 premiership. Mitch was a bit of an institution on game day, wearing his ground manager singlet to ensure everything was under control despite the cool temperatures. Mitch continued this role up to 2015 when he was awarded his second life membership of a rugby league club. He began his biggest fight in late 2015 when he was diagnosed with cancer. As it always is with the big fella, he is doing everything he can do to fight the wretched disease. To most that would see him around town you would think he was okay. But he has been struggling as the disease takes hold but is getting great support from his fellow Vietnam vets, friends and most importantly Jean and Steven. Mitch has made a hugely positive impact on each footy club that he was involved with. I am honoured to have worked with him at the Dragons and to be considered a friend. I am glad to have known him over the past 17 years since he moved to Moss Vale. He is one of the great men of grass roots league.

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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Coach Mal Meninga embraces his trump card, Thurston. Courtesy of NRL Photos.

THE MIGHTY KANGAROO HOP The Kangaroos’ undefeated 2016 Test record has reinstated an unparalleled international dominance by an Australian representative team, and proved a stepping stone in coach Mal Meninga’s dream to bring gold back into the Aussies’ image. BY NEIL CADIGAN

F

or Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, a footy legend with a real sense of history, returning the Australian Test team to its long-held place as number one rugby league nation was a journey not a destination. Australia’s decisive Four Nations tournament victory in England restored the most dominant sequence of success by any Australian team on the major international scene – albeit under the new age of international competition that includes irregular tournament schedules that feature one-off Tests against the Kiwis, tri or four nation series and World Cups. Now, the man who brought Queensland from a predicted period of demise to its most dominant decade in history, wants Test football to stand beside our domestic juggernaut – State of Origin – right through next year’s World Cup and regain at least its prestige and public profile compared to Origin’s unparalleled parochialism and revenue-spinning power. 22

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

The international scene changed forever, dramatically, in the mid-1990s. Since the English season switched from winter to summer in 1996 as part of a new beast called Super League, the traditional Kangaroo tours that took place usually on queue every four years became obsolete because of the simultaneous seasons. And so too, it became feared, would the Australian dominance with the Kiwis eventually slipping under our guard and breaking a four-and-a-half decade tightly held stranglehold on the ‘world’s best’ tag with three successive victories against the Aussies – a 22-18 Four Nations final win in 2014 (in Wellington, NZ) after an earlier 30-12 win in Brisbane, and a 26-12 in-season Test win in Brisbane in 2015. It meant the Kiwis, momentarily in the scheme of Test tradition, became world’s number one after also taking the World Cup crown in 1988, the Australian game’s centenary.


The Aussies’ brilliant ‘spine’ of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston celebrate the Four Nations victory. Courtesy of NRL Photos.

Not only are the Kangaroos back on top, but an analysis of their extraordinary record shows those brief Kiwi spurts, the Aussies’ record is incomparable. The 34-8 demolition of New Zealand in the Four Nations final at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium last month took Australia’s record since the domination began in 1972 to a remarkable 169 Test victories from 203 Tests against all nations. The Australians, custodians of the most competitive club competition in the world, have long had the largest and most talented pool of players. Yet there lies the complication. Protective clubs often pressured players, many of whose out-of-club focus had become Origin which carries its $30,000 a game wage, into having offseason “injuries” treated with the pinnacle of this conflict coming in 2003 when 18 key tour candidates withdrew from the last-contested three-Test series against Great Britain. Clubs, and players via their association, challenged the ad hoc schedule which saw Australia tour England five times in eight seasons from 2009, and five times in six seasons from 2000-05, on top of the World Club Challenge series between Australia’s and Britain’s premiers being played in England all but once in the 21 clashes since it was established in 1987. The only staple international fixture became the ‘ANZAC’ Test between Australia and New Zealand which was born from the 1997 Super League invention which the News Limited rebel group unveiled as it looked for point

of difference innovations. The match is an annual fixture played in April/May every year since (other than once when it was played in July) – ridiculously scheduled before what should be the genuine Test team selection trials, Origin games. Many thought the NRL may have overreacted to the Kiwis’ mini-run of success with the upheaval and expansion of the Test coaching and support base but the manner in which the Aussies romped through the Four Nations in Britain has corrected one of the proudest Aussie records on the world scene. Meninga was captain of Australia’s last old-style tour in 1994 (in-season for the British game and off-season for Australia) that took in 18 matches (half the normal pre-WWI tours), including seven club games. He became the first player to tour four times to England (plus for the 1992 World Cup final), the only player to be captain on two Kangaroo tours. He wanted the sense of that history to be respected and appreciated by the current generation, just like he used Queensland’s subversive period from much-vanquished to much-celebrated in the 1980s as a motivator for Queensland’s rise to greatness from 2006. That’s why we heard tales of the 2016 Kangaroos cleaning dressing rooms, sharing basic duties like the teams of the past and being educated about the honour and responsibility of being a national team representative overseas. It was about putting the ultimate pride and respect of the privilege of wearing

HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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World’s number one again, the 2016 Kangaroos and expanded support staff. Courtesy of NRL Photos.

the green and gold jersey. From that, Mal hoped, would come results. “We’ve spoken about how we want to go about rebuilding the international game and put it back on top where it deserves to be,” said captain Cameron Smith after the victory in the final. “We’ve made some pretty good steps to do that this tournament. “That was a goal of ours – to be here in the final – but we also wanted to win it and show everyone back home what it means to us to play for the Kangaroos, in the name of helping everyone get behind us and the international game.”

The Brits, also, can’t be accused of being second rate. They have an abundance of established NRL players in the Burgess brothers, Gareth Widdop, Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson, James Graham and first-class Englishbased players. Yet in 2016 the Australians have won six Tests (four against NZ) with an aggregate scoreline of 180-50 after some had panned the 16-0 win over the Kiwis in Newcastle in May, Meninga’s debut as coach. It’s simply back to normal transmission – with perhaps the most competitive World Cup in decades on the menu for next year.

And while we bemuse the loss of ‘real’ Kangaroo tours every four years, and the special experience of taking on England’s best club sides around three Tests against the Poms that build expectation over two or three months on tour, and instead have Australia, England, New Zealand and what some may rate a ‘token’ fourth side (this time Scotland) in a Four Nations series (this was the fourth in seven years), the Aussies are back to a clear level above their opponents.

Australia’s Test/World Cup Record Since 1972 VS

W

L

D

Great Britain

41

11

1

England

11

2

1

And it means something to the team.

New Zealand

68

14

3

“Leading into the World Cup next year, we want to be in a position where we’re feared again,” Meninga stated earlier this year.

France

20

2

Papua New Guinea

11

Other

18

Total Tests 203

169

29

5

“The Kiwis have some great players playing in the NRL who are not scared anymore, not daunted by the fact they’re playing against the Australian Kangaroos. From a psyche point of view, they’re very confident going into a game. We’ve got to turn that around. That’s my job.” 24

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016


LEAGUE TRIVIA 1. Who is the only man to have coached both the teams who will play in next year’s World Club Challenge decider – Cronulla and Wigan?

5. What year was North Sydney’s last season in the NRL premiership, and did they make the finals? 6. Which club won the most Brisbane Rugby League premierships (first grade) in its ‘major competition’ era (up to 1987)? 7. Who is the most experienced current NRL referee?

2. Who were the top point-scorer and top try-scorer in the NRL in 2016?

8. Only six of the 12 NSW Cup teams participate under the name of their NRL parent clubs. List them.

3. Which player, in the 2016 decider, was playing his third grand final for a third different club?

9. Which NRL team now has the longest premiership drought (since last winning the title, or having never won one).

4. Which of the Walters brothers, Kerrod and Steve, won the most Dally M hooker of the year awards?

10. Which player began 2016 in the NRL competition and finished the season as a grand final winning player with Wigan in England?

ANSWERS: 1. Stuart Raper. 2. Jarrod Croker (296 points) and jointly Jordan Rapana and Suliasi Vunivalu with 23 tries. 3. James Maloney (Warriors 2011, Roosters 2014, Sharks 2016). 4. Steve Walters 3, Kerrod Walters 2. 5. In 1999, they missed the finals. 6. Fortitude Valley. 7. Ashley Klein – 150 in Super League, 200-plus in NRL. 8. Canterbury, Manly, Newcastle, NZ Warriors, Wests Tigers and Penrith. 9. Parramatta – 30 seasons (last premiership 1986); Raiders 22 seasons (1994), Warriors 22 (none), Newcastle 15 (2001), Canterbury 12 (2004), Brisbane 10 (2006), Gold Coast 10 (none). 10. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala (began with Raiders in round 1).

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LENDING A HELPING HAND AMY ADAMS

Amy Adams was the recipient of some fuel vouchers from the Men of League to help pay with the fuel bills she has incurred while travelling to Newcastle for treatment for her illness. Amy is battling with stage two melanoma and has had to make the 500km return trip to Newcastle more than 20 times. Men of League North West members Don Pascoe, Ken Thompson and Kevin Robinson caught up with Amy over coffee to present her with the vouchers. They were extremely impressed with Amy’s positive attitude regarding her ongoing battle with her illness as she awaits to hear of positive results.

President’s Cup teams in 196264. He played 20 reserve grade and 17 third grade games for South Sydney in 1964-1966, and also played lower grades with the Cronulla Sharks.

PETER AND MARY DUROSE

Greg Brentnall and Melbourne president Peter Foreman visited Peter and Mary Durose ,the two former Bulldogs servants, in Ballarat. Peter and Mary ran the Canterbury Bulldogs’ player lodge for many years and looked after a generation of young Canterbury players.

Despite retiring long ago, Bomber is probably now more involved in sport now than he was in his playing days. He splits his time between coaching the Dubbo Rams women’s Waratah League side, sitting on the Group 11 judiciary and being part of the Group 11 representative selection panel. Ben Ross took time out to visit Bomber at the Mater Hospital in Sydney as he had two of his toes removed while in hospital. The Men of League Foundation wish him well in his recovery.

Peter has been in a care facility for several years and has been supported by Men of League with a mobile wheelchair (two over a period of years) while Mary has been a little unwell and our team in Victoria, along with Ben Ross, are staying in touch with her in case she requires some further support. Ben Ross visiting Mark Forrester.

DON HAY

Ken Thompson (standing), Kevin Robinson (left) and Don Pascoe (right) presenting Amy Adams with fuel vouchers.

COLIN DOWNING

Men of League member Colin Downing was visited at St George Private Hospital in October by Alan Webb and Ken Vessey. Colin had his left knee replacement operation a few days earlier. He played his junior football in the South Sydney Juniors for the Chelsea United club and was also a member of the South Sydney 26

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Don Hay was visited at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, after travelling from Griffith for a triple bypass heart operation. He was looking forward to returning to the comfort of his home. Peter Foreman, Mary Durose, Greg Brentnall and Peter Durose.

MARK FORRESTER

‘Bomber’ Forrester admits he would do anything to get over an opponent and believes the game today is faster but not as tough as it was back in the 1970s and 80s when he was one of the hardest players in Group 11 while spending 18 years in the Dubbo Macquarie pack before joining Westside Rabbitohs.

Don had a lengthy playing career with Griffith Black and Whites and while his favoured position was second row he played in every position for the club. Welfare officer Alan Webb found during the visit that fellow former Griffith man Peter Keenan, an active member of the Sydney Metro committee, had also visited Don. If you know of our country mates who are in Sydney for treatment,


please contact Men of League and advise them so that we can call and see them.

KEVIN LANGDON

It was in June 2012 when Northern Sydney welfare officers Denis Bendall and Ken Vessey had the pleasure to meet Kevin Langdon, and they have stayed in touch. Recently, Norm Pounder and Ken paid another visit to his residence and, as before, were amazed by Kevin’s outlook, his attitude to get on with life and the commendable way in which he handles his disability. Kevin commenced his rugby league career with Guildford as a cheeky halfback, progressing through Parramatta’s SG Ball team before being graded with Parramatta in 1973 as an 18-year-old. He played every game in reserve grade under coach Billy Rayner, a World Cup hooker. In 1974 he was head hunted to join Canterbury under well respected coach Malcolm Clift and had a successful year, playing in two grand finals and was enjoying his career. At the end of the 1974 season, NSWRL introduced the 13-import rule and Langdon was forced to leave Canterbury and in 1975 he enjoyed playing first grade for Port Kembla, where many other ex-Sydney players were in the opposing teams. He then had the urge to travel and in 1976 went to England and played first grade with Widnes, joining a couple of English mates from their days at Canterbury, Mick Adams and Doug Laughton, before retiring and touring around. In 2008, Kevin fell from a verandah, suffering severe spinal injuries resulting in him becoming a C6/C7 quadriplegic. Kevin has undergone many operations and had lengthy stays in hospital and

today is cared for by dedicated professional carers plus his loving son Blake and daughter Lara, who was planning to be married. Kevin regularly attends our local Men of League functions on his electronic wheelchair.

GRAHAM MACBETH

Upon receiving word from Stephen Macbeth that his cousin Graham had been at the Royal North Shore Hospital for a long period, Northern Sydney welfare officers Gregory Grace and Ken Vessey wasted no time in paying Graham a visit. Graham, from the township Coolah in Central Western NSW, had been in the hospital for five months following his second kidney transplant. He had his first kidney transplant in 1975 and as a result, his rugby league playing days at school were cut short. He had lived in Coolah the best part of his life, had recently retired from working at the local council and he had a very supportive family comprising of wife Leonie (married since 1969), three sons, four daughters and five grandchildren. He was a keen supporter of St George in the period when the club won 11 straight premiership titles with such marvellous players as Norm Provan, Reg Gasnier, John Raper, John King and Graeme Langlands. He happily reminisced about visits to the Sydney Cricket Ground on a Saturday afternoon in the match of the day.

Gregory Grace, Graham Macbeth and Ken Vessey.

STEPHEN NORRIS

Norris was a familiar rugby league name in Bundaberg from the 1950s to the late 80s. Stephen’s father and two brothers all played league in Bundy. His father Stanley played for Wide Bay against the touring international teams in the sixties. Recently Stephen had a cancer scare which required a serious bowel and hernia operation. He was visited in The Friendly Society Hospital in Bundaberg by good mates and Men of League Bundaberg members Mark Hanson and Peter Stockwell. ‘Norrie’ played most of his junior league for a couple of clubs in the Bundaberg competition. As a 16-year-old he played for Brisbane Valleys under-18 team. He also had a stint with Tweed Heads Seagulls and Townies in Mt Isa. He returned home to Bundaberg where he played most of his A grade footy with Western Suburbs Panthers. We are happy to report that Norrie is doing well after the operation and is recovering at home with family. This was a BMD Queensland welfare visit.

RON AND ARTHUR NOWLAND

A Nowland Brothers’ Tribute Day was held at the Erina Rugby League Club with more than 200 people attending to show their appreciation for the contribution, commitment and influence ‘Pudge’ and ‘Bub’ had on rugby league on the Central Coast. Men of League Central Coast committee members attended and presented Pudge and Bub each with a Men of League polo shirt and cap. Unfortunately, both have not enjoyed great health. Pudge has Alzheimer’s disease and is in an aged care facility and Bub required chemotherapy and is suffering from the side effects of this treatment.

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Local committee members Les Pearce, Peter Louis, Lance Henry and Dennis Tomsett visited Pudge. He was all smiles as he met with his old mates Les, Peter and Brad. Pudge first played for Erina in 1952 and retired in 1968, after a few years playing with Woy Woy. He successfully tried out for St George in 1957, but work commitments and travel forced him to return to the Central Coast.

He played more than 250 senior games for Erina which is surely a club record.

having a knee replacement operation at Kareena Private Hospital in Caringbah.

He is also very proud of the years he spent playing with brother Pudge, another Erina legend.

JOHN RUSSELL

Bub demonstrates his determination to meet any health obstacles head on and looks forward to catching up with old mates to reminisce about the old times.

Men of League Tamworth president Kevin Robinson recently presented welfare recipient John Russell with a grant for food vouchers. It is hoped that these will help with ongoing health expenses.

He played in several grand finals for Erina and Woy Woy and coached a winning under-19 side at Woy Woy in 1964 that included John Monie (former Woy Woy, Parramatta and Wigan coach), Peter Louis and Brad Berry. His greatest triumph at Erina was captain-coach of the first grade side in 1966 that was beaten in extra-time in the grand final. When the Central Coast became part of Group 12 in 1967, he was the first captain of the Group team and went on to play for Southern Division. After retiring from playing due to injury he coached the under 16 and under 18 sides and first grade in 1974. Pudge became a selector and committee man for many years. Bub played with Erina from 1956-74 apart from one year at Woy Woy in 1965. He was made a life member of Erina RLFC in 1977. He came through from D grade to play nine years of first grade before coaching second and third grade sides from 1970 until 1974. He then took on selector and other committee roles for many years, never losing his enthusiasm and passion for the club and is a big part of Erina’s great history. 28

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Back: Lance Henry, Brad Berry, Les Pearce. Front: Kim Clarke, Pudge Nowland and Peter Louis.

Kevin Robinson (right) presenting food vouchers to John Russell.

KEITH RUGLESS

NICK YAKICH

Men of League welfare officers Alan Webb and John Peard visited 78-year-old Keith Rugless at his home at Engadine. Keith was a halfback and played his junior football with Renown United in the St George juniors alongside Reg Gasnier. They both played President’s Cup for St George before being graded. After leaving St George, Keith joined Northern Suburbs Wollongong in the Illawarra competition before returning to play with Cronulla in the second division prior to that club entering the top competition. Keith resides at Engadine with his wife and has five children and seven grandchildren. He had just arrived home after

Many Sea Eagles supporters would recall the name Nick Yakich and the lightning speed he showed during his Manly Warringah and Australia during the 1960s. Northern Sydney welfare officers Norm Pounder, Fred Jackson and Ken Vessey had the pleasure to meet Nick, a pleasant and modest man, at his Warriewood residence and recall those playing days. Nick was the son of a Croatian immigrant who stowed away on a ship to Perth in the 1920s and moved to Innisfail in the 1940s. Nick was born there but the family moved to Sydney where he attended Marist Brothers, Mosman, with his brother Fred (another winger who played first grade for Manly during 1963-1966) and a future rugby league star winger Ken Irvine.


After completing high school, Nick and his brother Fred attended Newcastle Teachers College and upon graduation he was posted to Harbord Primary School in Manly heartland and later taught special education groups at Pittwater High School. Nick trialled with Manly Warringah at the instigation of his cricket teammate and Manly junior Frank Stanton and he was graded as a winger in 1960. He went onto play 75 first grade games, scoring 52 tries, representing NSW in three games in 1965 before touring with the 1965 Australian team to New Zealand, where he was the team’s leading try-scorer with six tries but could not displace the Test wingers Ken Irvine and Michael Cleary.

In 1966 he badly injured his knee which required surgery and, while acting as captain-coach at Werris Creek, he suffered a shoulder injury which forced his retirement.

grandchildren and his great love, prior to suffering three strokes in recent years, was fishing and prawning off the rocks, beach and Narrabeen Lakes.

Yakich had an excellent reputation as a beach sprinter with the Warriewood and North Narrabeen surf clubs and won six Australian beach sprint championships.

He now settles for a few games of lawn bowls.

He was a sprinting protégé of the great Johnny Bliss, former Manly and Australian winger, who won 12 Australian beach sprint championships. Nick was the first beach sprinter to beat Johnny Bliss in a semi-final but Johnny had his measure in the final. He and loving wife Beverley have three sons, one daughter and six

Norm Pounder (left) and Ken Vessey visiting Nick Yakich.

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ORDINARY FOLK WITH BIG HEARTS Recently appointed Queensland welfare and education officer Mark Bunting hit the highways and runways to acquaint himself with Men of League volunteers far and wide. This is his account.

Mark Bunting, Cameron Stallard, Troy Jenkins and Michael Roach.

Peter Sullivan, Ken Millgate, Mark Bunting, Artie Spinks and Bruce Forrest.

fter four months in the job as the Queensland welfare and education officer, it was time to hit the road and visit all the wonderful committees throughout regional Queensland.

It was such a great experience to sit and yarn to everyone about their local town and how Men of League has had such a major influence in the welfare of people from the outback.

We are very fortunate to have 14 committees statewide made up of hard-working volunteers assisting people from the rugby league community with welfare and fundraising for the Foundation - and BMD supporting this role. It was a privilege to meet ordinary folk with big hearts wanting to give back to the game they all love and admire make up the committees.

Ken, the local welfare officer, even made up a sign for me, advising patrons I would be visiting and if they wanted to meet me to come along and say hello. The hospitality was wonderful and the boys certainly looked after me.

A

For my first trip, I headed west to the towns of Goondiwindi, St George and Roma. After living most of my life in Yeppoon, I had never been to these western towns before. I had a picture in my head of what they may look like – sleepy little communities with a pub on the corner and a local shop. Wow was I in for a shock.

Next morning after breakfast I hit the road again on my way to Roma. On the way I met up with Neale who is a local businessman and Men of League rep for the area. Neale and his brother Andrew (president of the Toowoomba committee) have been long supporters and tireless workers for Men of League.

They were vibrant towns with great facilities and townspeople. After making my through Warwick and Texas I came to the lovely town of Goondiwindi – home of the famous Queensland racehorse Gunsynd and rugby league folklore.

A quick cup of coffee and a chat with Neale and I was back on the road to visit Roma – home of Australian and Queensland legends Arthur Beetson, Darren Lockyer and many more. I met up with the president of our Roma committee Owen, ‘Bodgey’ to the locals. Owen was a major influence on Darren growing up and they are lifelong friends.

After walking around the town like a tourist, it was time to meet the local committee. We met at one of the local hotels where publican and committee member Peter greeted me and introduced me to the other members of the committee.

Owen has been unwell lately but he still finds the time and energy to help the people of Roma. We chatted for hours in the local coffee shop before I decided I would try to beat the impending storm that was brewing and head back home to Brisbane.

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016


Frank Barrett, Mark Hanson and Mark Bunting.

Vic Beardmore and Sheron Embrey.

After a week at home it was back on the road to do the Wide Bay part of my visit, armed with iPads that welfare and education manager Ben Ross had organised to supply to committees. I had previously visited welfare officers John and Greg from the Sunshine Coast and Gympie committees but this time I came bearing gifts. Once again some informative discussions greeted me on my way.

I was on the road the next day via Gympie, home for a couple for days, then off to my old stomping ground of Emerald, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville. I flew into Emerald on the Tuesday and walked out of the airport to be hit by the immense gush of hot air. I had forgotten how hot the Central Queensland area could be.

I then arrived in Hervey Bay. Having lived there as a teenager, it was great to drive around and see the immense changes that had occurred over the past 30 years. Even though we had talked on the phone many times, I had yet to meet the wonderful men and women of the Fraser Coast welfare team. Kev, Sheron, Ian and Gary greeted me with a range of questions and discussions points. I found that the face to face visiting is a great way to find out what is happening in local areas and any areas of concerns they may have. I stayed overnight in the Bay and then went to the local golf club for the Men of League golf day hosted by the Fraser Coast committee. Special guest was my old friend and former student I had taught, PJ Marsh, as well as former NRL player Mark Tookey. Kev and his committee did a marvellous job looking after everyone. Queensland state manager Frank Barrett travelled from Brisbane to be part of the day and host the presentation. An hour and a half up the road is the wonderful town of Bundaberg where Frank, Men of League director Darryl Van de Velde and I were guests of the committee, along with former Test player and Men of League supporter Chris Johns. I met with local welfare officer Mark for a chat and later we were invited on stage to talk about what Men of League does for people and how the money raised by such a night goes to support the men, women and children of the rugby league community. The video we showed during the night was very powerful with such a great message.

That night I was picked up by Mick and met with the Central Highlands committee at the local tavern. Mick and I had known each other for a while and the Central Highlands committee is made up of some very active members of the league fraternity. They are a fairly new committee with some great ideas and stories to tell. I took the bus from Emerald to Rocky where I met up with two great blokes who I have known for quite a while – Jamie (another ex-student I had taught) and Greg (I had taught his son and been on the local football club committee with him) – who are local welfare officers. Jamie visits an old mate of mine, John, on a regular basis and was filling me in on all the local gossip since I had left the area to relocate to Brisbane. Next day I flew to Mackay and was fortunate to be there on a meeting night so I got to meet many members of the local committee. To Paul, the president, and Alf, the secretary, thanks for your invitation and hospitality. Ken, the local welfare officer, and I had been in frequent communication as he was assisting a couple in the area. I was up early next morning for the flight to Townsville for the local committee’s AGM. I was blown away by the number of people in attendance. Special thanks to the lovely ladies who looked after me there and to Barry, Mark and Terry who hosted me. I feel so humbled and honoured to be part of the Men of League Foundation. We have so many great people who give up so much time to spend and assist those in need. I look forward to once again visiting the regional areas as well as visiting my committees close by.

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TOWNSVILLE COMMITTEE PROFILE BY AARON HENRY

T

he passion for rugby league in far north Queensland is very well known.

The excitement for rugby league in the Townsville community goes well beyond fond memories of the Cowboys’ maiden premiership victory in 2015. This can be seen in the Townsville Men of League committee having a roster of 17 committee members. Reflecting the rugby league community, the committee has members across a wide age and includes many active and hard working women. Townsville committee publicity and membership officer Barry Buchanan says the key to having such large, active group is all about having fun. “We’re a team here in Townsville. We see the Men of League Foundation mostly about welfare and friendship, so we makes sure that we have lots of fun whilst helping people,” Buchanan said. A great working relationship with the North Queensland Cowboys and the Townsville Blackhawks helps the committee have a lot of fun at their biggest drawcard event - the Kick Off Club. Special guests to the Kick Off Clubs have included Cowboys coaches Graham Murray, Neil Henry and Paul Green. In 2016 the committee had a sensational Kick Off Club as the curtain-raiser to a Blackhawks game with Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf as special guest speaker on game day.

Helen Sugars, Natalie Turner and Dena Arthy.

“It’s just the best way to have people become willing to join your team and help with what we do. Have great social events for people to meet each other, have a few drinks, talk about footy and how we can help those who need it,” Buchanan said. “There really is a strong sense of community and friendship within the rugby league community here in Townsville. So everyone gets in to help out.” When the committee was established in 2008, early welfare cases were as far afield as Mt Isa (900km), Atherton (350km), Innisfail (260km), and Collinsvale (280km). These days their welfare work is much closer to home with visits to local hospitals, care facilities and people’s homes. The Foundation’s magazine is regularly dropped off by committee members to the Cowboys Leagues Club, Mater Private Hospital and Townsville Hospital. Townsville Hospital is a regular port of call for welfare visits with many people having to travel

Queensland welfare officer Mark Bunting (far right) catches up with the Townsville committee on a recent visit.

to Townsville from Cairns and Mackay to get specialist treatment. This means lots of meeting new people, picking them up from their accommodation and accompanying them to hospital for treatment when they aren’t feeling well and are a long way from home. In these circumstances, often the only mutual connection to someone is rugby league. That can be a comforting bond to someone who needs assistance to help get them through a difficult day. “We get a lot of referrals from neighbouring committees for people who have had to come into Townsville. We often find that we have distant connections dating back years and even decades to rugby league carnivals, training camps and games,” Buchanan said. “You just can’t put a price on what it means to be helping and visiting people in their time of need. Our team here in Townsville loves doing it. That is the nature of the rugby league community here in far north Queensland.”

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Errol Stock (left) during his Bradford days (1964). Next to him are official Stew Hatfield, coach Ken Traill and fellow Aussie Garth Budge.

INVESTING IN GOOD STOCK Rockhampton league legend Errol Stock has travelled many miles, enjoying many successes on and off the field which enabled him to retire from the workforce at 40. And he has plenty of life left in him at 70. BY STEVE RICKETTS

R

ockhampton born and bred, Errol Stock’s rugby league journey took him to England as a player, and later as a referee. He overcame a broken neck, numerous knee injuries and two broken cheekbones to carve out 17 years of senior football, including 99 games in a row, proving himself as one of the best fullbacks in Queensland in the 1960s. And when it was all over he took up golf and tennis, retiring from the workforce when he was just 40 because of smart investments in real estate. Stock played one game for Queensland - against France in 1964 - helping the Maroons to a 28-22 win in a Lang Park thriller. Just a few weeks earlier he had played for Central Queensland in their 22-2 win over the tourists in Rockhampton. “In the ‘Rocky’ game one of the Frenchmen ran into my elbow when I was running the ball,” Stock said. “I can’t remember his name, but he played against Queensland, and when I made a break he chased me, and when I stepped back inside as the cover defence gathered me in, this bloke kicked me up the arse. That was his revenge.” 34

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Stock, who turns 75 on December 22, is a product of Rockhampton Norths where he played under captaincoach Cyril Connell, the former Australian halfback who would go on to become the Broncos’ legendary talent scout. In 1962 Stock played for Central Queensland against Great Britain, one of the best touring sides to reach these shores, with the Lions beating the locals 55-8. Two years later he was playing with and against many of these British stars after signing with Bradford Northern. “There was an international transfer ban in the early 1960s, but they relaxed it a bit as long as you returned to Australia in time for our season,” Stock said. “Cyril (Connell), Ted Verrenkamp (a former Leeds player) and Arthur Sparks (former Kangaroo tour team manager) helped line up a contract in England for me and Garth Budge, a teammate from Norths in Rocky,” Stock recalls. “We left on the SS Roma from Brett’s Wharf in Brisbane, for England via Italy. We were supposed to play for Keighley but when we got off the train in


Leeds, (BBC commentator) Eddie Waring was there to meet us and told us there were a number of other clubs keen to sign us. “I remember the Keighley president saying to his fellow directors: ‘Stock and Budge are prize bulls and we are pulling out of the auction’.” So Stock and Budge signed with Bradford, playing alongside the likes of British Test prop Jack Wilkinson, South African winger Mike Brown and Fijian rugby union great Joe Levula. “Just before I Ieft Queensland, I had been on patrol with the Emu Park Surf Club,” Stock said. “To go from that lovely beach to the mud and grime of Bradford’s Odsal Stadium … nothing prepares you for that. “After one game Joe Levula jumped in the (communal) bath, boots and all. It was a bitterly cold winter and at one stage we had to play five games in eight days to catch up on postponed fixtures. Garth and I had to be back in Rockhampton by the start of the club season there, so we missed out on playing for Other Nationalities against Wales, England and France. By the end of the ‘65 season I had played 99 games in a row.” Budge, a five-eighth, played two games for Queensland in 1965, before returning to England, where he remains after marrying the daughter of prominent English Rugby league official Harry Womersley. Stock had finished his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner in 1962, and moved to Toowoomba the following year to work in the Darling Downs Bacon Co-op, where the ‘pig stabber’ was future Test forward Dennis Manteit. Stock played for the Newtown club, with another star fullback Ray Laird opting to play in the centres to accommodate him. After the ‘65 season, Stock decided to give Brisbane club football a go and signed with Valleys, where he spent four seasons, before switching to Wests where he spent six. He played fullback throughout his career, with the notable exception of one game at centre at Wests when coach and former Test fullback Norm Pope made a comeback to help out in an injury crisis. While at Wests, Stock heard from his Rockhampton contacts that 17-year-old Rod Reddy was an outstanding forward prospect and the Panthers should move quickly to sign him. “I thought I had Rod signed but he by-passed Brisbane to meet with St George officials in Sydney, and the rest is history,” Stock said. On his retirement as a player, Stock had a go a refereeing and during a visit to England in 1979 was

Stock displays his Bradford Northern blazer.

given approval to officiate at a professional match between Whitehaven and Doncaster. When Stock first arrived in Brisbane he stayed at the Wickham Hotel in Fortitude Valley with publican Frank Moynihan having lured him to the ‘big smoke’. Rather than build a house, he invested in several blocks of flats around inner northern Brisbane. “When I turned 40, I decided I wanted to play more tennis and golf, so I quit my job (at Toledo Scales) and lived off my investments,” Stock said. “I also bought old homes, did them up and sold them for a tidy profit. “I’ve had six holes-in-one in golf, the last one back in the 1990s. I’ve been to Japan, Canada and the US for seniors’ tennis tournaments. I played touch football and squash as well.” He proudly announced he’s never smoked, drank or gambled as well. Stock’s success and longevity is a remarkable achievement considering Stock had his neck broken when he was spear tackled in a match against Redcliffe in his first season with Wests. “I broke the second and third vertebrae and had my neck in a brace for a while. But I only missed six weeks of football.” Errol does a lot of swimming these days, remaining active despite major back surgery in recent years. He wife Lyn live in an apartment at Newstead on the Brisbane River. They have two children, Bradley and Julie, and five grandchildren.

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AROUND THE GROUNDS ... A PICTORIAL LOOK AT EVENTS IN RECENT MONTHS

COX PLATE RACE DAY 2016

St George Dragons’ reps (from left) Andrew Fiatarone, Kelly Cassidy, Helen McCarthy, Jana Roland and Madison Grant at our Cox Plate race day.

Thank you to our MC Russell Barwick (left) and special guest Ben Elias.

(From left) Monique Baumann, Shane Marriott and Cath Raper enjoying the day.

NSWRL chairman Dr George Peponis supporting our fundraising on the day.

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The One Solutions group trackside. All images on this page courtesy of Steven K. Smith Photography


(From left) John Raper, John Greaves and Billy Smith at the Kangaroos reunion.

Toowoomba president Andrew O’Brien (left) with Ricky Davies.

Peter Foreman speaking with event MC, Pete Lazar, looking on.

Peter Foreman presenting NRL Victoria Contribution to Rugby League Community Award to Hallam Senior College, received by vice principal Dave Caughey.

(From left) Stuart Raper, Danny Miller, Steve Sinclair, ‘Toots’ Sinclair and Mark Edwards at the Gary Smith Memorial Fundraiser at Cowra.

(From left) Stuart Raper, Tony Branson, John Peard, Carol Weller and Chris Burke at the South Coast bowls day.

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‘STICKS’ OUT OF ‘RETIREMENT’ BY TONY DURKIN

And, as fate would have it, he was able to co-present the NRL trophy to his beloved Sharks, the team he coached when they were beaten in the historic grand final of 1978. Following an 11-all draw the first time the teams clashed, the replay three days later was won by the Sea Eagles 16-0. Still distraught over that result, the big man was pleased, and proud, to be on hand to witness the first premiership to the Sharks in their 50-year NRL tenure.

Norm Provan and Arthur Summons with the NRL trophy at the 2016 grand final. Photo: NRL Photos.

I

n late September 2015 one of the most iconic figures in rugby league, Norm Provan, made a call to retire from public life – so to speak.

honour. And he said that unless he made a remarkable recovery, that would be it – his long association with the game, in public, would be over.

Big Norm, or ‘Sticks’ to those who knew him when he played, has been unwell for some time. As a result of a fall in June two years ago, he suffered a form of quadriplegia and his mobility has been severely curtailed.

But while his recovery has probably not yet reached the remarkable stage, and the gentle giant is still rather unstable on his feet, his general health is much improved.

His health did not permit him to make it to the end-of-season social festivities in 2014, but he did attend the Dally M awards night last year, helping his good mate Arthur Summons present the SummonsProvan Medal to the player voted by the public as the most popular in the game. However he wasn’t at the 2015 grand final, and for the second time in 22 years could not help Summons hand over the premiership trophy named in their 38

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Big Norm now tips the scales at a ripping 85kgs and the colour that had drained from his battered body has duly returned. Such has been his comeback from the fall where he struck his head on a concrete path, that his decision to ‘retire’ from public appearances has been reversed. Thanks to the generosity of the NRL, Norm attended the Dally M awards night again this year, and stayed over in Sydney for the grand final four days later.

For those not familiar with his history, Norm Provan is one of the most highly-regarded players and coaches of all time, and an ornament to the game on and off the field. He played in 10 of the record 11 successive premierships won by St George from 1956 to 1966, and was captain-coach in four. That outstanding record is exemplified by his history in finals matches – he won 20 from 25 for an 80 per cent winning record. The significance of that figure is appreciated when compared to current-day giants of the game, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston. Smith has won 18 finals games from 28 appearances (64 per cent) and Thurston 11 from 20 (55 per cent). His health permitting, Provan hopes to be back at ANZ Stadium on grand final day again in 2017 to present the trophy on which he stands atop. And who knows, maybe one of the other teams he coached – the Dragons or the Eels – might be the recipient.


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REMEMBERING T The Foundation wishes to recognise the recent passing of the following people. For more tributes or expanded versions, go to www.menofleague.com

HARRY (DOUG) ANDERSON New Zealand international centre Harry ‘Doug’ Anderson passed away in October aged 89 after a brief illness. Doug, who played three Tests for the Kiwis, was the youngest member of the NZ team which toured Great Britain and France in 1947-48 and contested the 1954 World Cup.

GEORGE ALABAN

The North Coast committee patron and former Coffs Harbour and Macksville captain-coach George Alaban passed away in September. George was a ‘take no prisoners’ front-rower who played against the touring British side in the 1950s and became well respected North Coast publican.

Away from sporting activities, Neil had a highly successful career as a respected accountant, where he advised the varied local members of commerce. He was also president of the Manly Civic Club.

18 months ago and passed away on 4 October, aged 58. A large contingent of former Wynnum teammates attended his funeral in Townsville.

TERRY BUTLER

Bill ‘Curly’ Compton, born in Proserpine, passed away on 12 September, aged 90. One of seven children, he moved away from home at age 15 to take up a butchers apprenticeship in Bowen but later joined the air force where he was stationed in Townsville.

Terry Butler was a crowd pleasing winger for Wynnum-Manly Seagulls during the club’s golden era in the Brisbane competition in the early 1980s. A product of the Townsville Souths club, he played Foley Shield representative football for Townsville and Mount Isa, and had a season with Brisbane Brothers, where he played five-eighth.

Neil, 75, passed away peacefully on 24 October. From a young age, he became involved in various sports and developed into a rugged front-rower in rugby league, an accomplished cricketer, keen golfer (a gold member at Long Reef Golf Club) and had a keen eye for horse racing. He played his junior league days for Manly Christian Brothers, where he was bestowed with life membership.

When he joined Wynnum in 1981 with fellow Townsville Souths stars, Gene Miles, Colin Scott and Tony Kambouris, coach Des Morris persuaded him to play wing, given Kambouris and Tweed product Brian Walsh were front-runners for the number six jersey. Butler never looked back, scoring the first try in Wynnum’s inaugural premiership win - over Souths in 1982 - and representing Queensland against NSW the following year, when he also toured Papua New Guinea with the Maroons, and played for Combined Brisbane in the National Panasonic Cup.

He was destined to be graded by Manly, where he played first grade in 1962 and also played many games in reserve grade for the club before transferring to Eastern Suburbs. Upon retiring he successfully coached junior teams in the Manly competitions and the St Paul’s Catholic College Manly Open team.

In 1984 he featured in Wynnum’s 42-8 grand final thrashing of the Wayne Bennett-coached Souths. With Wynnum struggling financially, Butler joined Seagulls centre Brett French at North Sydney in 1986, and played four first grade matches. Butler, who had been working in the mines in Western Australia, was diagnosed with lung cancer

NEIL BERTOLI

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

BILL COMPTON

Compton was a true country footballer. In 1954, he won the A grade premiership in Townsville. He moved from town to town and ended up in Mundubbera in the Wide Bay region. Bill and his wife had four children and his love affair for footy continued, playing for the local side into his 30s. He later coached in Quilpie where he owned the local butcher shop. His nickname of Curly came about as he went bald as a young man.

THOMAS DEIGHTON

Tom was born in Waterloo. In a close-knit community, he played league in the juniors and was friends with many of the South Sydney players. Deighton played with Alexandria Rovers and was part of their D grade premiership winning team in 1950. Tom and wife Pat (Patsy) moved to Woy Woy in the 1980s and became involved with Woy Woy Roosters as a committeeman and manager of the reserve grade side and was a very popular man.


THOSE NOW GONE COL EGAN

A passionate supporter of rugby league, Col Egan was a stalwart in Port Moresby in the early 1970s, and met his wife Lyn while following the code in the Papua New Guinea capital. A former Brisbane Souths rugby union player and Surfers Paradise surf lifesaver, Col - with Lyn (who predeceased him) - embarked on Kangaroos Supporters tours in 1990 and 1994. He was a regular guest at Carbine Club State of Origin lunches, which was appropriate given his involvement with the code, and sport on the Gold Coast, where the club is based.

BILL JONES

Bill ‘Bones’ Jones passed away in Wyong Hospital at the age of 85. Bill was a tough front row forward for the Wyong Kangaroos in the 1960s. He was the first police constable to be stationed at Toukley on the Central Coast and made his mark on the field with Wyong in a time when the club had a young inexperienced first grade side. He was born in Scotland, served with the British Army just after World War II and migrated to Australia to join NSW Police. He was sent to Toukley from Hillston (Central West) to man the first police station and became respected in the community for his police work. A contingent from Wyong police, headed by Supt. Inspector Dave Wilkes, attended his funeral. Bill was one of five foundation members of Wyong Rugby League Club Limited when the club applied for a licence in 1971. He spent his remaining days visiting the club each morning. He leaves two sons, Peter and Barry.

KERRY KIME

Kerry, 72, passed in November after a long brave battle with illness. He and his loving wife Colleen lived at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains for over 30 years, where Kerry was a real jack of all trades, having been the local butcher for 23 years and a taxi owner for six. He was renowned for helping out many families over the years that were experiencing difficulties. He was a close friend of the late Laurie Nichols, Balmain Tigers’ number one supporter, and he could tell many funny tales about the experiences they had together. Even though living in the Blue Mountains, Kerry was a regular attendee, accompanied by his dear friend Tony Lewis, at the Sydney Metro committee functions and also attended functions held by the Chelsea Old Mates Social Group, where he was held in high regard. Kerry was a devout Rabbitohs supporter and a proud moment, when attending Sydney Metros events, was when he met Souths idols including Bob McCarthy, Gary and Wayne Stevens, Ray and Arthur Branighan and Bob Grant. In recent years Kerry had a trying time health wise but he had the admiration of all who had the pleasure to know because of his courage and determination to enjoy his life.

JIM LANG

Jim Lang, 80, was an amazingly committed man devoted to rugby league and the committee of Dubbo and western NSW. He was born at Wellington and moved to Wollongong in his teens where he played under-18s and reserve grade for Wollongong. He later worked for Sorby’s, a large steel

manufacturer and supplier in Wollongong, and rose through the ranks to be appointed manager of their new Dubbo outlet in 1968.

Jim immediately became involved with Dubbo Macquarie club and was a delegate to Group 11 from then to 1984. He was secretary of Group 11 from 1980 for seven years and was made a life member in 1984. He was a member of the Western Division board for seven years and secretary for six years and was eventually made life member of Western Division Rugby League. He was also a member of the Country Rugby League board for three years, working with John O’Toole, David Barnhill and others, plus was manager of the Country Origin team in 1984. He was Foundation member of the Dubbo Rugby League Challenge group and was also foundation patron and member of Men of League Western Region committee up until his passing. He had been a director of the huge Dubbo RSL Club Resort for 32 years, achieving life membership. He was also director of Dubbo RSL Orana Gardens Aged Care Facility for 15 years holding the position as Chairman for five of those.

RON MASSEY

One of rugby league’s most respected men passed away in September, aged 86. Ron Massey had given a lot to the game over more than 70 years after growing up in the Illawarra district. He played with the Collegians Club in Wollongong and when he moved to Sydney formed a tight bond with rugby league’s

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Team of the Century coach Jack Gibson. The two established a great record with the 1974 and 1975 premierships with Eastern Suburbs Roosters an three successive titles with Parramatta. ‘Mass’ also assisted Wayne Bennett over the years and was always willing to help any coach, player or official that contacted him for advice. He was secretary (CEO) of the Cronulla Sharks briefly in the 1980s. The Sydney community recognised Massey at a Men of League lunch in May 2012 at Doltone House with John Singleton among many others attended. In 2013 the NSWRL recognised Ron’s contribution to the game by renaming their second-tier competition the Ron Massey Cup. Ron is survived by his wife Patricia and sons, Paul and Luke and their families.

KEN MOIR

A respected stalwart of Wyong Rugby League, Kenneth Moir passed away suddenly on 6 September at age 77. Ken was active with the Wyong Roos for over 50 years after first playing with the club in 1960 as a rangy front-rower. He took on captain-coach of the reserve grade for three years after several seasons in the top grade and led his side to premiership wins in 1971 and 1972. He served on the board of directors during the 1970s for three years and was on the committee of the Wyong Roos Old Boys for the past 12 years. With the Central Coast developing quickly, the Wyong formed Toukley Rugby League Club and sent Ken to coach the new club. He stayed for three years and helped win Toukley’s first premiership in 1975. Ken also loved his cricket with Wyong and Toukley and the Wyong Wildcats Baseball Club. Ken was struck with heart troubles and was waiting for an operation when he passed away in Wyong Hospital. 42

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TED MORAN

Only months after having the lower part of his leg amputated, Ted passed away at the Estia Nursing Home in Tuncurry. Part of one of the Forster-Tuncurry Hawks’ iconic footballing families, Ted spent some of his best years as a paid player with Port Macquarie. He was regarded as one of the best and toughest back row forwards of his time and in his later years was well respected as a keen student of the game who had a special eye for identifying young talent from the local area. Ted was also a talented amateur boxer who travelled extensively to tournaments around the Mid North Coast and beyond. Blessed with a quick wit, Ted told a story during a Men of League visit not long before his passing.

PETER O’FLANAGAN

Friends and sporting celebrities packed the chapel at Melaleuca Crematorium in Chinderah to remember their late mate Peter ‘Flash’ O’Flanagan. O’Flanagan was well known and respected in Tweed and Gold Coast sporting circles and finished his playing career with Murwillumbah Old Boys when he was 38. He is survived by wife Jennifer and children Tracey, Shane and Jason. ‘Flash’ started his football days with Stanthorpe Gremlins and joined West Brisbane with coach Hugh Kelly in mid 1960s, headed to Old Boys where he won a premiership and then joined Cudgen in 1980. He played with Northern Rivers against the Poms. His son Shane is assistant coach of Intrust Super Cup side Northern Pride.

COL O’ROURKE

Col passed away peacefully with his family by his side on 28 October. He was a local legend in his playing days with the Queanbeyan Blues in the ‘60s and 70s.

BILL OWENS

Bill passed away on 26 October after a long illness. He played for Wests between 1954 and 1957 and 1960, and a season with Canterbury in 1958. A serious shoulder injury curtailed his promising career.

BOB PATERSON

The Victorian committee recently lost a good friend and supporter in Bob Paterson. A long-time member of the Keysborough Golf Club, Bob was a keen Richmond (AFL) supporter but had also become a Melbourne Storm follower. He provided valuable assistance to the Victorian committee each year during the running of the annual golf day and always enthusiastically supported raffles and other fund raising activities.

RON PERRY

Ron Perry passed away at the Estia Nursing Home facility in Tuncurry only a week after a visit from members of Men of League Mid North Coast. Originally from Mt Colah in Sydney, Ron played his junior football with Asquith before being graded with the North Sydney Bears in the early 1960s. He moved north to captain-coach the Forster Tuncurry Hawks in the mid-1960s and enjoyed the club’s golden years under Rex Elvin and the legendary Tony Paskins in the late 60s, winning two premierships. His funeral service at the Tuncurry Catholic Church was one of the biggest seen in the Twin Towns. Ron’s son Mick Perry is a longterm sponsor of our annual Forster Tuncurry golf day.

ERNEST POMFRETT

Ernie played his first game of football for Group 6 with Thirlmere third grade when he was only 13 and stayed with the cub for many years. In 1952 he changed to play


A grade for Picton Magpies and in 1955 he moved to Warragamba, playing A grade and winning the best and fairest award and continued when Warragamba.

and was a rangy red haired lock and extremely tough but mostly, very talented. Matthew passed away in his sleep in New Guinea, aged 51.

In 1960 Ernie joined Penrith, the first time he had been paid to play, but returned to Warragamba where he went on to play over 200 games and later coached the club and became an active member of the Warragamba Wombats for many years. He retired to Ulladulla in the 1990s but was often seen at Warragamba Wombat games watching his grandsons play.

LLOYD ROBSON

WILLIAM (BILL) RADFORD

Bill, of Kiama, passed away in October aged 88. Playing halfback and fullback, he was a handy goal kicker and in 1952 represented South Coast Seconds against Illawarra at Kiama Showground. He then became one of the top whistle blowers in Group 7, controlling four consecutive first grade grand finals from 1967 and was a match official on grand final days across the grades for two decades. Bill served the Group 7 Referees Association as president, vicepresident, secretary and treasurer and in 1976 was elected to the NSWRL referees examination board, a position he held for 19 years. He was a life member of the Group 7 Referees Association and Group 7 Rugby League and was a recipient of meritorious service award from CRL referees association. The Bill Radford Trophy for the most improved referee in Group 7 is presented annually.

MATTHEW RICHARDSON

Matthew Richardson first started playing minor league with Dapto during the early 1970s and progressed through to the senior ranks. He moved around a lot chasing work and while working in the mines in Queensland he represented Queensland Country sides. He was of English parentage

The Tweed community met in early October to celebrate the life of Lloyd Robson, 75, who has the main rugby league oval in Port Moresby named after him. Lloyd played his junior and grade football with Murwillumbah Old Boys and was club captain of Cudgen Headland Surf Club. He moved to New Guinea in 1963 and worked with the Public Works Department and became involved with the Hawks club and introduced water reticulation for the oval which went on to host three games for the 1989 and 1992 World Cups. He coached the under-18 and first grade at the Hawks and did plenty of work for PNGRL.

MAX SHORT

Max Short, 89, was Townsvilleborn and began his rugby league career with Centrals ASA. Known as ‘Twinkle Toes’ ,the little halfback switched to Souths after Centrals imported a second number seven. He represented Townsville and North Queensland and in 1953 was selected to play for Queensland against NSW and USA All Stars. Coached by Duncan Thompson, the team included Norm Pope, Ken McCaffery, Bobby Banks, Cyril Connell, Brian Davies and Alan Hornery and Kel O’Shea. Max was a generous man who supported many local causes but was especially prominent in his backing of the NQ Cowboys entry into the NRL. He served on the boards of the Cowboys’ football and the leagues club.

IAN SINCLAIR

Ian was a first-class all-round sportsman who represented Southern Division against the

touring French team in 1955 and played for Illawarra at cricket while, as a teenager, he won the National Service welterweight boxing title. goalkicking five eighth and centre, he played more than 50 first grade games for the Canaries in his four seasons and later became president of the Dapto rugby league and cricket clubs, as well as being president of the Dapto Leagues Club for 24 years. Ian also served as a board member of the Steelers club in their early days in the NSWRL.

JACK SOUTH

Jack grew up in Flemington, Sydney, and lived in a house that backed on to the Flemington livestock saleyards. He was a very good fullback, good under a high ball, light on his feet in attack and also a solid defender. He was a better than average goal kicker. He also played for Fairfield United in the Parramatta A grade competition. He became an official at Homebush and then later in life he was a great help in all capacities at the South Lidcombe Bulls. Jack was a great character, good footballer, a good horse rider, a good whip cracker and he always had the best car or motorbike, around town.

ARTHUR WINN

Long serving Cronulla Sharks official Arthur Winn passed away on 6 November, the day after his 93rd birthday. During his last few years he was under the care of his close friend and Cronulla doctor Peter Malouf. Arthur was a life member of the Como-Jannali juniors and played a major role in the Sharks’ move to the top competition in 1967. He began as club treasurer but midway through the season became club secretary. Monty Porter took over in 1968, but Arthur returned in 1970 and held the CEO/secretary position until 1982. He also served the NSWRL as a vice-president and an executive committee member.

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Wayne Pearce, Stephen Cartwright and Barry O’Farrell at the 2012 NSW Business Chamber Blue Bloods luncheon.

BUSINESS AND CARING GO TOGETHER LIKE BLACK AND GOLD BY AARON HENRY

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ugby league blood runs thick in the family of Stephen Cartwright and as chief executive officer of NSW Business Chamber, he’s making sure that it runs through the business community too. Cartwright is the grandson of Patrick (Pat) Tyler. Tyler grew up as one of the good old Balmain boys and ended up playing for the Balmain Tigers in the 1920s. Pat was a lock forward and played mostly reserve grade but managed a few games in first grade – which made him and his family still nearly 90 years later – diehard Tigers fans. To add to his rugby league stock, Cartwright’s uncle, Mike Tyler was also chairman of the Newcastle Knights after playing in the junior grades for the Tigers. From the 15th floor of the business chamber ‘s head Office in North Sydney, Cartwright talks proudly and passionately about the game of rugby league and his love for the Tigers. “Absolutely, I’m a Tigers man,” he said. “It’s been in my blood line for a long time.” 44

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“I grew up in a crazy Tigers household. The whole family was fanatical. One of my first memories when I was about five years old was the 1969 grand final when they beat Souths and of course that was a big day for the family. That moment is vivid in my memory.” Keen rugby league historians will recall that the lock forward for South Sydney in that 1969 grand final game was Ron Coote – a strange quirk of rugby league history that would remotely link both the business chamber and the Men of League Foundation well before either organisation existed. Cartwright’s love for the black and gold and his commitment to the game has permeated into his work life. A recent project of the business chamber is a program designed to help school leavers navigate the whole process of school to work, known as Skillsroad. Cartwright’s history as the founding managing director and CEO of Chandler MacLeod Group, one of the largest publicly listed companies operating in the Australasian recruitment, contracting and human resources sector, has given him great insights into


helping people navigate their careers. This experience lead him to advise the National Rugby League on assisting retiring professional players transition to employment or study and life after football. At the opposite end of that career timeline, Skillsroad helps young people leaving school, including many who aspire to be full-time rugby league players, find careers that suit their personality type, research on occupations and assistance with applying for jobs.

and Ron Coote. Cartwright talks of this first time meeting Coote. “I had lunch with Ron Coote and Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach. Blocker is always entertaining at lunch time and I think that Ron is such a wonderful man, such a gentleman and such a genuine person for what he was trying to achieve. “Three years in a row we supported the Men of League Foundation as our dedicated charity associated with our State of Origin, NSW Blue Bloods lunch.

“We use prominent footy players to try and convince kids that education, skills and training is something they should think about,” he said. “If we have a stand at a careers expo the footy players bring the kids over which is a good thing.

“We continue to support the Foundation and I believe there are ways that rugby league loving corporations can find unique opportunities to provide a level of support to the Foundation, where it’s mutually beneficial.”

“We work with players like Andrew Ryan, Nathan Cayless, Luke Patten, Jamal Idris, Aiden Guerra, Justin Hodges and Matt Moylan.”

As for his beloved Tigers, Stephen still gets out to NRL games, but life as a CEO and father of five boys keeps him busy. Rest assured, those five sons are all Tigers fanatics and bleed black and gold. The Cartwright family wouldn’t have it any other way.

This commitment to caring for the rugby league community is another link between Stephen Cartwright

BMD is proud to come on board as naming rights sponsor of the Men of League’s BMD Qld Welfare program. As a family owned and operated company, we work in partnership with organisations such as Men of League who embody our family values. BMD is a national group of companies engaged in engineering design, construction and land development for clients and partners in the urban development, transport infrastructure and resources and energy sectors. Since 1979, BMD has employed a relationship based business model founded on certainty, collaboration and performance. With more than 1,700 staff throughout Australia, BMD has the resources and experience to deliver projects ranging in size from $1 million to over $1 billion. www.bmd.com.au

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OUR RUGBY LEAGUE HEROES...

ERIC WEISSEL

We look back in the extraordinary talent of Riverina legend and Test player, Eric Weissel, who had the region’s main playing field named after him. BY BARRY ROSS

This is despite the all-round sportsman, who once dismissed Australia’s greatest cricketer at the SCG, being restrained from playing representative matches for several seasons by his country club. Named as one of Australia’s top 100 players in the game’s centenary year, Weissel was born in the tiny village of Brawlin on 16 February 1903, the 11th child of railway fettler Edward Weissel. It was after World War I before he began regularly playing league, and he soon after became a legendary figure in the country-famous Maher Cup inter-town competition which began in 1921. Weissel was 19 when he played his first Maher Cup game in 1922. It coincided with an amazing run of success. From 23 August 1922 to 25 June 1924, Cootamundra had an unbeaten run of 19 matches until beaten 10-7 by Temora. However, a week later ‘Coota’ reclaimed the Cup when they journeyed to Temora and beat the locals 17-6. That win was the start of another unbeaten run of 13 games. Weissel finished with 45 Maher Cup matches for Cootamundra, winning 39, drawing one and losing just five. In those games, he scored 84 points from 22 tries and nine goals. Eric Weissel ... one of bush football’s greatest achievers.

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ootamundra’s Eric Weissel’s name may not be commonly known by Sydney-centric and Queensland league followers but, in the bush, he was a super-hero of his time, ranking with contemporary Wally Prigg as perhaps the greatest footballers never to have left the NSW country areas. The English press, in 1932, described Cootamundraborn as “the greatest all-round exponent of rugby league since Dally Messenger” and Leeds’ resident Australian hero, Dinny Campbell, rated Weissel above the legendary Vic Hey as Australia’s greatest number six in the game’s first three decades. 46

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The next season he progressed through Group 9 selection to Southern Districts and NSW Country and Temora club enticed Weissel with the captain-coach role for the 1927 season on a salary of 100 pounds and a job with Riverina firm, J. Thom and Company, when the basic wage in those years was less than five pounds per week. However, the financial rewards came at a price Temora continually denied him permission to play rep football on the basis that they were paying him big money to play for the club. After marrying his long-term girlfriend Eileen Cashman in 1928, he was given permission to play on the rep


scene that year and played five-eighth for Country Firsts in their 35-34 win over City at the SCG and was selected for the NSW Second XIII who beat Queensland 22-9 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Next he was a reserve for NSW in the clash with Queensland and back at Cootamundra he won the man of the match award when South Western Districts played a 14-all draw with England. After missing selection for the first Test at Brisbane, which England won 15-12, he was chosen for his first Test appearance in the second clash, won by England 8-0 at the SCG. After holding his place for the third Test a week later, Weissel performed well in Australia’s 21-14 victory. He was then selected for NSW to play Queensland in Brisbane but Temora would not allow him to play. St George gave him a good financial offer for the 1929 season but he wanted to stay with Temora and it proved wise as he was chosen for the 1929-30 Kangaroo tour of England. After leaving Sydney, the Kangaroos sailed to Vancouver Canada, with stopovers in Fiji and Honolulu. Then came a train trip across Canada and onto New York for departure by luxury ship Aquitania to Southampton and a train to Leeds. The team was away for almost eight months with each player receiving four pounds 10 shillings a week ($9) plus an end of tour bonus of 150 pounds. Weissel played all three Tests, plus 17 other tour games and finished with a total of 127 points (5 tries, 56 goals), which was a Kangaroo tour record at the time. Temora softened their stance and allowed their star to play some representative football in some ensuing seasons. In 1930 he was captain of NSW Country and the NSW team that beat Queensland 16-11 in Sydney, however Temora only allowed him to play if he was back for Temora’s game the next day. The NSWRL paid for a driver to transport Weissel home overnight and he played well in Temora’s win over Canowindra. Temora would not allow him to play for the Kangaroos v The Rest in Sydney or for Southern Districts against New Zealand and he was ordered to take a complete break from rep games in 1931. However, with another Kangaroos tour at the end of the 1932 season, Weissel elected to stand down from the Temora captain-coach position and his class saw him immediately reinstated to the NSW Country, NSW and Australian team for the first Test against England at the SCG (he played centre in the 8-6 loss). He returned to five-eighth for the other two Tests, won 15-6 and lost 18-13.

Weissel in his Australian jersey.

His effort in the famous ‘Battle of Brisbane’ in the second Test, is part of folklore. He was one of three Australians on the sideline being treated for injuries when he leapt back onto the field, picked up the loose ball from a midfield kick and ran 65 metres on an injured ankle. The Australians scored the match winning try from the next play. The deciding Test was Weissel’s last of his eight in the green and gold. He missed the tour of England and retired from rep football in 1933 but continued with Temora until the end of the 1934 season. Under his guidance the club had a great record, winning 15 and drawing one of 21 Maher Cup matches. In 1935, he took an executive position with Vacuum Oil in Narrandera. There was no rugby league side in this town but with Weissel’s arrival a club was soon formed and came out of retirement at age 32 to captain-coach for two years. In 1937 he captain-coached Yanco and in 1938 joined the Wagga Magpies for his final season although in 1946, at age 43, he had a brief swansong with the Magpies, playing four games. Weissel was exceptional at many other sports including cricket, Australian Football, soccer, tennis and cycling, while he also had a fine tenor voice and sang in the Temora Church of England choir for many years. He scored 218 not out and took 6-47 for Riverina in a 1926-27 Country Week cricket match in Sydney. In another match in that series at the SCG he top-scored with 42 then caught and bowled Southern Districts’ star young batsman, also originally from Cootamundra, who went by the name of Donald Bradman. Weissel, who played top grade cricket in Wagga Wagga into his 50s, passed away at his home in Wagga in 1972, aged 69.

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ADVERTORIAL FUNERAL INSURANCE: A BIGGER BURDEN THAN EXPECTED Making end of life decisions is never easy, and planning a funeral is no exception. Often advertised as “peace of mind for the price of a cup of coffee a day”, funeral insurance is a popular choice for many Australians looking to ease the burden of their own death on their family and loved ones. Yet despite the promises of ‘making life easier’, according to a report by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), funeral insurance often creates more hassle than it’s worth. Released in 2015, the report found that 80 percent of funeral insurance policies were cancelled before they were used, the main reason being cost. The report also found that over $315 million was spent on funeral insurance premiums; nearly three times what was paid out in claims. “These findings reveal that many people opt out of their insurance well before using it because of the rising cost of repayments as you age,” said Simplicity Funerals spokesperson George McNeill. “We’ve found people often tick the funeral insurance box as they age to look after their families, but in the process they fail to do the necessary research to ensure they can make the payments in the long term. Naturally premiums go up as you age, but your income drops once you stop working. It is imperative anyone considering such a plan considers how he or she will afford it once money stops coming in.” Fortunately, there are several other options with similar intent, but without the long-term price tag for those wanting to protect their loved ones.

THESE ALTERNATIVES INCLUDE: • High-interest savings account A direct deposit account set up during employment can help fund funeral expenses without ongoing costs. “If regular contributions are made, a healthy kitty can be built quickly,” added Mr McNeill. “The challenge here however is there is nothing but your own self to stop you from using these funds for something else. It is also hard to predict how much will be needed in 30 years time.” • Funeral bonds A funeral bond is similar to a savings account but the funds are only released once death occurs. Unlike savings, a funeral bond is also considered an asset under the Centrelink deeming rules for pensions and part pensions. A funeral bond of up to $12,250 is excluded. It doesn’t however lock in the rate of your funeral or guarantee against rising costs. • Prepaid funeral The third option is a prepaid funeral plan. Here costs are fixed at today’s rates and payment can be spread over three years. Prepaid funeral plans are also exempt from the Centrelink deeming rules for pension and part pension entitlements, meaning they can reduce your assessable asset threshold ahead of the planned changes to pensions in early 2017. Mr McNeill advised that taking care of funeral costs in full while still working was a favourable option as it eliminated several future concerns. “Before purchasing insurance you should consider the cost of the event, now and in the future, your future income and likely pension entitlements, your family and most importantly, your farewell desires,” he said.

For more information, call Simplicity Funerals on 1300 556 222 or visit www.simplicityfunerals.com.au

NOTE: Simplicity Funerals are a major supporter of Men of League Foundation.

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BMD AND MEN OF LEAGUE FORMALISE RELATIONSHIP

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amily owned and operated organisation BMD has a proud history of supporting Men of League in their quest to support members and families in the rugby league community. This relationship was formalised in July with the announcement that BMD had partnered with Men of League to create the BMD Queensland welfare program. The four year partnership is valued at $150,000 and also includes the supply of a vehicle for Men of League’s Queensland welfare and education officer Mark Bunting. The official partnership with Men of League builds on BMD’s long standing history of supporting the rugby league community with the organisation having sponsored the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in Brisbane for over 20 years. Founder and managing director of the BMD Group, Mick Power AM, has close ties with the club, having played with the Seagulls in his junior years before earning a place in Wynnum Manly’s first senior premiership, the undefeated Colts team of 1969. After playing a year of grade football in 1970, Mick retired to peruse a career in engineering before establishing the BMD Group in 1979. Mick has also shared a close relationship with North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green for many years, with Green head coach at the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in 2010 and 2011 prior to making the move into the NRL. Mick Power said BMD is proud to have come on board as naming rights sponsor of the Men of League’s BMD Queensland welfare program. “BMD has grown from a small Queensland family company to become one of Australia’s largest privately owned construction, consulting and urban development organisations,” he said. “As a family owned and operated company, we are pleased to have partnered with Men of League who focus on supporting members and families in the rugby league community.” Group executive director – operations, Scott Power, said the Men of League Foundation embodies BMD’s values. “At BMD we are proud of our company heritage. This heritage means we value each individual, we respect and encourage diversity, and we create and promote a sense of belonging,” he said. “We are proud to be naming rights sponsor of the Men of League’s

Queensland welfare officer Mark Bunting with his new vehicle, sponsored by BMD.

BMD Queensland welfare program which embodies our family values. “At BMD we work in partnership with indigenous and non-indigenous organisations to achieve long lasting benefits in areas including health and wellbeing, arts and culture, job creation, environment, and social and community development.” Queensland state manager Frank Barrett said Men of League was thrilled to have BMD partner with the Queensland welfare program, after it had supported the Foundation for several years in many different ways. “BMD epitomises everything the Men of League Foundation represents. They are honest and hardworking people, who care about the wellbeing of the community, especially in rugby league circles,” he said. “Welfare is the major pillar within the Foundation’s operations and to have the BMD brand partnered with this portfolio adds significant weight to the status it holds within the community.” BMD was founded on the principle of achieving success through people and supporting the communities in which the company operates across Australia. Similarly, BMD’s construction procurement policy is focused on engaging locally based suppliers and owner operators rather than owning and maintaining a fleet of equipment. This policy, which has been in place since BMD’s inception in 1979, then serves to maximise the opportunity for local input with flow on effects in the training and development of locally based staff engaged on the project. With its origins in Queensland, BMD is a national group of companies in engineering design, construction and urban development for clients and partners in the transport infrastructure, urban development and resources and energy sectors. With around 1700 staff throughout Australia, BMD has the capability and experience to deliver projects ranging in size from $1 million to over $1 billion.

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THE PAIN OF BEING A TOP DOG Tony Currie, devoted Men of League supporter, still looks fit enough to play. He talks about his experiences in Brisbane, Sydney and England. BY STEVE RICKETTS

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y his own admission, Tony Currie became something of a gym junkie when he joined the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs from Wests in Brisbane in midway through the 1986 season. Even now, Currie’s build exudes fitness and strength as he goes about his work at his Tyres & More Service Centre at Morningside in Brisbane’s east. The former Test centre, who turns 54 on Christmas Day, is a staunch supporter of Men of League and has the utmost respect for the history of the game. Currie paid his own way to England in September to attend the memorial service of legendary administrator Harry Jepson who was instrumental in Currie signing for Leeds in 1985. Just a few days after returning from England, Currie travelled to Sydney for the Bulldogs’ reunion, catching up with old mates and reminiscing about the 1988 grand final win over Balmain. “I had already played State of Origin for Queensland, and plenty of tough club footy for Leeds in England and Wests and Redcliffe in Brisbane, but nothing prepared me for what was to come at Canterbury, under (coach) Warren Ryan,” Currie recalls. “We used to train until our eyes bled. I would be at work with Bankstown Council, thinking all day, ‘I have to train from 6 o’clock to 8 o’clock and go through all manner of pain’. It was scary. “Canterbury were big on the weights, and they had a hell of a pack. They were known as the dogs of war. It was great to play behind them. I discovered I was a bit of a gym junkie. I was only 89kg, but I could out lift a lot of the forwards.” Currie attended Kelvin Grove High in Brisbane’s inner north and started his senior football with Wests, returning for a final season in 1993, after a career which included seven Tests, 13 State of Origin games for Queensland and premierships with Canterbury (1988) and the Brisbane Broncos (1992).

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In 1982 Currie won the Rothmans Gold Medal as Brisbane’s best and fairest player, replicating the effort of his uncle Alan Currie who won the medal from Easts in 1977. “Alan was my hero,” Currie says. “He was such a hard man, who played well above his weight. When Easts won the 1972 grand final and Uncle Alan was helping to hold up the trophy, I climbed onto his shoulders and got in the team photograph which is on display at Easts Leagues Club.” Currie’s first trophy was the 1984 National Panasonic Cup, as a member of the Combined Brisbane side, coached by legendary former South Sydney forward Bob McCarthy. Brisbane beat Sydney Easts 12-11 in a pulsating final at Leichhardt Oval. But it was his time with Leeds in England which took Currie’s play to the next level. “In Brisbane things came too easy,” he recalls. “I would party with my mates and all that stuff. But when I went to Leeds I had to knuckle down. I was on match payments only and I had two good seasons with them.

much of the ‘91 season following shoulder surgery and had come to the end of his Broncos’ contract. Currie thought that was it, but Broncos chief executive John Ribot offered him a one-year extension, with the proviso he retired at the end of the year. “I was a broken-down hack, and I got my biggest pay day ever,” Currie said. “I think it was $75,000. ‘Ribes’ said it was because I had been good for the club and Wayne wanted to reward me.’’ Currie came off the bench in the grand final victory against St George. As it transpired, he had one more season - with his beloved Wests and he played in the 1993 BRL grand final, an 18-12 win over Easts. That Wests side featured future Queensland Origin skipper Adrian Lam at halfback and future dual international Brad Thorn in the forwards. Currie has little memory of the match. “I took out Easts’ centre Geoff Bell early in the contest,” Currie said. “I was old and grumpy, I suppose, and reacted to a tackle by rolling over and elbowing him.

Currie effectively had five seasons back-to-back, given league in England was a winter sport at the time.

“Later in the match, after I passed the ball, (Easts halfback) Paul Green got me with a classic stiff arm, as a square off. They tell me I was snoring when they carried me off. I probably had it coming to me, and Greeny and I still laugh about it now.”

He played for Wests in ‘84, Leeds in ‘84-85, Redcliffe in ‘85, Leeds in ‘85-86, Wests in ‘86 and went to Canterbury mid-season when fullback Mick Potter broke his leg.

Currie gave his heart and soul to Wests, first as secretary manager of the leagues club at Bardon in 1994 and then as president and benefactor from 2007 to 2012.

Leeds’ Australian coach Mal Clift had recommended Currie to Canterbury, the club he had coached to the 1974 Sydney grand final.

He had a successful stint as coach of London Broncos from 1996 to ‘98. With the money he earned there he was able to buy the tyre business.

Currie started his career as a fullback, but played most of his career in the centres, including the 1988 grand final win.

In his first season with London, the side reached the semi-finals of the new Super League summer competition in 1996, only to be bundled out by St Helens 25-14.

“They wanted to sign me long term, but I still wanted to play for Queensland and Australia, so I came home.”

The Bulldogs were keen to keep Currie but he wanted to return to Brisbane and, fortuitously for him, Broncos coach, Wayne Bennett was looking to beef up his backline. From the Broncos, Currie played all three matches for Queensland in their ’88 whitewash of the Blues and toured New Zealand with the Bob Fulton-coached Australian side that beat the Kiwis in all three Tests. But for a snapped Achilles early in 1990, he undoubtedly would have toured England and France with the Kangaroos at the end of the season. He also missed

The penalty count was heavily in Saints’ favour, the British media blaming the spoiling tactics of the Broncos side that was dominated by Australian players. Currie had suspicions that there may have been more to it. “We had a team made up almost entirely of Australians, players like Gavin Allen, Peter Gill, Terry Matterson, Tony Rea and Kevin Langer,” Currie said. “And it mightn’t have looked good if we had made the inaugural grand final.”

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Action from the 1973 BRL grand final between Valleys and Redcliffe which attracted a record crowd of 42,000, (from left) referee Bernie Pramberg, Russell Hughes (on ground), Gerry Fitzpatrick (with the ball), Robin Orchard (on ground), Hugh O’Doherty and John Crilly.

BRISBANE BEFORE THE BRONCOS From the game’s creation in Australia in 1908 until the spawning of the Broncos in 1988, Brisbane Rugby League’s club competition (the BRL was created in 1922) produced Test stars, classic matches, big TV audiences and a way of life in Queensland. Now the great era is being chronicled in a book. BY STEVE HADDAN

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couldn’t believe my luck when I took my seat for the 2010 Queensland Cup grand final at Suncorp Stadium. Moments earlier I’d been hosting a reunion of premiership players from the old Brisbane Rugby League competition and, as we broke for the main game, here I was alongside rugby league royalty. To my left were Valleys’ legends Jeff Gill and Hughie O’Doherty who each contested five successive grand finals from 1969-74, on my right sat Ron Stanton and Len Blaik who steered Easts to a 14-10 win over Wests at The Gabba in 1950, a match Courier-Mail scribe Jack Reardon ranked “one of the hardest grand finals in years”. Suddenly it hit me. Few around us knew who these people were. Gill and O’Doherty each played for Queensland and were among the best players of their 52

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era, while Stanton, who played a season at St George in 1952, and Blaik were a part of a golden era at Eastern Suburbs which yielded six consecutive grand final appearances. Bona fide superstars each, now just “old blokes” lost in the crowd. It seemed the story of the mighty Brisbane rugby league, prior to the arrival of the Brisbane Broncos which lured generations of fans to the game, was being allowed to wither on the vine as if it never happened. Not on my watch. I’d come to the game as an eight-year old during the sixties. If that magical decade was all about Batman, The Beatles, World Championship Wrestling and Muhammad Ali, rugby league was the juxtaposition of all four elements, heaven sent to enthral a young kid constantly in need of entertainment.


It began with colouring in the action shots in the Sunday newspaper, Sydney’s Sun-Herald with its double page spread of the match of the day from the SCG, just behind the comics. Soon after, a trip with my late father to watch Great Britain take on my home team of Toowoomba at the famous Athletic Oval in 1966 was the ultimate step. In the weeks before the big game, my mother recalls never seeing a child so excited. As these giants - bruised and battered after a particularly violent encounter - filed from the field, I scrambled to get the great John McDonald’s autograph. Each and every league fan has a recollection of the moment rugby league becomes a friend for life.

Valleys' grand final heroes from the club’s golden era of six successive grand finals from 1969-74 – Hugh O’Doherty, John McCabe, Marty Scanlan and Mick Retchless – at the book launch at Suncorp Stadium.

In the subsequent years, it was the images of Gill and O’Doherty and their ilk, beamed in black and white into our homes from Lang Park by the ABC and later Channel 7, who enthralled me. My weekly blue with my kid sister Susie - who wanted to watch Young Talent Time – also became part of the ritual. Live radio broadcasts with Billy J. Smith and Ross Lawson and regular trips to the Athletic Oval helped fan the love affair with league into blazing life.

Dennis Manteit, Des Morris, Ross Strudwick and Wally Lewis helped fill in the gaps.

After completing a third edition of my Sydney-based story ‘The Finals: 100 Years of National Rugby League Finals’ in 2008, the desire to replicate the format for the old Brisbane Rugby League became irresistible.

‘Our Game’ is about our heroes and our memories, now etched passionately and reverently, for the players, their families and fans. It’s about the things we love, that make our lives fun and exciting. It’s about saying thank you and acknowledging what brought me to a game that has provided both employment and a lifetime of enjoyment.

After finishing a 20-year career as a sports reporter at Channel Nine in Brisbane in 2010, I made an appointment to see Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant (a former Southern Suburbs and international centre) and when told of my intentions to chronicle this part of the game’s history, Grant and his company, Data #3, agreed to purchase 500 books. Former Wynnum lower grader Mick Power, from the BMD Group, a most generous supporter of the game, and trucking industry giant Spencer Grammer saw merit in what I was attempting and threw some skin in the game. I now had a book to write. So began a three-year odyssey that became something akin to a spiritual experience. A colleague, former Courier-Mail writer Steve Ricketts, had managed to salvage the meticulous scrapbooks kept by famous Brisbane pressmen Laurie Kearney and Jack Reardon, which date back to the 1930s, before they ended up in a skip bin at Bowen Hills. Trips to the State Library in Brisbane, to the homes of former players and mercurial rugby league historian and collector Paul Hayes, and conversations with dozens of former players including Barry Muir, Marty Scanlan,

Who would have thought all those years ago, standing just fence-high at the Athletic Oval, that one day I’d get to document the history of the mighty BRL and place the story of the great players, clubs, battles and controversies and all they meant to generations of fans, front and centre again.

Last month I received an email from Brett La Caze, the son of two-time Brothers grand finalist Paul. He writes, “I just wanted to send you a quick reply to thank you for the excellent book that you have written. I have just returned from visiting my father in his nursing home where his is unfortunately spending his last days after being struck down with dementia. I spent today's visit reading exerts about him from your book and I could tell that he remembered the days of playing for Brothers as though they were yesterday. He could recall a lot of the names of his teammates and it brought a genuine smile to his face, and for that I thank you so much. It will be a memory that I will treasure when he is gone.” “OUR GAME” is more than just a story, it’s a re-enactment of sorts for the many players and footy fans of Queensland who remember the BRL competition as their pinnacle league allegiance and a way of life for decades. The book is available now www.stevehaddan.com.au

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CENTRAL COAST COMMITTEE PROFILE BY AARON HENRY

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itting halfway between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast can often struggle for its own identity. This certainly applies when it comes to a National Rugby League team, but doesn’t apply when it comes to the grassroots of the game. Rugby league is well established on the Central Coast and the large numbers of children aged 10-15 playing the game on the coast speaks well for the future of the game. Equally well established within the rugby league community is the Foundation’s Central Coast committee. The Central Coast committee in New South Wales are one of the longer standing committees of the Men of League Foundation and their experience in caring for the rugby league community certainly shows.

Central Coast golf day at Shelly Beach.

“We all know that there are people in the rugby league family who need our help. "So we have always been focused on raising money to help those who are most in need and looking after those people with our important welfare work.

The golf day, race day and bowls day all held annually have grown so popular that the Central Coast committee added a new event to their stable in 2016 – the Inaugural State of Origin luncheon.

“The Central Coast small business community, local sporting clubs, leagues clubs and hotels are always willing to support us. This support is evident by the success of our events.”

Current Central Coast committee president and former international fullback Don Parish says it’s a testament to the hard work shown by the dedicated committee of 11 members.

Word will get around the tight-knit rugby league community on the Central Coast if someone is doing it tough and needs a hand up. The welfare officers make frequent house and hospital visits and spend many hours connecting with people who are most at need in the rugby league community.

“A strong focus of the committee has been fundraising,” Parish said.

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The Central Coast have three dedicated welfare officers but every member of the committee takes part in the regular welfare visits. Central Coast committee publicity officer Dennis Tomsett also reflects on the commitment of the committee. “Every member of our committee takes part in whatever is needed to be done for welfare," he said. "It’s not just left for the welfare officers. It’s important that as many of us as possible get out there and help those who need it. Calling in for a coffee and quick chat can really help someone a long way.” With dedication like this to caring for the rugby league community, an NRL team might be just around the corner for the Central Coast.


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BRITAIN’S MR RUGBY LEAGUE Harry Jepson was one of the great gentlemen of the British game who had an enduring passion for the Australian game, and giving unknowns a pathway to glory at Leeds. He was still serving the game until his recent death at age 96. BY GREG SHANNON

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arry Jepson never laced a rugby league boot at senior level. Yet his contribution to the sport in Britain, and his enduring fondness and relationship of mutual respect with many of Australia’s greatest players and officials, made him a treasure of the sport. Well known to many in Australia and the catalyst for the pathway to Headingley and the Leeds club for a parade of players from Down Under, Jepson passed away at the grand old age of 96 in August on anniversary of the day the game was born in Britain. He’d led an eventful life which included 35 years in the teaching profession, raising a family, serving in the British army during World War II and a lifetime love affair with rugby league. An inaugural member of the Rugby Football League’s board of directors, he served as the president of Leeds Rhinos right up until the time of his passing and just a few weeks before he died he was awarded an honorary doctorate in education from Leeds University.

Harry Jepson flanked by two of the ‘unknown' Aussies who found glory in Leeds, Tony Marchant (Wynnum-Manly) and Colin Maskell (Valleys), during a visit to England by the pair.

Jepson’s positive influence spread through many levels of the game both in the UK and Australia and it would be true to say he developed a deep respect and admiration for Australia almost as great as his beloved England.

the Paddington Tavern near Lang Park and he had arranged for all the old players who had played for Leeds to be there. Jeff Moores, Bob McMaster, Eric Harris, they were all there, that was a great day and what a lovely gesture.”

He first came to Australia in 1982 as manager of the Great Britain Colts side that included future Great Britain internationals Shaun Wane, Lee Crooks and David Hulme and during this time met and forged a strong relationship with the QRL and, in particular, president at the time, the late Ron McAuliffe. Jepson spoke in glowing terms of the late senator who, like him, was a World War II veteran and a respected rugby league administrator.

Moores and Harris, two of Queensland’s favourite sons of the 1920s and 1930s, became heroes to the young Jepson when they played in England and soon after his admiration for Aussies increased through the feats of 1946 international Arthur Clues who became a legend of Leeds and great friend of Jepson’s, and Queensland reps Ted Verrenkamp, Lenny Kenny, Harry Bath and former Wallaby Bob McMaster.

“That tour gave me my first real view of Australian rugby league and the people who organised it and the players and their constructive attitude towards the game in England,” he said. “Ron McAuliffe was a great man, and when I first went to Brisbane he invited me to a luncheon at 56

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The next year Jepson was the driving force in ensuring a proposed tour of England by the Queensland team went ahead, committing Leeds and convincing Hull KR and Wigan to also take on the Maroons. Jepson was born and raised in the township of Hunslet, outside Leeds, and was encouraged from a young age by his father, a Gallipoli veteran who


worked as a tram conductor, to seek a good education and a job with a sound superannuation scheme. A child of the Great Depression era, Jepson would often talk of the influence of his hard-working father, who also took him to the famous Leeds home ground of Headingley, as a six-year-old, to attend a Yorkshire cricket match.

mid-1960s until his passing in late August, Jepson was an integral part of the Leeds club. In the early 1980s he became director of football and was pleased to bring several Australians to the club. One of the first players to move to the UK in this era was Redcliffe player Terry Webb. The list of Australians who wore the Leeds colours in Jepson’s time is long and impressive including Tony Currie, Andrew Ettingshausen, Wally Fullerton Smith, Sam Backo, Eric Grothe, Mark McGaw, Cliff Lyons during the 80s through to more recently Scott Donald, Brent Webb and Danny Buderus who drew warm praise from Jepson.

He was back to the famous stadium seven years later in 1933 to perform the duties of ball boy for a Great Britain v Australia Test match. In an interview the day of the 2016 World Club Challenge between the Leeds Rhinos and the NQ Toyota Cowboys, Jepson spoke with great affection of his eight trips to Australia, his relationship with Australians and in particular the QRL but glowed that his day as a ball boy stood out in his memory as the Headingley field had to be covered in straw in an attempt to melt the ice before the players took the field.

Jepson recalled how he received a call from Maroons player Greg Dowling in 1984 who said he had a young centre at Wests Brisbane called Tony Currie. “He needs some experience, Harry,” Jepson remembered Dowling say. “Tony came for two seasons and he was typical of Australian players who came here as unknowns and went on to become State of Origin players and internationals.”

After completing school, Jepson worked briefly for the Leeds City Council before completing a year long apprenticeship to become a teacher and was on the way to forging a career in education when war broke out. Called up for military service in 1940, he was to spend the next five years in uniform, serving his country in the North Africa campaigns and the allied invasion of Italy.

One player who had the longest relationship with Jepson was Hunslet-raised league legend Garry Schofield, who not only played at Leeds (and Hull) but was taught by Jepson at primary school and continued to call him Mr Jepson.

It was in the years after the war when teaching at a Hunslet school known as Beverley Street School that Jepson became involved in the game's administration as the headmaster of the school was also the president of the Hunslet club. After many years of service to the club, Jepson's circumstances changed with a transfer to a Leeds school. Soon after he was approached by chairman of Leeds Loiners (as the Rhinos were then known) to join the club. At first hesitant, Jepson took up the offer, a decision he later described as one of the best of his life. So, from the

“Two things he brought to people’s lives were respect and discipline, two very important things,” said the Great Britain hall of famer. “He was Mr Rugby League and the game will be forever indebted to him.” “He was a Rugby League legend, despite never playing the game,” said boss of the Leeds club Gary Hetherington. “Harry Jepson, OBE was a gentleman, innovator and great ambassador for the game. He touched the lives of many of us.”

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COMMITTEE NEWS BRISBANE

BUNDABERG

The Brisbane committee's decision to co-host a lunch with Wynnum-Manly Rugby League proved an outstanding success, with a big turnout for the 28 August function at BMD Kougari Oval ahead of the Seagulls’ final home game of the year against Ipswich in the Intrust Super Cup.

By the time you all get to read this edition of what is happening in Bundaberg, all of our 2016 fundraising will be over.

BY STEVE RICKETTS, PUBLICITY OFFICER

BY TERRY DODD, PRESIDENT

Former Test centre Chris Johns was guest speaker, flying in from Bangkok that day, after attending a friend’s wedding. Other interview subjects were Chris McKenna (like Johns, a former Test player); Wynnum coach John Buchanan; retiring Wynnum player Tim Natusch (a former Newcastle Knight) and Channel 9 and Radio TAB personality Peter Psaltis. McKenna is now a coaching and development officer for the southern bayside area of Brisbane and Redlands. In the audience were the likes of former Wynnum halfback Maurice (Ned) Green (father of Cowboys' coach Paul), former Manly and St George prop Neil Tierney, former Bronco Ron Troutman and MP for Lytton, Joan Pease. Foundation members from Redlands have approached the Brisbane committee about the prospect of establishing a sub-committee in the district, something which will be raised at state level. Brisbane secretary Vance Rennie was the committee's nomination as Queensland volunteer of the year, with the award going to the Sunshine Coast’s Tony Durkin at the annual Queensland lunch at the Convention Centre on 2 September. Vance has been selfless with his dedication to hospital and home visits. Former Brisbane Easts strength and conditioning coach Paul Bowes, one of the many people Vance has visited, has been discharged from hospital after extensive treatment for serious burns, but will require further surgery.

Back in May the golf day was held the day after our annual general meeting. This day is always enjoyed by our golfers and workers, financially the day was great, with a lot of players using the event for fellowship and catching up with mates. Our major sponsor for the day was again XXXX (this was their 7th year) and a special thanks to Jo, the XXXX rep, for her support. Unfortunately Jo has had an accident since then and has been doing it tough ever since; our special thoughts are with her. Our annual sportsman night held in October was a great night and enjoyed by those who attended. Special thanks go to Alana and the Brothers Sports Club for the venue and the food was nothing short of excellent. Our guest speaker Chris Johns, the former Dragons and Broncos player who then went on to become CEO of Melbourne Storm, was great in talking about his career in rugby league. A special thanks go to Darryl Van de Velde and welfare and education officer Mark Bunting for attending and explaining all about what we stand for. Then how good was our MC, Frank Barrett, who certainly knows how to address a crowd. From myself and my committee, thanks a million. The remaining two functions on our agenda for 2016 were the Kick off Club in late November and the Christmas party race day set down for 10 December. To each and everyone, have a safe and Happy Xmas along with celebrating the New Year. Until next year all the best, stay well and stay safe.

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CENTRAL COAST

BY DENNIS TOMSETT, PUBLICITY OFFICER

We trust that you and your families will have a Merry Christmas and on behalf of our committee members we wish you all a safe and prosperous new year and a successful 2017.

Our annual golf day at Shelly Beach Golf Course on 9 September was once again a great day and we thank the 110 people who attended the golf and luncheon. Thanks to the golf club staff for their professional assistance and to the many prize donors for making the day a success. The winners of the four-ball Ambrose were Paul Allen, John Arthur, Garry Hackett and Ron Hackett with a score of nett 55.37. A total of 47 prizes were presented for the golf. Following the morning golf, the players enjoyed a twocourse meal and the presentation proceedings were emceed by Bruce Fitzpatrick. Guest speaker Michael Buettner was thanked for making his presentation so topical as it was the week of the controversial shoulder charge decisions. Naturally there were many questions on how the decisions were made. Michael was congratulated on how well he answered these and I am sure many of the audience are a lot wiser as to what constitutes a shoulder charge. We have enjoyed a very successful year in fund raising activities and we thank our many supporters for making this possible. Events scheduled for 2017 are our bowls day in February, State Of Origin luncheon in May, race day in July, and golf day in September. Following confirmation, dates will be posted on the Foundation’s website and notification will be sent by email and SMS.

A great time was had by all at the Central Coast golf day.

FAR SOUTH COAST

BY SHELDON WYKES, SECRETARY The Far South Coast committee recently held its annual meeting at Club Sapphire in Merimbula, one of our major sponsors and long-time supporters. During the meeting, long term committee members Terry Dickson (president) and Damian Kennedy (secretary) stood down from their positions after spending six years at the helm of the committee. Both men will continue their involvement within the organisation with Terry and Damian being a very strong driving force behind our success. Their dedication and commitment has been an inspiration to fellow members and as a group we sincerely thank both these men on their outstanding service.

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Colin Clarke will take on the president’s job while long term player in Group 16, Sheldon Wykes has taken on the responsibility of secretary. With the help of both Terry and Damian members are very excited about the further development, growth and awareness of the Men of League Foundation across the Far South Coast area. This is a region that runs from Moruya in the north to Eden in the south. Our next big event will be our golf day at Eden Gardens Country Club on 8 January 2017. The event will be a four-ball Ambrose with guests for the day Stuart Raper and Parramatta legend Neville Glover. Both men have strong links with Group 16 with Stuart coaching the Eden Tigers during the 1990-91 season and winning a competition while Neville has made many trips down the coast to support rugby league throughout the group. Lots of great prizes are available with raffles and charity auctions being held while there will be many prizes for the golfers to win. We would like to emphasise that ladies are most welcome to be part of this wonderful day. Our major sponsor for this event is Con Zurcas and his organisation the Eden Motor Group who will enter their fourth year as our major sponsor and we cannot thank him enough for his continued commitment and support for our organisation.

FRASER COAST

BY TREVOR LINDBERG, PRESIDENT The inaugural charity golf day held at Hervey Bay recently proved to be a great success, with more than $4000 raised. Our thanks go to all the players who participated as well as all the willing workers who assisted and made the day a winner, at this stage a similar event will be held annually. Special thanks go to PJ Marsh and Mark Tookey who attended the day as well as Frank Barrett and Mark Bunting The Hervey Bay RSL, who sponsored the day, and the Hervey Golf Club through Gerry Taylor and staff all deserve special mention. The winning team, Cartridge World consisting of Chris Smith, Shane Bradbury and Ryan Prichard, will be back next year to defend their title. The Maryborough golf day promises to be another great day.

It is good to see our hard-working president Kev Embrey’s wife Sheron recovering from a recent medical procedure, which has meant Kevin knows how to use the vacuum cleaner and washing machine. Former president Peter Stephenson reported that the recent Maryborough Rovers RLFC reunion was well attended in Maryborough recently. Former Rovers enforcer Dennis Parmenter has finally hung up his fire hose after serving almost 40 years with the Maryborough Fire Brigade and is now living a peaceful life in Buderim. Former Maryborough Brothers legend Peter Hinds sadly lost his wife Phil recently after a lifetime together. Our thoughts are with you Peter. Plans are well under way for our sportsman’s dinner planned for Hervey Bay on 11 February next year, so keep that Saturday night free. Since this is the final report for the year before the man in the red and white uniform knocks on our door, on behalf of the Men of League Fraser Coast, I would like to wish everyone a great Christmas and a safe New Year, and as Terry Lynch from Hervey Bay would say, the Mighty Sharks can do it again!

GOLD COAST

BY GREG SYLVESTER, WELFARE OFFICER Gold Coast welfare officers have performed several visits during the past month and it is pleasing to report that former Australian hooker Ron Turner has fully recovered from a hip replacement and that June Rasmussen (Elton’s widow) is back at home after spending a week in hospital with a chest infection. Unfortunately Norma Wilson (Billy’s widow) is no longer able to drive. A special thanks to Nerang RSL who presented the Foundation with a cheque for $6000 from their football tipping competition. On hand to receive their generous donation were Greg Sylvester, Bob Honan, Greg Rousell, Brian Hodge, Ron Turner, Brett Horsnell, Dennis Ward and Neil Hunt. Special guest was former Australian international Mick Veivers. Once again a big thank you to Lloyd Evans and the boys; your generosity is greatly appreciated. A successful golf day was held in September at the Emerald Lakes Golf Course, and the weather was perfect. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the competitors and volunteers Kim Lee, Bob Honan, Greg Rousell, Brian Hodge and Dennis Ward for their time and commitment.

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We would like to thank the 1959 Australian Kangaroo side for inviting us to their annual reunion, which this year was held at the Burleigh Bears Leagues Club. What a special honour it was to observe the comradeship between these great players.

and not receiving emails about coming events, please contact me at Gympie@menofleague.com to update your details.

Preparations are well in advance for our 2017 internationals gala dinner which be held on Friday 24 February at the Burleigh Bears. There will be between 30 and 40 internationals in attendance, plus special guests. Tickets for this magnificent evening may be purchased in advance at the club. To avoid disappointment book early. The next event for the Gold Coast will be our annual bowls day held at Gold Coast Bowls and Community Club on Thursday 8 December. Bookings can be made at the club with Wayne Thompson on 07 5617 6450.

GYMPIE

BY GREG POUNTNEY, SECRETARY Our inaugural Men of League golf day was a resounding success with over 80 golfers playing. It was held at Gympie Pines course on grand final day and we were fortunate to have perfect weather. The day commenced with a sausage sizzle while the players registered and renewed old friendships. Everyone enjoyed the day with some excellent scores recorded and all players winning a prize. A Goose Club complemented our takings and we raised $2500. We are confident that the day will become more popular and we can improve on this amount. Thanks to Ashley Pearce for the hard work he did in organising such a well-run day. Thanks also to our president Ross Groundwater for the work he did in assisting Ashley. We are very fortunate to receive great support from Tom Daunt, the sports reporter at the Gympie Times who provides us with excellent publicity and coverage for our events. Our next Kick Off Club will be a quiz night in November and we’ve already had a deal of interest in this. Thanks to our Foundation staff for the support they provide so we can function effectively. If you are online 62

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Gympie golf day.

ILLAWARRA

BY BARRY HARLE, PUBLICITY OFFICER Our annual finals luncheon was held on Friday 23 September at Dapto Leagues Club. Once again it was a full capacity crowd, which enjoyed the great hospitality and service provided by the club. Andrew Farrar was once again our MC and as always did a great job. John Peard entertained us with some of his famous jokes. Our guest speakers excelled themselves and had the crowd thoroughly entertained for the afternoon. Thanks very much to 'Lord' Ted Goodwin, Terry Lamb and Eric Grothe for sharing your memories and thoughts with us; it was a very enjoyable afternoon for the sell-out crowd. Things look good for the Dragons in the future, going by the results for the Illawarra Cutters this year. They came from behind to defeat the favourites, Mounties, in the grand final of the Intrust Super Championship, a nail-biting finish at 21-20. The Cutters then went on to play the Queensland winners Burleigh Bears on grand final day, and easily won that event 54-12. It was about time NSW beat Queensland, and of course it took an Illawarra team to do it. Well done boys.


Our final Kick Off Club for the year will be our Christmas event, at Collegians Wollongong on Tuesday 6 December commencing at 4pm. Further details will be emailed to members a couple of weeks prior. A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Men of League members from the Illawarra committee.

MELBOURNE

BY PETER FOREMAN, PRESIDENT As the year draws to a close, it is pleasing to report that the Victorian committee has enjoyed another successful year. Our objectives for the year were: revenue - raise $50,000 (at the time of writing we had raised $43,000), membership - lift our registered members in Victoria to 400 (currently 358), and welfare - support those in rugby league that have fallen on hard times. In early October we welcomed our new CEO Peter Collins to Melbourne to meet with our committee and we took the opportunity to discuss the future, and also to review the key components of our 2016 business plan. It was an excellent visit and we wish Peter every success in his role as head of our Foundation. I would also like to pay tribute to our secretary Greg Brentnall who has finished up with the Melbourne Storm after spending the last 19 years in various senior leadership roles. Greg’s contribution to the Storm’s success and the growth of the game in Victoria were acknowledged at both the Storm presentation night and the Victorian Rugby League annual dinner. Thankfully, Greg and Wendy will remain in Melbourne for the next 12-18 months, so our committee will still enjoy his valuable input and guidance as secretary until their eventual move back to Wagga a little further down the track. I would also like to thank the Eastern Raptors Rugby League Club for their donation of $300. It was a pleasure to attend their end of season presentation day and view first-hand the great job that they are doing in the community. Dallas Johnson, my wife Lyn and I represented our committee at the Victorian Rugby League annual dinner. Dallas wore two hats in his role as an NRL ambassador as well as a member of our committee.

Thanks to Brent Silva (general manager of Victorian Rugby League) for inviting us to be present on the night and also for playing the Men of League video. We are very hopeful of seeing a spike in membership following the opportunity to talk to members of the affiliated clubs that were present. As always I would like to thank the Aces Sporting Club in helping us to assist the men, women and children of the rugby league community with particular thanks going to Bruce Mathieson Jr and Ross Blair-Holt for their long-term support. As we begin to plan ahead for next year I can confirm two dates for 2017: Thursday 9 February is our annual golf day at Keysborough Golf Club starting at 11.30am and on Friday 10 March our AGM will be held at the AAMI Park coffee shop at 8.30am. I am glad to report that one of our founding committee members Michael McDonald is recovering well following a couple of recent heart scares and hospitalisations. Mick is still very close to our team and we look forward to catching up with him at our end of season get together. We are also continuing to visit Alan Catlin the former patron on the Victorian Referees Association who is in a care facility fighting Parkinson’s disease. On behalf of our committee I would like to wish everyone within the Men of League family a safe and happy Christmas and a great 2017.

MID NORTH COAST

BY MARSHALL LOADSMAN, MEDIA OFFICER Our entire committee was delighted to be informed of the induction of our patron Harry Wells into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame. The ceremony held in mid-November was a fitting tribute to not only one of the true greats of our game but a testament to the high regard Harry is held within sport and the general community. Meanwhile, Harry was a participant in our recent bowls challenge at the Taree Leagues and Sports Club. Members of the club and the local sporting community enthusiastically embraced the day which also included a lovely tribute for the late ‘Chesty’ Mitchell, a former journeyman footballer and bowler at our host club. Stuart Raper represented head office, John Peard was once again our headline act, John ‘Snoozer’ Elford

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and Ian Martin travelled down from further up the coast while John Sullivan was our chief auctioneer. We thank you all along with Dave Penman, bowls co-ordinator from the leagues and sports club.

Penrith player and coach. Bob is well respected by former players which was reflected by the attendance from Penrith and St Marys representatives. Host was former Tiger Neil Pringle.

An all-star luncheon for a local Wauchope family was scheduled for Saturday 26 November at Wauchope RSL, held in conjunction with the Wauchope Old Boys it all but ensured a sell-out crowd. St George and Parramatta premiership winning captain Steve Edge was guest speaker and alongside Noel Kelly and Johnny King who were as presenters for the day.

His interviews and insight by Phil Gould and John Cartwright brought smiles to Bob’s face and to the delight of his family. Thank you to the club and Pat Boderick, also a former Panther first grader.

As this will be the final magazine for 2016 we wish all members of the Foundation a wonderful festive season and a successful and enjoyable 2017.

Sawtell Bowling Club again provided the venue for our annual barefoot bowls day which was attended by Sawtell Old Boys. It was a great day on Sunday in the sun with surprising playing skills. Thank you to the club and manager James Gallon, treasure Ivan Wheeler, his wife and sister who walked the town to gain sponsors who provided the prizes. Our biggest event is on 9 December at the Coffs Harbour Hotel for our breakfast at 9am followed by great guest speakers and hosted by Neil Pringle. The postponed Coffs Cup will follow and buses provided to the course. If you want to make it a day earlier, you can join Paul Nobby Clarke and play golf at Bonville. Breakfast tickets must be pre-purchased

by contacting the hotel or myself on 0414 227 068 or by email barrettcoote@gmail.com

Harry Wells enjoying the day. Photo courtesy of Manning River Times.

NORTH COAST

BY PETER BARRETT, PRESIDENT Another year is coming to an end and our welfare visits have been busy and we were saddened by the passing of our patron George Alaban and foundation member Phil Jefferies. Grafton Rebels went back to back winning the Group 2 competition after losing 10 first grade players from the previous year and looked like not forming but the locals got behind them and amazingly won both first and reserve grade, wiping out rivals Grafton Ghosts. A great event was held for Bob Boland at Nambucca Leagues Club as a tribute to the former Balmain and 64

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Sawtell bowls day.

NORTH WEST

BY KEVIN ROBINSON, SECRETARY "Getting to know you" (just like the song from The King and I) could have been the theme for our dinner held on 29 October such was the buzz within the conference centre at the South Tamworth Bowling Club.


The venue was large enough to hold 100 without being confined and we had a full house, with 19 women in attendance. The evening began with a welcome and informing the guests on how Men of League was formed. A buffet carvery dinner was served, drinks were on tap at club prices and the night started to warm up. Our guest entertainer Murray Hartin held the audience in the palm of his hand with the way he rattled off his bush poems. A few spins of our mystery wheel and winners were walking away with money in their pockets. Sweets were then served before Murray came back on for another segment and if anything, was funnier than the first. The North West volunteer for 2016 was announced with nominations Tony Woodham, (Moree) Trevor Hatch (Manilla) and Peter Lonergan(Narrabri) with Trevor Hatch being voted for 2016.

a St George supporter, won the raffle. All in all, it was a very successful and well organised day.

NORTHERN SYDNEY

BY TREVOR BAILEY, PRESIDENT It’s been a busy quarter for our committee both in fund raising and welfare activity. In September we had our annual sports lunch. This year, because of the devastating storms we had to transfer from our great supporters in the Collaroy Beach Club to the Collaroy Surf Club. With wonderful help from both clubs, it resulted in a terrific day. My sincere thanks go to our master of ceremonies John Gibbs and special guests Terry Randall, Russel Gartner, Paul ‘Nobby’ Clark, Jake and Tom Trbojevic.

All committees were congratulated on the great work they carry out on behalf of the Foundation. In closing, Robbo thanked everyone for their support of the night, we then adjourned to the main bar and a good night was had by all.

We also had two highly successful Men of League plaque presentation evenings held by the North Sydney and Manly Warringah junior leagues, whereby we present a plaque to a person nominated by each junior club in recognition for their work at grass roots level. It’s these people who are the glue that hold our game together.

On behalf of all the North West sub-committees I would like to thank those who supported us with our fundraisers and wish all the members and their families a happy and safe Christmas and don't be frightened to show how much you love them, peace to all.

Each year Ken Vessey jumps in his bus to pick up a group of ex-Norths players including John Gray, Mark Harris and John ‘Chow’ Hayes for the Bears' Intrust match at North Sydney Oval hosted by Greg Florimo. They all had a great day.

NORTHERN RIVERS

On the welfare front, our guys have been non-stop with activities like visiting former Manly players Nick Yakic, Bernie Seymour and Adrian Astorquia. They visited Royal Rehab many times, including attending the ceremony to induct new members to the Wall of Fame for patients with brain injuries.

BY GARRY ENSBEY, PUBLICITY OFFICER Our annual charity golf day was held at Ballina Golf and Sports Club recently with over 100 players participating in the four-ball Ambrose event and all wearing their NRL club colours. In his speech, Bob Abbott OAM was thrilled to mention the fabulous victory by the Cronulla Sharks in the 2016 NRL premiership series. The winning golf team was made up of local players, Mark and Sue Stenning (wearing North Sydney Bears colours) and Doug and Sue Boardman (wearing Manly Sea Eagles colours). President Phil Chesham thanked all sponsors on the day for their generous and welcomed support. He and Bob then presented the awards for the best 10 finishing teams. Former Balmain player Michael Ross kept a very neat and accurate scoreboard for the day while Brad Myers,

I would like to welcome Greg Grace to our committee, his compassionate nature is a great asset. In closing, my thanks go to Joe Rinaldi from Brookvale Mazda for their support throughout the year. Without their support we cannot help the likes of the Sargood Centre of Collaroy, which is a state of the art rehab centre for spinal injuries. Peter Collins, Neil Whittaker and myself were fortunate enough to be guests of Rod McQueen and Greg Milson (directors of Sargood) to undertake a guided tour of this magnificent facility, the likes of which we haven’t seen in this country. From all our committee members to you and your families, we wish you very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe 2017.

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RIVERINA

ROMA

The Riverina committee recently conducted our annual Caulfield Cup fundraiser at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club in conjunction with the Group 9 Weissel Medal best and fairest count.

We held our gala golf day on 8 October. Our Friday night meet and greet was well attended with former Australian player Danny Moore, former Titans player and Australian Schoolboy Ben Ridge, ex-Rabbitohs hitman Charlie Frith and Wallabies legend Glen Ella and Peter Rafter from the QRL all present.

BY IAN LLOYD, SECRETARY

This year the event was a special cause for the Webster family. Craig, who unfortunately passed away recently at only 36 and who was a former player and referee in the Riverina, left behind a wife and five children. Proceeds from the day plus funds from Men of League should see us raise in the vicinity of $8000. Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach was the special guest and we thank Blocker for his wonderful contribution to the day. The fundraiser was a team effort as Dave Skinner from the Bidgee Region, the three Wagga clubs, (Bulls, Brothers and Roos) plus Group 9 all contributed to the race day program. We also thank our other sponsors Austwide Homes, Daniel Woods Funeral Care and the William Farrer Hotel. Hard-working member Dossie Carr had organised a bowls day up in his home town of Tumut on Saturday 5 November. By the time the magazine goes to press the day will be done and dusted and we are hoping for a huge turnout. We were saddened by the recent loss of member Ross ‘Rosco’ Graham, a past Turvey Park RLFC life member and ex-South City Bulls president and major supporter of the code of rugby league. Our condolences go out to his wife Elsie and family.

Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach presenting the Group 9 Men of League Cup to the winning jockey and connections.

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

BY OWEN LINGARD, PRESIDENT

Frank Barrett gave an overview on the process and goals of Men of League and Saturday morning interviews were conducted with Moore and Ridge. They gave some very interesting advice about players striving to play in the NRL. Darren Jones, son of former vice president Brian Jones, travelled all the way from Sydney to attend the golf day. Darren has just been awarded a life membership of the Sydney City Roosters and donated a 2016 signed jersey for the auction. Emilee Cherry, 2016 Olympic gold medallist in rugby sevens, donated a signed and framed jersey of the team. This item raised $3000. Funds raised from auction items and the multi draw were well above expectations. Men of League member Barry Hughes did a very professional job as auctioneer. A big thank you to all of our donors. This event would not have been such a huge success without the help of the Roma Golf Club and Men of League committee. This is now to become an annual event. Our next event is the Terry Charles Memorial Rugby League day in April 2017 at Taroom.

Danny Moore (left) and Charlie Frith at the Roma golf day.


Sterling and Phil Gould, and the often entertaining yet unpredictable moments working alongside likeable rogues Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns.

SOUTHERN SYDNEY

BY BRUCE THOMPSON, SECRETARY There was clearly plenty to celebrate amongst the members of the Southern Sydney committee with the Sharks delivering their first premiership since their inclusion in the league 50 seasons earlier. Committee members Terry Hughes (president), Brian Cox (treasurer), Dennis Stapleton (all round hard worker) and Maurie Raper have all worn the Sharks jersey and are still walking around with that premiership winning grin. In other news, treasurer Bruce Thompson bought a Kangaroos experience in the charity auction at the Men of League gala dinner that saw him and colleague Mick Power, of BMD and sponsor of Men of League welfare in Queensland, travel to Perth for the Test match. They were also lucky enough to spend some up close and personal time with Mal Meninga and the Australian Kangaroo team, who were very generous and accommodating. Our last event for the year was our Kick Off Club meeting at JD’s in Cronulla where Stuart Clark, chief operating officer of the NSWRL and former great Australian fast bowler, answered questions from MC Stuart Raper and took questions from the crowd on subjects ranging from issues with NSWRL and what’s what in Australian Cricket. Best wishes to all our members for safe and happy Christmas period. Hope to see you all in 2017.

SUNSHINE COAST

BY TONY DURKIN, PUBLICITY OFFICER Wide World of Sports shining on-air NRL star Yvonne Sampson returned ‘home’ and enthralled more than 100 members and guests at the October Kick-Off Club on the Sunshine Coast. Raised and educated on the Sunshine Coast where she started her television career, Yvonne spoke openly about her upbringing, her career in journalism and her recent life in the glare surrounding her status as a media celebrity. On stage for almost an hour, she told of her admiration for fellow Nine commentators Wally Lewis, Peter

But she was adamant she did not see herself as a pioneer for women involved in sports broadcasting, particularly rugby league. “Girls like Debbie Spillane and the late Rebecca Wilson broke the mould long before I came along,” she said. In 2016 Yvonne was the first woman to front a State of Origin telecast, watched by more than four million viewers nationally. Her visit of topped off a panel of high-profile guests attending the Sunshine Coast Kick-Off Club events at Mooloolaba Surf Club during 2016. The others were rookie Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters, Broncos CEO Paul White and former Olympian Raelene Boyle. An array of NRL stars, including new Broncos signing Benji Marshall, teed up in the capacity field of 144 in the annual Sunshine Coast golf day at Twin Waters on Remembrance Day, 11 November. The field also featured Allan Langer, Ben Ikin, Michael O’Connor, Jack Reed and Craig Polla Mounter, former top referees Tim Mander, Bernie Pramberg and Ian Smith, while ex-players from bygone days included Bob Hagan, David Wright, Ian Dauth, Bob Cox, Tim Dwyer, Darren Burns and Alan Power had a hit. New Broncos signing Benji Marshall may have been the star attraction but former Test hooker Kerrod Walters starred. Walters spearheaded the Rivershore Resort team of Will McGovern, Sam Dolan and Tom Palmer to the narrowest of wins, beating Steve Jameson, Tom Jameson, Peter Ulqo and Jeremy Zahl on a countback (both teams scored 50 and 5/8ths). Third was the team of Dean Elwood, Michael Coulson, Ryan Stack and Bevan Young, while for the eighth successive year the team of Paul Hart, Chris Hart, Eli Scott. Men of League’s Captain’s Captain, Darren Lockyer, will be guest speaker at our eighth annual Christmas luncheon at Mooloolaba Surf Club on 8 December. He will be joined by renowned poet and sports nut Rupert McCall. It is again a sell-out with 220 attending. Mooloolaba Surf Club, Lion (XXXX) and Vintage House Wines are again sponsoring the luncheon.

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SYDNEY METRO

TOOWOOMBA

As our sixth year of existence draws to a close, it is worthwhile reflecting on our achievements and history. The committee was born on Monday 27 September 2010 at the Evening Star Hotel, Surry Hills, to represent the grassroots clubs such as Souths, Balmain, Easts, Newtown, Wests and Norths. The then Men of League vice president Jim Hall addressed the gathering explaining how the Men of League Foundation had been set up eight years ago in 2002.

The Toowoomba region committee had a very busy Men of League Round in July. On the Friday the committee organised a luncheon at the Clive Berghofer Stadium which was held in the John ‘Cracker’ McDonald function room. The room has a panoramic view overlooking the home ground of rugby league in the Darling Downs – an ideal venue for a rugby league function.

BY BRAD RYDER, MEDIA OFFICER

Nominations were called for positions and the following were named as our office bearers: patrons Bob McCarthy, Graeme Langlands and Johnny Lewis, president Henry Morris, vice-presidents John Chalk and Peter Moscatt, treasurer Terry Murphy, secretary Seamus O’Connell and media officer Brad Ryder. We have two main functions per year, mainly at South Juniors, but the very first one was at Easts Leagues Club, Bondi Junction on Friday 4 February 2011, when we had a tribute to Keith Barnes (Balmain), Frank Farrington (Newtown), George Daldry and Jack Giddy (Easts trainer). The day was also in honour of the memory of South Sydney stalwarts Joe Maloney and Clem Kennedy. The second one that year was at Souths Juniors, with a State of Origin rivalry theme, which saw Tom Raudonikis and Ben Elias (both NSW) telling stories to MC Daryl Brohman (Queensland). Tommy’s words were particularly colourful. To date, we have raised around $250,000 for the Foundation, largely due to the tireless efforts of the committee. Special mention and thanks should be given to our welfare officers Alan Webb, Fred Jackson, Warren Thompson and Ken Vessey (who is on the Northern Sydney committee). We wish to thank the following men for their attendance and input at committee meetings: Peter Grounds, John Greaves, Mick Campbell, Ron Pomering, Wayne Peterson, Peter Keenan, Scott Bennett, Michael Marketo and Wally Dean. A big thank you to Souths Juniors’ chairman Keith McCraw for allowing us to hold these memorable luncheons at The Juniors Club, Tulla Group’s Kevin Maloney and Churchill’s Sports Bar at Kingsford, for generous on going sponsorship. Thanks also to Stuart Raper and Ben Ross for attending some committee meetings and for their ongoing support. 68

MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

BY RICK LAING, SECRETARY

Our special guests for the day were our committee patron John McDonald and our guest speaker Tom Raudonikis. Tommy entertained the crowd with wonderful stories about his era and of course about his great mate Arthur Beetson. It was quite poignant that we had the Queensland coach and the NSW captain from the first State of Origin game in 1980 at the lunch. With over 130 guests it was a very enjoyable day. Geoff McDonald, son of ‘Cracker’, was an excellent and amusing MC and was well supported by Justin Karcher who was our auctioneer. President Andrew O’Brien gave a great insight to the guests on the role of Men of League and the work the committee does. It was a successful fundraiser which raised over $9000 from ticket sales, raffles and auctions. The committee was very grateful of local businesses including MinStaff Survey, Hutchinson Builders, LKA Staffing Solutions, Century 21, Treasury Estate Wines, QPF Finance, R&D Accounting, Brown Steel, Alpine Refrigeration and the O’Brien Group for their support. A highlight of the day was Shane Brunner attending after his long health battle. It was his first venture out in public and he won the hearts of all with his courage and positive attitude. Tommy and many guests made a fuss of him and he went home a very happy man. On Saturday and Sunday a number of committee members attended the senior and junior rugby league games at Gatton, Clifton, Highfields and Oakey for the bucket collection and $1300 was raised due to the generosity of supporters.

Guests enjoying the Toowoomba luncheon.


TOWNSVILLE

TUGGERAH

On 3 September, 1300 Smiles Stadium welcomed some major players when Cowboys played the Titans and the LGIAsuper Community Hub hosted Men of League Townsville.

With a Kick Off Club and golf day in the last month it has been a busy time for Men of League Tuggerah Lakes.

BARRY BUCHANAN, PUBLICITY OFFICER

BY GREG TUNN, PUBLICITY OFFICER

Our new Men of League marquee was put to good use, housing our committee who handed out promotional material and encouraged fans to become members. Matty Bowen dropped in to lend his support and attract the passers-by. The final event of the year was held on 21 October, being the AGM to set up for 2017 followed by a Kick Off Club. It was great that all positions remained the same and some extra committee members put up their hands. Our guest speaker was Queensland welfare and education officer Mark Bunting who gave members a rundown on how the welfare system works especially the need to follow the rules as a charitable organisation and he answered many questions about what the future holds. Mark was impressed with the number of women involved, especially on the committee. The evening, sponsored by the Lillywhite Group and Lion, was hosted by Arthur McMahon at the Riverview Tavern. We thanked Arthur by letting him win the raffle, a painting of Cowboys Kyle Feldt donated by Cairns artist Charlie Larkin. Keep on caring for our rugby league community.

On grand final eve 35 members and friends gathered at the Norah Head Sports Club to share their thoughts on the game and attempt to answer some very trivial questions on past premierships. Thanks to the club president Warren Bilbow for hosting the evening and to Gary Johnston, managing director of Jaycar, for his generous $500 donation on the night. Our annual golf day was held on October 21 with 72 players hitting off at Wyong Golf Club. Thanks to the golf club who presented the course in magnificent condition and for providing an excellent meal after the game. Special guests on the day were Mark O’Meley and Neville Glover, who organised the raffle and auction prizes. Thanks also to the many sponsors who supported the day. Sadly, we have lost two members in recent months, Bill Jones and Ken Moir. Both have been very supportive of Men of League and will be greatly missed. Best wishes to all Men of League members throughout the country for Christmas and the festive season, and for their endeavours in 2017.

WESTERN SYDNEY

BY GARRY O’DONNELL AND LES CLARK Our big event in the last quarter was our bowls day at Club Merrylands, this was our first bowls day and about 100 people turned up. A great day was had by all and special thanks to club chairman Ray Gillard and his staff for making us feel so welcome. The club was so supportive in helping us make the day a great fundraiser. We will be back in early March for our second bowls day.

Mark Bunting with Helen Sugars, Natalie Turner and Dena Arthy.

On behalf of our committee we would like to thank our sponsors for the great help they have given us in 2016, without them it would be tough to survive. Thanks to Simplicity Funerals, The Coolibah Hotel, Goldcrest Security, Peter Wynn Sport and our friends that turn up to every event, we thank you. Merry Christmas to all Men of League committee's and family plus our great office staff. HELPING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE COMMUNITY

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Men of League would like to thank our gold and corporate members for their continued assistance in enabling us to support the men, women and children of the rugby league community.

GOLD MEMBERS Neil Robert Armstrong Deborah Ayshford Don Bailey John Bell Ron Bercene Christopher Books Tom Bowden Jeff Bristow Clive Bryant Adrian Bubb Dr Simon Buckingham Peter Burnitt Brian Burns Daryl John Campbell Ferdinando Campisi Richard Campling Richard Carr Alan Christensen Andrew Coates David Cohen John Colby Steve Collins David Collins Bruce Cowan Michael Crompton Rodney Crosthwaite Michael Deane Terry Dodd Tim Donahoo Frank Drake Chris Drayton Stephen Duclos Daniel Dwyer Brian East Chris Edwards Peter Egan Craig Elliott

Luke Ellis John Fahey Jude Findlay John Fisher Charles Fitzgerald Warren Fletcher Colin Foran Darryl Foster Peter French Brett Gallagher John Georges Ben Giblett Glenn Gillroy Gregory Glover Paul Goodsell Matt Goodwin Glenn Gorick Troy Wayne Grant Ray Groves Andrew Hamblin Geoff Hamilton Brett Hansen Denis Hayes Norm Hazzard Levi Hegarty Darrell Hinga Richard Holder Mark Holmes Ron Hopkins Shane Horan Bradley Howell Ian Ingle Darryl James John Jeffries Mitchell Joyce Chris Jurd Lynn Kearney

CORPORATE MEMBERS

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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Richard Keats Andrew Kippen Rick Laing Tom Larkin Dean Lavery Lance Law Peter Charles Leitch Gary Leonard Mark Letchford Geoffrey Logue Brian Love Aaron Lucas Rick Lyddiard Garry Macdougall Wayne Madden Greg Maher Geoff Mann Scott Markham Jason Markwell Michael Martin Ernest Martin Leigh Martin Sam Mayer Bill McAnally Peter McCauley Tina McClintock Charles McGee Ted Mckay David McLeod Peter McLuckie Paul Medd Wayne Medlyn Ken Mildwater Gerry Mohan Daniel Molesworth Kerry Moore Trevor Murphy

James Myatt Dale Naumann Kevin Neal Joey Neukam Michael Nevin Shane Nichols Aaron Nicoll Nick Noonan Stephen Norrish Stewart O'Connor Martin O'Rourke Ross Parker Terry Parker Leo Paternoster Mark Pauling Mark Payne John Peard Kevin Perkins Pat Purcell Yvonne Purtell John Quayle Martin Raftery Michael Rasmussen Kieran Reekie John Renshaw Craig Rigby Joe Rissman Chris Robinson Rod Salan David Samuelsson Rodney Schoupp Constantine Serban Michael Sharp Hudson Smith Gary Smith Ish Smith Rod Smith

Howard Smith Richard Somers Rod Somerville Brian Sommerville Edward Sorensen Allen Spencer Bruce Starkey Michael Stephens Darren Stevens Luke Stewart Anthony Sullivan Erin Sullivan Alan Sullivan Peter Sullivan David Tatler John Tavener Peter Taylor David Thomas Terry Thompson Rodney Thompson Noel Towler Brien Tracey Peter John Turner Neil Vea vea Stephen Want Peter Ward Cheng Wei Lin Neil Welsh Garry White Rob Williams Steve Williams Michael Williams Kevin Wilson Helen Wright Gregory Wright Steve Wylde Tony Yates Allan Zreik


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MEN OF LEAGUE DECEMBER 2016

Men of League - Issue 65  
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