Above: The 1972 gentlemen of Mittagong. BACK: Paul Munro, Tom Orford, Jim Allen, Chris Bartlett, Frank Van Haeff, Vic Isedale. MIDDLE: Ken Hansen, Chris Millbank, Terry O’Toole, Merv Wortz, Garry Roberts, Ian Jones, Jim Manning. FRONT: Grahame Andrews, John Collins, Bill Campbell, Geoff Goodfellow, Ray Crothers, Guy Roberts, Ross Isedale.Photo by Studio KinomaI DIDN’T write that headline. The words were penned by the editor of the Daily Mirror in 1972 following the return of the Mittagong Rugby League side from a tour of New Zealand.
The Sydney newspaper story was prompted by a letter to Cooks Tours, who had organised things for this Mittagong side to play a couple of games across the ditch. The hotel used by the team in Christchurch had sent the bill to Cooks with a handwritten note saying, “the members conducted themselves as gentlemen. We enjoyed having them stay with us.”
Cooks must have been so surprised they passed the note on to the Daily Mirror.
The story probably made the Sydney tabloids because sporting teams at the time had earned a dreadful reputation for trashing hotels and behaving badly on end of season trips, or overseas tours. But not these gentlemen of Mittagong, who collected glowing testimonials wherever they went.
Like the Christchurch hotel, which congratulated the boys on, “first class manners and behaviour,” saying, “this team is a credit to Australian rugby league.”
Up in Rotorua, the hotel manager wrote; “the behaviour of the team, without exception, was perfect.”
The Linwood club said the team was exemplary, while the Central club in Rotorua congratulated the Australian Rugby League on sending such a good bunch of ambassadors.
Golly gosh, what can a man say.
Were those the same lads in this photograph?
Course they were. What gentlemen.
Actually I bumped one of those gentlemen last Saturday, when out watching the Robertson Spuddies playing a home game.
I hadn’t been to Robertson for a while. Did you know they have traffic lights in Caalong Street these days? What is the old village coming to when you have to stop at a red light on your way up the hill to the showground on a quiet winter’s Saturday afternoon in Robbo.
Anyhoo, that gentleman of Mittagong I bumped into was Grahame Andrews, a bloke who has put so much back into sport since the days he ran around the hockey and football paddocks.
Grahame has been president of group six rugby league since 2008, but before that he was a successful coach and a committed sporting administrator, running touch footy, a hockey club and much more.
Congratulations on your contribution to Highlands sport mate. Your dedication has been epic.
And while talking about good manners and gentlemen, I was delighted to see Narellan and the Spuddies run to the centre of the field and shake hands before the kick-off.
Took me back to a time when all teams did this before a sporting match began. Such a nice touch and a reminder that sport is all about having a bit of fun, not hating your opponent.
Sure, they got into it after the friendly greeting with a bit of sweat, blood and grunt, but when the final whistle went they all shook hands again and wandered off for a cool drink.
That is how sport should be played.
So good to see.
FINALLY, I must tell you a lovely story from the snowfall the other week.
I have a mate lives up on Mount Gibraltar, who tells me some yobbo in a 4WD drove rather recklessly up Oxley Drive, churning the sides of the road, but also delighting in knocking over snowmen built by the kids up there.
Then he spotted a bigger snowman and went for that too. Turned out to be a 5 tonne boulder covered in snow.
Who said there isn’t a God?
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