St George Rugby League club life-members Majella Morris, John Barrett, John Robertson, Sue Kings, Keith Codrington, Mark Morris, Kelvin Bella, Greg Morris (coach) and Scott Wilson (representing his late father, Howard). Source: News Corp Australia

 

THEY get a new set of jerseys every two years and occasionally a winning bonus of $35.

The red and white jerseys of St George RLFC traditionally feature a big red vee. But this club is not the Dragons.

They are the reigning Queensland Rugby League-XXXX club of the year and St George is raring to go in 2014.

“The footy club is a big thing in our town and being awarded club of the year was significant for the local community,’’ said long-serving secretary Majella Morris.

Majella was a young primary school teacher in 1979 when posted to the township on the Balonne River, 390km west of Brisbane.

“The secretary of the football club had just resigned and I somehow got the job,’’ she said.

She married a local player, Greg, who subsequently became club president for a time and is the current A grade coach. Her father-in — law and brother-in-law are life members of the club and Greg’s late grandfather, Tom, was a founding committee man in 1919.

That’s what happens around country footy clubs.

St George had a big year on and off the field in 2013 when they contested three grand finals in the Roma and District Rugby League.

The A grade went into the premiership decider having lost only one game all season but lost the big one. The Reserves were also beaten, but St George’s crack Under 18 side went through undefeated.

Significantly, it was the club’s culture and commitment to community that ultimately won the Club of the Year award.

St George is made up of players and coaches from a range of multi-cultural backgrounds and assists special causes such as men’s and women’s cancer, disadvantaged families and local schools.

The club comes down hard on any act of violence and promotes a strong code of conduct to players and supporters.

“We’ve been going 95 years and have a very strong supporter group,’’ said president Mark Pain, a stock and station agent. “We are proudly multi-cultural and want to keep our youth engaged and involved.

“It is vital for young people to have things to do and a purpose in rural areas.’’

Stalwarts “Meggs” Morris and Bill Pechey have hardly missed a home game in almost 50 years. Former players and life-members, they’ve sat alongside each other for the past 30 years as PA announcer and timekeeper.

Another life-member, John Barrett, awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to the game, had just returned from fishing the parched Balonne for yellow belly when we caught up with him.

He remembers when former Australian skipper Brian Davies was captain-coach of St George in the early 1960s.

“He got us to the grand-final, but we lost,’’ he recalled.

“There was another import, Jack Olive from North Sydney, in the ‘50s who was a great player and a legend in the area.’’

A fine administrator who served as a director of the QRL and Australian Rugby League, Barrett is already working on St George’s 100-year reunion and celebrations in 2019.

They don’t mind a reunion in the bush ... this year premiership teams between 1960 and 1986 will be honoured during a shindig from July 25-27. Anyone with an involvement with the club is welcome.

Read the rest of the Courier Mail article here