Tributes are flowing for one of the most influential and respected figures in outback rugby league, Winton stalwart Graham “Butch” Lenton, who passed away on Sunday aged 61.
Such was his devotion to the game and his community, Lenton leaves a remarkable legacy that is unrivalled in country rugby league circles.
Only a few could successfully hold key positions in politics and rugby league administration.
But the man affectionally known as Butch did it brilliantly, so much so that his sad passing was acknowledged by the state’s highest office yesterday.
“Winton could not have had a more dedicated or passionate representative,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“My Government and I worked with the Mayor and his Council on a range of issues, including road upgrades, outback tourism, housing, drought and natural disaster assistance, wild dog management and rebuilding the iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre after it was destroyed by fire in 2015.”
A Life Member of the Central West Rugby League and QRL Central Division, Lenton has served the game for the best part of four decades in numerous roles.
While fiercely passionate about his home town team, the Winton Shire Council Mayor of the past four years was always eager to see the game flourish right across the region.
He had two stints as the President of the Central West Rugby League, the first which commenced in 1990.
Lenton and his wife Ros worked hard behind the scenes to get Winton on the paddock in 2017, and the club duly responded with a fitting 32-16 grand final win over Ilfracombe.
Dave Kerrigan, the man who succeeded Lenton as the President of the CWRL three years ago, said Butch and Ros were “special people”.
During his time in the game, Lenton did everything from driving the bus to League Safe and first aid.
However, as Kerrigan puts it, “footy was one thing” – and his contribution to the wider community was immense as well.
He was instrumental in the significant improvements made to the Winton Showgrounds (which this year hosted an Intrust Super Cup Country Week game), and he was also involved in many community organisations such as the Waltzing Matilda Centre, the Truck Museum and the Fire Brigade.
He was never one to seek praise for his work.
“Butch was one of those fellows who didn’t have wraps on himself,” QRL Central Division Chairman Danny McGuire said.
“He welcomed everybody as equals and through his fight with cancer he never once complained. He leaves a legacy that few could ever dream of accomplishing.”
Long-time Central West supporter Nadia Hoad echoed those sentiments in her Facebook tribute.
“Butch has given so much to Central West Rugby League in his lifetime and has always been thoughtful of others,” Hoad wrote.
“He has supported all the towns and teams, not only Winton. All of the extended rugby league community thought the world of Butch.
“He will always be remembered fondly and with so much respect from all walks of life.”
· Butch Lenton’s Funeral Service will be held at the Winton Shire Hall from 10am on Monday, October 9.
(Rugby league achievements)
- Winton President 1982 – 90
- Winton President 1996 – 2011
- Central West President 1990 – 92
- Central West President 2011 – 13
- Central West Life Member
- Central Division Life Member