Vale Neville 'The Hornet' Hornery

Vale Neville 'The Hornet' Hornery

The rugby league world is mourning former Wynnum Manly and Queensland country forward Neville 'The Hornet' Hornery.

Renowned for his ferocious style and competitiveness, Hornery died in Cairns after being assisted in his later years by The Men of League Foundation.

He debuted in the former New South Wales Rugby League in 1968 with Western Suburbs, before later playing first grade with Canterbury Bankstown and then five seasons with Wynnum Manly.

Hornery was named in a team titled the 'Hard Men and Mad Men of the 1960s and 1970s' by Wests Magpies Past Players Association and was the subject of many fabled tales.

Among his career highlights were a representative match for Brisbane versus England in 1975 and a match for Wests against France in 1968.

He wound down his career playing with a number of regional clubs, including Booval Swifts, which he led to the 1977 Ipswich premiership.

Former Swifts administrator Ken Boettcher once described Hornery as "a wild man, but a bloody good player".

In a previous article for the Queensland Times, current NRL.com journalist Joel Gould covered his career in depth:

 

A report in a Sydney newspaper on Hornery's premiership debut for the Magpies records his powerhouse ways.
The report said "wearing a grin as wide as the goalposts Western Suburbs 'rookie' second-rower Nev Hornery trotted off Cumberland Oval and embraced coach Noel Kelly".
"You bloody beauty. We got the double up too," Hornery yelled as the Wests fans rose to applaud.
Hornery was referring to the fact that he and Kelly had made a mint from their winning doubles ticket on the day.
The colourful report goes on to say that Hornery "lowered the boom on Eels internationals Dick Thornett and Ron Lynch...Hornery showed the fire and brimstone Kelly built his reputation on as he ripped the Parramatta pack apart in a memorable first grade premiership debut".
"Neville Hornery was a brilliant player and a bit of a rogue," Kelly grins, when contacted by the QT.
"And the rogue part of him took over sometimes when it shouldn't.
"If he'd kept out of a bit of trouble there is no telling what he could have done.
"He was a good soccer player and a good everything...as tough as teak and a hell of a player I can tell you."
Kelly was the captain-coach on the day of his Magpies debut.
"That was his style. He'd just get out there and get into it. He'd dish it out and carry the ball at you all day.
"He had a good sidestep and he was quick, and a larrikin."
The 'larrikin' is what he is famous for, and the fact he'd never take a backward step.
"One of the best stories is when we were playing Easts one day and the opposition hooker had upset him," Kelly grins.
"I was hooker that day and everything was going along quiet when he let about 10 blows go (in a scrum).
"TV had just started and he let rip with these uppercuts and nine of them hit me in the bum.
"I don't think he landed one on the other guy, but he was sent off.
"From the sideline it would have looked horrendous.
"The papers got onto it and talkback radio was on about it.
"We played the French one night and he ironed a couple out.
"He was as tough as any player going around.
"I loved Neville but he was as mad as a hatter.
"Years after he'd retired I'd get these calls in the middle of the night and he'd go 'hey, it's me'.
"I'd say 'what are you doing? Where are you? ' and he'd go 'I'm in Cairns'.
"I'd think 'hello, someone is chasing him again'. He'd get a few beers into him, feel lonesome and ring home."
Kelly says Hornery was a man you always wanted by your side, and he often was as this anecdote about a Cronullla opponent who wanted to mess with Kelly after a Wests match reveals.
"This bloke was going to bash me up and word got to us that when we got out of the (dressing) rooms this bloke would be waiting for me," Kelly recalls.
"I said 'well we may as well fix it up now'.
"I walked out and when I turned around there was Neville a foot behind me.
"I sent him back because he would have made things worse.
"But if you had him in the trenches with you you wouldn't have much to worry about."
Keiron Butler, a former Goodna halfback, once trained a greyhound for Hornery. He insists the greatness of the man as a footballer should never be forgotten.
"I was there the night that Brisbane played the Poms and Hornery took them all on, Cliffy Watson...the lot," Butler says.
"The Poms came off the field and said 'who was that".
"We tried to bring him to Goodna three years later to sign him, but because we didn't he cleaned the Weeroona (Hotel) up.
"He came to Ipswich and played for Swifts, and this day against Brothers he was quiet in the first half. "I'd backed Swifts. "But by the end of the second half they'd carried four players off and Swifts had won the game...because Hornery went bang, bang, bang, bang.
"Trevor Gillmeister reminds me of him, just because of his toughness. But Trevor Gillmeister is not mad.
"But watching Neville Hornery in the Ipswich comp was an absolute pleasure because he only took players on he thought needed taking on, and he showed them who was the toughest
"I remember Swifts were playing Goodna and he hit me that hard my ear was ringing like the lunch time bell. I can still hear that bell ringing. I have never been hit as hard in my life. He was toughest man I ever played against and one of the greats."