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Wests Old Boys have always celebrated the greats who have worn the 'mud and blood' jersey, but now are looking to take a greater role fostering that famous spirit in the community.

A large crew of players, volunteers and supporters will come together for a 30-year reunion at the Caxton Hotel - particularly honouring the hugely successful 1991-1994 era.

While that represents a hugely successful on-field time in the club's history, the job is not done as the renowned colours live on, albeit in a different capacity.

Wests Old Boys secretary Nigel Cox said the group recognised 'connection' as an overarching theme they could work towards - among former teammates, with the community and clubs under the Wests banner, and to the past.

This year Cox, who was involved with the Wests Juniors Open Division 2 team this year, educated the team on the Panthers' wartime history, particularly the story of Gunner William 'Bill' Malin, and helped drive the club's ANZAC Day commemorations.

Gunner William Morgan Malin. Photo: Australian War Memorial
Gunner William Morgan Malin. Photo: Australian War Memorial

Malin, a skilful front rower and goalkicker when he enlisted in 1940, was posted to the 2/10th Field Regiment and then sent to Borneo, where he was ultimately captured by Japanese troops and held as a prisoner of war.

He died on June 7, 1945 - one of more than 2000 allied soldiers killed in the Sandakan Death Marches.

Malin was commemorated for a period afterwards with the Bill Malin Memorial Trophy, but after many years out of sight, the Old Boys have driven its return as a perpetual award.

A player of the match award in Gunner Malin's name was also revived for the ANZAC Round held when Wests Juniors took on Brothers, the Black Panthers wearing a maroon jersey with a black 'v' replicating what Wests wore during WWII and in 1946 due to a colour material shortage.

Cox was able to help share that knowledge in the lead-up, which was well appreciated by players and others involved.

"I actually took the opens down and a number of people came on the day to Gaythorne RSL. I did a brief PowerPoint presentation about how Wests started six days before we landed at Gallipoli, touched on WWI, a little bit of inter-war history and WWII, Bill Malin and then showed documentary on the Sandakan Death Marches," Cox said.

"When I turned the lights on, I said to the players and the coach: 'I don't think there is a set of eyes here that aren't red'.

"A couple of (the players) said, we knew things were bad, what happened with the Japanese, but we didn't think it was that bad and they said we just can't wait to wear this jersey."

It also inspired Wests Old Boys to look for fundraising opportunities, putting a team into the 48-kilometre leg of the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge, which included members representing past Wests ex-servicemen and raising $3600.

Garry Giomarelli, Sarah Maas, Nigel Cox, Oscar McArdle (support crew), Kayla Harwood (support crew) and Lexy McArdle.
Garry Giomarelli, Sarah Maas, Nigel Cox, Oscar McArdle (support crew), Kayla Harwood (support crew) and Lexy McArdle.

Generally the group is actively encouraging former Wests players to play their part in supporting all their affiliated clubs, and identify opportunities to set good examples and make a difference.

"That's part of the young ones coming up learning the history and appreciating it and hopefully they'll come back then to help out as well, and by getting involved then it puts the spotlight on history, a bit more and people think about it," Cox said.

And a few stories told on Saturday reliving glory days and pride in the club will no doubt fuel the inspiration to be an active part of the Old Boys.

"In the '70s, we were the glamour team. Wests could draw 25,000-30,000 to Lang Park for a game on Sunday, and Sydney teams don't get that today," Cox said.

"After the Brisbane Broncos started, we certainly did start to turn things around in relation to crowd numbers too, and at home and away games people were flocking back to see Wests play.

"Towards the end of the 1980s we had a couple of coaching changes, but Neville Hunter took over in 1990 and got into the grand final in 1991.

"Gary Greinke - he won a grand final with Souths in the '80s - then stepped up and took over and from there had players start to develop and have that bit of experience.

"They weren't happy that they lost (in '91) and they carried that on and won in 1992 and 1993, and even though they didn't make the grand final again until 1998, they made the preliminary finals for many of those other years.

"Pretty much we were one of those teams on a shoestring budget... and players wanted to stay at Wests just because of the culture."

The honour roll of players from the era includes the like of Tony Currie, Brad Thorn, Adrian Lam, Steele Retchless, Alan Wieland and Craig Bowen, many who are set to make an appearance on Saturday night, as well as premiership coach Gary Greinke.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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