NOBODY needs to tell Dora Creek Swampies Rugby League Football Club president Brian Finlay how things have changed in the game.
A former player and coach with the club, Finlay’s association with the Swampies goes back to 1978, so he has seen most of those changes first hand.
But nowhere will the evolution of the game – and the community – be more evident than when the Swampies gather to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary at Dora Creek Workers Club on Friday, March 23.
For starters, some of the club’s foundation players from 1969 will be rubbing shoulders with some of the club’s newest recruits, the women from the Swampettes Oz Tag team.
“Some of the Swampettes girls will be there, which I’m sure will raise the eyebrows of a few of the old footballers,” Finlay said.
Among the foundation players expected to attend will be the club’s first captain of A Grade, Keith Hopley, and the Swampies’ first try scorer in the top grade, Neville Heaton.
Finlay said he was going through some of the club’s historical documents when he discovered that the club was formed in 1968, and entered two teams in the Newcastle Hunter Rugby League competition the following season.
The local club in the Newcastle Rugby League competition, Macquarie United, was required to approve the Swampies’ admission.
The club has won 10 premierships in A Grade and reserve grade.
“I’d say 1984 was the golden era for local football, as Dora Creek won the comp in A Grade and reserve grade, and Morisset won B Grade,” Finlay said.
Finlay had been playing with Lakes United in the Newcastle comp when he came to play with Dora Creek in 1978.
“I couldn’t believe how friendly the people here were,” Finlay said.
“It was a very family-orientated club. We used to have Christmas parties for the kids.”
Finlay coached the club’s reserve grade to back-to-back premierships in 1980 and 1981, and would later step up to mentor the top grade, becoming the longest-serving coach in the club’s history.
He said the club had produced some outstanding players over several eras.
“Some that come to mind are Justin and Dean Ferris, Jessie Kelly, Chris Nolan, Barney O’Brien, Harvey Dillon, Kevin Deaves, Bob Stallard, Chris Riley and Greg Nichols,” he said.
Several Swampies players had gone on to play in the Newcastle competition, including Craig Windle and Ward Snowden, while Gary Curtis and Mick Milligan enjoyed success in the top grade with Wyong in the Central Coast competition, he said.
Finlay said the club was in good shape today, on and off the field, due to the hard work of club men including Graham Killen, Josh Lyden, and Harley Farrugia.
About 180 people are expected to attend the 50th anniversary function.
“And the tickets are selling fast. They’re $30 which covers your meal and a couple of drinks,” Finlay said.
“We have a band playing, and it’ll be a fun night.”
Tickets are available from Brian Finlay at Martin’s Meats, at Dora Creek. Phone 4973 1203.