Gatley remembered

FAMILY MAN: Daryl Gatley (third from left back row) with the 1981 Maroons. Photo: Contributed
FAMILY MAN: Daryl Gatley (third from left back row) with the 1981 Maroons. Photo: Contributed Contributed

THE rugby league community joins the Gatley family today in farewelling Darryl Gatley, a man who dedicated his life to his three passions: family, football and fishing.

Those who were closest to him could not distinguish in which order they would have been placed during his rich life.

As far as Gatley's rugby league days went they started in the junior ranks of Railways and when he moved to Brisbane in the mid-1970s, his stature in the game grew.

Darryl's son, Darren, said his father's coaching days began with West Mitchelton where he mentored a talented back-rower and in 1977 he made a statement to a sports trainer which changed his involvement in the game.

"He coached Paul Vautin in under-14s but it was a comment to Dr Kevin Hobbs one day that took him on a different path," Darren said.

"This was in the days they used hot bricks for treatment.

"Dad said to him 'If you find a better way to treat injuries I will become a trainer'. Not long after they started using ice instead and the rest is history."

The change in sport medicine gave Gatley the opportunity to be around some of the game's greatest players and he was involved in the first State of Origin in 1980 and he toured with the Kangaroos in England in 1982.

In 1984 he made the trip to the United States where he spent time with the San Francisco 49ers as a trainer in the NFL.

Darren recalled a story his father told him about a disagreement with the team's Superbowl-winning quarterbacks' odd requests.

"Dad was not happy with what Joe Montana wanted but he was told otherwise," he said. "The order came back that Joe got what he wanted - if Joe wanted a bed-time story read to him dad was to read him two."

Even though Gatley spent time in a nursing home, his sense of family never left him, and his commitment to others shone through.

Along with the calls to his son to talk about the Maroon's chances in an upcoming game, he would arrange for special State of Origin nights to be held at the nursing home.

It was not just football Gatley focussed on but he would also organise bingo nights in which the entry fee was some chocolate, movie nights with John Wayne regularly featuring and music evenings for the residents to enjoy.

Gatley was a keen angler as well and Darren said whenever his father travelled overseas he always had a means to wet a line.

"One of the first things he packed was a telescopic fishing rod - he took it everywhere he went," Darren said.

"Whether it was in Papua New Guinea or New Zealand he always managed to go fishing.

"There was one story he paid a bloke 100 pounds in the UK one day to take him fishing."

Darryl Gatley was 71 when he died and his funeral will be held today at the Albany Creek Crematorium.

Topics:  bundaberg rugby league sport

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