Stalwart in league of his own
HAVING had an association with Bundaberg Rugby League since 1947, there is little John Byrne could not tell you about the code in the city.
He was there when Brothers Rugby League Club held its inaugural meeting and, as an 18-year-old, put his hand up to play the role of secretary.
It was a position he would hold for 25 years.
Byrne, 80, is the first to tell you he was never much of a player — the centre or fullback played a handful of games in the top grade for Brothers in his time.
The work off the field is what makes Byrne stand out, so much so that he can now add the feather of BRL patron.
“I was quite honoured. I guess it means the effort I’ve gone to over the years hasn’t gone unnoticed,” he said.
Byrne was instrumental in establishing Brothers Leagues Club as the first of its kind in Queensland, and still holds the position of Brothers Sports Club president, overseeing the operation of all sporting sub clubs.
“He’s a great bloke and really deserves this. He’s been involved for so long and we’re happy to have him on board,” BRL president Mal Breen said.
John’s son, Peter, is CEO of Bundaberg Regional Council.
He too was a promising player until injury derailed his career, while another son, Troy, went on to represent Queensland Country.
After a rough year with illness last year, Byrne has hit the ground running in 2010.
He admitted he was not out of the woods yet, but could not wait for the BRL season to start.
“I love getting down and watching the games,” Byrne said.
“I think Brothers should go well again; they have some great players in the side. But it should be another close competition.”
But premierships are not everything to him.
“The game is about having a medium for people to play sport. Premierships are good, but as a volunteer you just want to see people playing sport,” he said.