Congratulations to my good mate Liam Fulton on coaching the Campbelltown City Kangaroos to victory in the group 6 grand final last night.
I had spoken to many people about Fults coaching and said to them that he would get his side to go close to winning the comp even before the season had begun. He is a very smart bloke, even though he will tell you he isn't, and knows the game more than almost anyone I know. He is practical. He knows what to implement to get the best results. One of his greatest strengths though is bringing people together and being able to connect with everyone he meets. I am sure this has helped the teams success this year.
We spoke a few times throughout the year and he even picked up some of the players I had in the off season. I am very happy that these boys went and played under someone like Liam as I know he would have taught them the game well and they would have progressed as players.
Campbelltown City has a very special place in my heart as it was my first ever rugby league club and where I played my first ever game of rugby league. The memories I have from that time are still so vivid in my memory that it doesn't feel like it was 27 years ago. On cold mornings, or cold winters nights, it takes me back to being a kid running around at our oval behind Orana Park (C'town Sports Stadium). There is a smell in the air and a freshness that makes me feel like that little kid again. My brother also played at the club, won many premierships for them, and won the highest award in the club a few times. Mum and Dad are also life members. So City has fond memories for our family and it is great to see them have some success again this year.
Onto the friends side of rugby league, one of our S.G Ball players posted on his Facebook page yesterday "Rugby League isn't just a game to me. It's where I can be myself, where I can form stronger bonds with others, where I can be free, where I can just be me..." This got me thinking about a lot of things as I share many of the same thoughts. The stronger bonds part was evident last night in the grand final. As I looked through the team lists I have been friends with some of these people my whole life, played with them, or have coached them, and we are still tight as friends till this day. We don't have to see each other every single day or even talk every week, but when we do it automatically feels like it did when we were playing together or hanging out more regularly. To me, this is when you know they are your true friends, there is no awkward silences you just flow how you always did.There is something about rugby league that makes you bond with people much more closely.
For example from the game last night there was Ryan Russell who has been one of my best mates since primary school, Aaron Sweeney who has been a mate of mine since we were about 11, Fults and Albert Hopoate who I played with and have been mates for a long time. Then you have blokes that I have played with and are mates with and others that I have been lucky enough to coach such as Joey Peato, Christian Tulua, Kurt Austin, PJ Leifi, Raui Poaru, Jake Mullaney, Blake Sutton, Andy Fiagatusa, Dayne Craig, Jay Bonnell, Sione Tovo. If you throw in both the Dalton boys, Anthony and Drew that are also involved with Campbelltown City and have been life long friends, you have around 17 people from one game of footy.
Very grateful for all the memories and friends rugby league has given me.
Well done to all the boys from both sides still doing what they love.