KOOTINGAL Roosters got the Axe at Kootingal Hotel on Saturday.
The Group 4 Second Division club, formed in 1915, celebrated its 2013 season with the help of a few reunionists, their new female ladies’ league tag side, Kootylicious, and two sporting personalities – former top jockey Allan Robinson and his mate Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister.
Gillmeister and Robinson not only had a punting afternoon with all and sundry after the presentation ceremony but then were special guests at a fundraiser for the Kootingal Junior RLFC at Kootingal Bowling Club on Sunday night.
The junior and senior Roosters are flourishing.
With eight junior league sides playing in the Tamworth and District Minor League, the Roosters also have a a team in the Group 4 Second Division.
Unfortunately the Stu Dines-Kootingal side was knocked out in the semi-finals by Dungowan however the ladies’ league tag side, coached and organised by Zeta Knight, took out the inaugural Ladies’ League Tag grand final at Barraba.
They beat Barraba 8-4 in a tight grand final to win the Peter Blom Shield.
They were all there with Robinson and Gillmeister along with 13 players from the Kootingal Under 18s who won the 1963 Group 4 Second Division Under 18 grand final with what team member Dennis Shanahan believes was a 15-3 win over West Tamworth.
“No one is quite sure,” Shanahan said.
However what was certain was that 13 of the squad made it back for Friday night’s reunion dinner and Saturday’s club presentation day.
“It’s been terrific,” Shanahan said after a group photo with the 1963 side, the current day side and former club secretary Kitty Clegg.
“It was marvellous having Kitty Clegg here too,” Shanahan said.
“She’s 90. She opened the weekend and then presented us with our shirts – just tremendous.”
Robinson and Gillmeister were also amazed by the longevity of the 1963 side.
“It’s great they are all still alive,” Robinson said.
Robinson and Gillmeister have been mates for year.
“I used to have a few horses,” Gillmeister said.
“We’ve known each other for years.
“When he rang me I jumped at the chance.
“We get asked a lot to do these sort of things but don’t get the chance during the footy season.”
He has been an assistant coach at the Gold Coast Titans since they started.
He loves the chance to be a part of the Titans and thinks head coach John Cartwright is doing a wonderful job despite the beat-ups from the Sydney media.
“We were a little bit unlucky this year not to make the semis,” he said.
As a player, Gillmeister certainly made his mark, nicknamed the Axe because of his tackling ability, able to chop down attackers with big hits for a bloke who is not real big.
From Gladstone, he made his first grade debut with Brisbane Norths as an 18-year-old and joined Sydney Roosters in 1986.
After five years he moved to Brisbane and celebrated a grand final victory with the Broncos in 1991 in his very first year.
He also helped the Broncos when they became the first Australian club to win the World Club Challenge with a 22-8 win over Wigan in 1992.
Another NRL grand final success followed in 1993 before he moved to Penrith in 1994 and then the South Queensland Crushers.
He was the first tryscorer and also became their one and only Australian represented when selected in the Kangaroos in 1995.
He also made 22 State Of Origin appearances.
He was also the oldest ever forward selected to play for Australia when, at age 31, he was selected to play New Zealand in the three-Test 1995 series.
While he has many highlights and played with and against some of the greats, Gillmeister looks back on his career as “great fun”.
“We were only talking about it on our way up here,” Gillmeister said.
“It’s the friendships you make and the people you meet,” he said.
“Especially in a team sport like rugby league.
“Look at these blokes who have come back here for their 50th reunion. How good is that.”
Pressed for a tip in the NRL he favours Souths a “a little”.
“If I had to pick one it probably would be them but there’s nothing between them all.
“I do like the way Manly plays but the comp is so tight.”