TONY La Chiusa is the most successful coach in West Tamworth’s proud 101-year history.
This week the Tamworth plasterer was an interested guest at another West Tamworth Centenary organising committee at West Leagues.
He was there to see just what has been organised so he can pass on the information to the numerous “younger” West players and supporters who have been a part of the Lions successes since the West Tamworth and Tamworth City rugby league football clubs merged 18 years ago.
They formed the West Lions and La Chiusa was the second grade coach in the first two years behind John Gutherson and Jim Leis.
He won premierships those two seasons and, in the 16 seasons since he’s been in charge of the first grade side, he has won seven Group 4 first grade premierships.
La Chiusa coached the Lions to successive titles in 2000 and 2001 and has been at the helm for the last five in succession.
“I keep on telling the boys (players) this is a massive thing,” La Chiusa said.
“It’s never been done before, a fabulous achievement and one they can all be proud of.
“They might appreciate it in a few years’ time.”
The West Tamworth Robins won four in succession in 1966-67-68-69 while North Tamworth Bears also won four in a row in 2002-03-04-05.
For La Chiusa, the fifth successive title is a good way to go out.
“I can relax now,” he said.
“I can look forward to our presentation night (Friday, October 11) as well as the Centenary Reunion (October 18/19/20).
“That’s going to be a great weekend.
“We’ve already booked 10 seats for the reunion dinner.
“A lot of our guys are interested too because they were only young when City and West merged to form the Lions.
“I’m also a great believer in history and tradition.
“At various stages we had great club stalwarts such as (the late) Jimmie Crowe and Ken Thompson come down and talk to the boys about the old days, about the people like the Billy Bischoffs, the Graham brothers and the O’Tooles.
“You can’t have a club unless you have history.
“You have to have had a good past to have a present and good future.”
He had helped keep the West football club afloat through the last 18 years and hopes a few of the former players who attend the reunion weekend later this month might return and help a club struggling as a number of players and committeemen are retiring.
As centenary reunion organising committee chairman Kevin Robinson stresses, the reunion is about all the West Tamworth teams to have played since the 1912 inception.
He’s hoping it might also help mend a fractured club since the Lions merger.
Ron Surtees, who coached La Chiusa and his Tamworth High School teammates to a University Shield win at Endeavour Field (now Remondis Park) in 1978, is part of the reunion committee as well.
“This reunion is about honouring the milestone and bringing a lot of people together to have fun,” Surtees said.
The reunion weekend starts with a “meet and greet” in the Ken Chillingworth Room on the Friday night (Oct 18), a reunion dinner on the Saturday night (Oct 19) and then a farewell breakfast on the Sunday.
Oldest living West player Les Chillingworth, a brother of former legendary secretary manager Ken Chillingworth, will unveil a special centenary plaque.
Ken Chillingworth’s sons, Gary and Wayne , will also be in attendance to honour their father’s great input into the club while Shane Chillingworth, son of Les, is slated as a co-emcee with his daughter Breanna.
The organising committee meets again next Wednesday from noon at West Leagues. Any interested person is welcome to attend.