INVERELL Hawks open the Karim and Paul Michael Memorial Gates before Saturday’s blockbusting Group 19 local derby against Glen Innes Magpies.
With the Hawks in outright fourth and playing second-placed Glen Innes it is indeed a big game with special significance for the Inverell Rugby League Football Club.
They open the new gates to the redeveloped Varley Oval and dedicate them to two special men in the history of the club.
Club treasurer and registrar Sue Fox said Karim Michael was the longtime gatekeeper at Varley Oval.
“He manned the gate for 40 or 50 years,” Fox said.
“His son Paul was the secretary before he died at 31. Karim only passed away two years ago.”
Fox said Karim’s service as gate man made the dedication of the gates the obvious gesture of recognition to two men who volunteered so many years of service to the club.
“It’s going to be a very special day for the club, its past and present officials, players and supporters,” she said.
“This is a fitting tribute and great honour for Karim, Paul and the Michael family. Karim dedicated 52 years of service to the sport and was awarded life membership and was also recognised by Country Rugby League.’’
He was a gatekeeper, a dedicated fundraiser and match day official and had a lot of pride in the club. Karim passed away on April 8, 2012.
Like his father, Paul was very popular in the league and local community.
He lost his life at only 31 in 1993 and was club secretary at the time of his death.
Hawks vice-president Darrel Kachel made the original submission where he suggested that both men be honoured at the ground due to their loyalty to the sport resulting in a unanimous decision by all sporting groups involved.
“It will be a great honour for past, present and upcoming players to walk through those gates in memory of two officials who gave so much to local league and showed such loyalty and set such a strong example,’’ Fox said.
“Varley Oval is the home of senior rugby league and looks great since the upgrade and as a club we are proud to be part of the progress. The Inverell Shire Council and Sports Council are to be commended for the upgrades making Varley Oval a first class facility in our town.”
Saturday’s official opening will take place at about 2.30pm, just prior to the start of the first grade match.
Darrel Kachel will make a short dedication speech with David Koch, a former premiership winning player with the Hawks providing a response on behalf of the Michael family.
There will also be a ceremonial cutting of the ribbon.
The Hawks welcome all past players, league supporters and the Inverell community to the game on Saturday for four grades of football and to help the club celebrate and remember two wonderful men.