MANILLA will be kicking up on the rugby league and lawn bowling fronts this weekend when Dally Messenger will be honoured.
While the local branch of the Men Of League will be holding an annual bowls day at Manilla Bowling Club, a special plaque to commemorate Dally Messenger’s time at Manilla will be unveiled at the Royal Hotel on Saturday afternoon.
Messenger, one of rugby league’s greats and a founding member, took over the Royal Hotel in 1917 and ran it for two years.
He also helped start rugby league in Manilla, said current Royal Hotel publican Tom Cocking of what was a “difficult job”.
In those days, rugby union had a stronghold in the district and quite a few locals were away fighting in World War I.
“However Dally formed a team around some of the remaining locals – Roy Blanch, Frank and Norman Chapman, Jack Munro, Ivan Miller and others –and they played in the Wednesday half holiday system,” Cocking said.
“Dally coached the team and had success in a 1918 Tamworth knockout.
“To celebrate his life and the foundation of rugby league in the town the local sub branch of the Men Of League will be unveiling a plaque on the Manilla Street wall of the Royal Hotel at 4pm on Saturday.
“Dally’s grandson Ken Messenger and great grandson Cameron Messenger will be attending.
“So too will John Quayle, a former Manilla player and international who became chairman of the NRL and is now a director of the Newcastle Knights.
Messenger was one of the first superstars of the game.
His genius helped establish the new code after a successful career in rugby union.
“Without Dally’s brilliance the game of rugby league would have taken more time to become established,” Cocking said.
“Dally played for East (Sydney) and between 1907 and 1917 he represented NSW, Australia, New Zealand and Queensland. He toured with the Kangaroos three times.”
His name also lives on in the NRL, with the NRL’s best player receiving the Dally M award.
While Dally Messenger’s life will be commemorated on the Saturday, the Men Of League also hold their annual bowls day.
Anyone wanting to take part in the triples bowls day can ring the Manilla Bowling Club (67851632) and register a team.