Faces of Tamworth: Former Canberra Raider Alan Tongue

Alan Tongue’s had many achievements both on and off the footy field. After 220 NRL games for the Canberra Raiders, Tongue moved into his post-football career. He became a high profile voice against domestic violence as well as working with at-risk youth which led to Tongue being named ACT Australian of the Year.

As Alan Tongue takes a break from running the Scripture Rugby League Camp at Farrer, it gives the former student a chance to reminisce.

It’s where his rugby league career was kick-started.

He was in the Broncos system initially before making the Australian Schoolboys side.

That gave him the chance to “look at a couple clubs” before landing on the Raiders.

However, playing rugby league isn’t what sticks out for him when he remembers running around at Farrer.

“I’ve got some really good memories of this school,” Tongue said.

“Some of my best mates that I have today are from this school.

“The footy element was always important but the mateship I got from this school was really important to me.”

Tongue grew up in Loomberah and went to Nemingah Primary School before moving on to Farrer where he finished up in 1998.

Tongue then moved to Canberra – where he’s “been ever since” – racked up 220 games for the Raiders along with games for the Prime Minister's XIII and the Country Origin team.

The former NRL player always makes time to visit Tamworth.

“It’s good to get back home,” Tongue said.

“It’s also good to spread a couple really important messages to me.”

NRL blockbuster to be “etched in the memories of people forever”

Tamworth’s own Alan Tongue believes Saturday’s NRL clash played at Scully Park has the potential to leave behind a string of long-lasting effects.

Money brought to town and new players to the game are two results Tongue believes the game being brought to Tamworth will provide but above all that, the former Canberra captain said it will give youngsters a memory they’ll never forget.

“When I was about five or six years old, Laurie Daley and Dean Lance came for a training session at minor league one day and I can still remember that. And that was just for a training session and to sign a few autographs,” Tongue said.

“To actually meet the players and watch a game. This is going to be etched in the memories of people forever.”

Tongue believed young people would “leave the game energised” and would continue an association with the game in some capacity.

“They might not want to play the tackle version but they might go and play touch or they might become a member a footy club,” Tongue said.

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Tongue was also looking forward to the game as a fan.

“They’ve just set it [the NRL competition] alight,” Tongue said of Newcastle and Wests.

“The Tigers had a great win on the weekend and Newcastle have had some really good wins. They beat the Raiders down at home – I was commentating that game – they looked so exciting and slick with the ball in hand. It’s going to be a treat for the locals to see.”

Tongue will also commentate the Tigers-Knights game but it’s not the only reason the former Country Origin player is in town.

He has been helping run the Scripture Union Rugby League Camp.

It is the second year the camp has been held.

It started on Monday and runs over three days at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School.

“It’s been great, we’ve got an increased number of young people that have come across to do the camp,” Tongue said.

“We want to continue to grow it each year.

“It’s good to get back home and good to spread a couple messages that are really important to me.

“Not only about how great rugby league is and to improve our skills as a player but my faith has been really important to me throughout my career.”

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