Still pulling on the boots 40 years on
RUGBY UNION: He was there at the start and 40 years later Geoff Hurrey is still playing in the Central Highlands Rugby Union competition.
Hurrey played in the first ever Central Highlands game in 1978 and in the intervening years the now 62-year-old has served in a number of roles and positions for his beloved Clermont Bush Pigs.
Hurrey has a wealth of stories from his rugby days but one memory he is sure to never get tired of sharing relates to the try he scored in the grand final against the Emerald Rams earlier this month, just the second try of his lengthy rugby career.
Ironically his first try was scored in the first year of the Central Highlands Rugby Union competition.
"When I scored the try I couldn't believe how the Emerald crowd reacted,” Hurrey said.
"They were just as happy that I had scored as our supporters were. It's not too many times that a home crowd cheers when the opposition scores a try.”
Hurrey, who was filling in at hooker, scored after charging down a kick.
"I've done plenty of charge downs but not scored. I thought I better jump on that (the ball) before anyone else does,” he said.
"I was expecting an Emerald Ram to come charging through.”
Hurrey said he doesn't play for the glory of scoring tries but rather for the love of the game.
Hurrey said he wanted to play in the grand final this year because he is the only one around now who was also there 40 years ago.
"It's a fair time when you think about it,” he said.
"I played for one year then went contract harvesting.
"Then there was a golden oldie game in '92 and I had fun so I thought I'd sign up after that and in '93 I started playing again.
"I enjoy playing, I love the game. It's probably only in the last few years that I thought I'd give it away.
"If there's a heap of young fellas then I let them play but if they're short then I'll pull on the boots.”
Since 1993 Hurrey has been there for every season.
"I grew up playing rugby,” he said. "I started in under-12s and played in New South Wales until I came to Clermont.
"In 1976 union wasn't played then so I played for the Clermont Bears but when they started their three-side competition, I played union.”
His time with the club was not restricted to playing. He served as coach for eight years, winning five premierships.
"I had a six-year straight stint (as coach) and had two years off and then another two years as coach.”
Among his more memorable years as coach was 1999, Hurrey's first year in charge.
"We had a young fella, Brian Brennan, who moved to Townsville in '98 but sadly passed away that year,” he said.
"We had a memorial here for him in 1999, it was a big year. We won the grand final that year against Emerald in front of our home crowd.”
Another highlight for Hurrey was travelling with the Clermont Bush Pigs to play the Jindabyne Bush Pigs.
"We took a team down and played in the Snowies,” he said.
"Both clubs had celebrated 25 years as a club and Jindabyne had a union side called the Bush Pigs and a league side called the Bears.”
Though Hurrey vows the 2017 season is his last, doubts remain about his playing future.
"That'll do me now, I'll hang up the boots,” he said. "I'm pretty sure I will, if I've got any sense I will but never say never. It's probably silly but I enjoy it, it's good fun.”
Whether he plays next season or not, Hurrey is confident the Bush Pigs will win the premiership.
"If these young fellas stick together they'll do alright,” he said.