Community & Business

25 May, 2024

Legendary ‘Mountain Men’ revered

A lot of things have changed in 100 years, but the one thing that hasn’t is the way that people feel about Millaa Millaa Rugby League (MMRL), which was legendary for being a formidable force in the North.

By Brigitte Daley

Legendary ‘Mountain Men’ revered - feature photo

A reunion dinner was held at the Millaa Millaa RSL Hall last Saturday night to commemorate and celebrate what would have been the centenary of its existence.

The event was a phenomenal success, with 210 former players, coaches and supporters coming together to reminisce about past victories, memorable plays and shared experiences.

John Roots and Dale (Bushy) Halbert initiated the idea.

Such is the significance of MMRL in people’s lives that some people would not have been born had it not been for MMRL, as their parents first met at football games.

People came from all around Australia, including Melbourne, Darwin, Brisbane and Alstonville in NSW to participate in the event.

Former player Mark Johnson was in attendance, reuniting with his football teammates after an incredible 48-year gap, nearly half a century since they last met.

He was in the last premiership team in 1977.

Bob Ferrari, aged 88, was the oldest player present on the night, while Steve Bailey, aged 58, was the youngest, spanning a gap of 40 years exactly.

A “Living Legend” award was presented to Bob Ferrari.

One of his favourite memories of MMRL was of the comradeship and loyalty of the supporters – win or lose.

“Training the younger players was very rewarding,” Bob said.

“My aim was to teach the kids how to play the game and that winning isn't everything.”

In attendance on the night were Peter Grigg and Ross Hanley who played junior league for Millaa Millaa and then went on to play for Australia in rugby union.

Also present were Morgan and Anne Wakely and daughter Amber. MMRL’s esteemed “Jack Wakely Cup” was named in memory of Morgan’s father, Jack.


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