THE STARS COME OUT AND DAZZLE HAY
- and Rugby League is the Winner
By Peter (Parra) Montgomery
The community of Hay, the sporting public of Riverina, the fans of the Hay Magpies and the kids of the Murrumbidgee Rugby League "Catchment Area" were given memories that will remain with them forever when they recall the weekend the ALL STARS came to town.
The events were all well attended and everyone in attendance would have left the functions thinking "Wow, how good was that".
The Hay Footy Show on Thursday night, despite a few microphone glitches, was a hugely entertaining evening with Gray Belcher doing a mighty job as compere, and some terrific input by the doyen of referees, Billy Harrigan and Melbourne Storm Grand Final Hero, Ben Roarty.
The trio kept the audience enthralled, and they were joined on the stage by four modern day NRL ‘heroes’,Trent Barrett, Luke Priddis, Adam Perry and the charismatic Mario Fenech who provided great ‘impromptu’ entertainment.
The Celebrity Golf Day was well supported with All Stars Harrigan, Belcher and Roarty joining with the locals to have a hit of golf.
Billy Harrigan took out a prize with the ‘longest drive’, his first shot of the day, Gary Belcher had some golfing moments, whilst Rorts as a golfer made a good second rower.
The day was won by Hay Golfing icon Billy Prior, who despite being in his eighties, showed the youngens’ a thing or two.
Brisbane based Peter O’Connor, who travelled down with David Reid Homes CEO Ken Beissel – and is in the low handicap bracket - finished second.
The golfing crew included Michael Johnston, Gary Perrot, Laurie Andrews, Denis Sullivan, Fred Hobbs,Mark McClelland and Ron Leonard who both enjoyed a round at the very well maintained and competitive Hay Golf Course.
Friday at the Number 2 Oval was a sight for sore eyes, especially for Rugby League fans.
The Macquarie Sports/ARL Development Super Clinic was a well run, well organised event with the kids from small schools throughout the district converging on Hay by the bus load, each receiving specialist training from the 18 NRL Development Officers in attendance and meeting a greeting the ambassadors, Trent Barrett, Luke Priddis and Mario Fenech.
Dean Whymark and Paul Walker from ARL Development had terrific input, and the Junior Magpies Club appreciated the help it received from the parents, community, the Shire Park staff under Michael Howard, the teachers, and High School playing members of the Magpies junior teams.
Every junior in attendance was presented with a ARL kit bag that containing kicking tees, posters and other Rugby League equipment.
Months of planning, weeks of preparation arrived on Saturday with the balance of the NRL superstars flying into Hay on Charter plane from Canberra for the Pie in the Sky VI – Rubbing Shoulders with Champions weekend.
The Park was in superb condition following magnificent work by the Park Staff who had the ground looking a picture, filling in the holes on the perimeter of the field caused as a result of a careless and illegal action by person or persons unknown of using a poison to kill off grass in marking out a track.
The work Ron, Kelly Gash Thora Deacon and family put into the Club is remarkable – they never stop.
The lead up matches were tremendous with the Magpies Under 16 team turning on a great show against the recently reformed Griffith Black and White side that filled in for Yanco Wamoon which pulled out at the last minute.
The Magpies Club was delighted that Craig Hannan was able to get his players to travel to Hay on short notice.
Hay won the game 22-0 with Matt Whitehead the LUKE WILLIS MEMORIAL MEDALIST for best on Ground.
The Leeton Greenies again demonstrated the magnificent skills in beating Hay 4-1 in the Grand Final rematch. Leeton scored right on full time to make it 4, 3-1 was probably a good indication of the difference between the sides.
Megan Pearson crossed for Hay. Bec Hill had a great game for the Greens.
Rachael Pearson was the recipient of the LUKE WILLIS MEMORIAL MEDAL
ALL STARS MATCH
International Jason Croker attended the match, but was a late withdrawal from the ‘run on side’ after suffering a hamstring tear during the week.
His place in the team was taken by Adam Perry, a premiership winning hooker with Canterbury in 2004.
The match attracted live radio audience with ABC Riverina the MEDIA PARTNERS for the match with legendary commentator David Morrow joined by Chris Coleman for the call.
I was fortunate enough to sit alongside David and Chris and listen to the call and was in awe of how accurate the commentators were in identifying players in the Magpie side.
The withdrawal of Danny Nutley, David Peachey, Darren Smith and Ricky Stuart in the lead up to the match, left the All Stars bench ‘skinny’.
BUT it gave the Club the opportunity to run up and comers Mitchell Rosser, Pat Miller, David Stedman, Billy (Fiji) Namulomulo and Setelo Tuimoala (Lohy) alongside the champions, an experience they will never forget.
Mitchell and Robert Kevin scored tries for the All Stars in memorable performance, while Robert Kevin – a recruit from Robinvale impressed all and sundry with his running and determination.
Stedman, the Ivanhoe based Magpie enjoyed running against his team mates and Billy Namulomulo showed he is another handy pickup.
The players observed minutes silence before the game in memory of former Magpie players Dick McCormick and Mick Thorne who passed away during the days in lead-up to the match, as well as Peter Griffiths, a former team mate of Arthur Beetson at Redcliffe and past coach of Rugby League great Mal Meninga.
The All Stars won the match 50-8 with Ken Nagas at fullback turning in a stunning performance crossing for two sensational tries.
Ken displayed that he would still be able to play in the NRL. He is quick elusive and knows his way to the line.
David Furner had a ball. He crossed for two tries and added 4 goals to his tally, and Big Q, Quentin Pongia rattled the bones of many Hay players with punishing defence that made him a legend in New Zealand Test teams.
Everyone knew the All Stars would win, but not everyone knew how hard they would play the game, how far they would turn back the clock, and how unobtrusive Bill Harrigan would be on the field, despite being dressed in a hot pink outfit.
Matt Geyer, Marcus Bai, Laurie Daley, Bradley Clyde, Big Mal, Andy McFadden, Toots Croker, Shane (Billy) Millard, Ben Roarty, David Furner, Mark Tookey, Simon Woolford Adam Perry and Quentin Pongia all made fantastic contributions to the weekend, not only on the paddock, but off it.
Big Arthur Beetson was his charismatic self, displaying All the class and presence that made him an immortal of the game.
The Magpies scored two tries – the opening try by Ryan Gash in Billy Thompson Corner after Jermaine Dixon had put Harley Hey into a hole. Hey got past Daley before drawing Nagas and giving Gash a clear run to score.
The All Stars then put 50 points on without a hitch, before Damien Kennedy scored for the Magpies right on full time.
Rosser looked to have crossed for another try, but referee Harrigan was unsighted and referred it to the crowd in the Bar Area – "The Pig Pen" - for decision..thumbs up or thumbs down.
The Pig Pen gave it thumbs down, before realising it was a Hay player who had actually crossed for the All Stars.
The only dampener for the match was a dislocated elbow suffered by Shane (Billy) Millard.
It was fortunate that the Raiders Club doctor Wilson Lo, and Paramedic Grant Hogan were at the game and able to give Billy the best of attention, immediately the injury occurred.
To use a cliché`, Rugby League was the winner.
Simon Parr was selected by referee Harrigan as the Luke Willis Memorial Medal winner, with Nagas named as the ALL STARS best.
David Reid Homes All Stars 50 (David Furner 2, Ken Nagas 2, Mitchell Rosser, Setelo Tuimoala , Bradley Clyde, Simon Woolford, Matty Geyer, tries David Furner 4, Matt Geyer 2, Andrew McFadden goals) defeated HAY MAGPIES 8 (Ryan Gash, Damian Kennedy tries)
Highlights of the weekend will be shown on SKYNEWS (Sportsline Channel 601) on Friday at 9.30 am and 10.30pm, and repeated at the same times on Saturday and Sunday. FoxSports will have coverage of the weekend on NRL on FOX on Wednesday March 16.