SOME of the most talented players ever to pull on a boot in Bathurst were rewarded for their footballing achievements on Saturday at the Centenary of League dinner held at Bathurst Panthers.
St Pat’s, Railway, and Bathurst Panthers announced their teams of the century, with Panthers’ squad including players from Charlestons and Penguins.
Players representing basically every generation of the sport in the district were included, along with some more recent talent.
Current Panthers player William ‘Bubba’ Kennedy was named in their side. So, too, were former St Pat’s player Mark Elliot, current Saint Trent Hemsworth, ex-Panthers captain-coach Dave Elvy and centre Jason Thorne.
The selectors of the respective sides would have had plenty of headaches trying to assess the multitudes of talent that have gone through each team, despite the fact that a handful of players more or less picked themselves.
Players like ex-international Paul Dunn, named in the second-row for Railway, and Saints five-eighth Lawrence ‘Buddy’ Burke were automatic starters.
But trying to separate some of the others would have been a tough task.
Hemsworth was picked on the bench, and understandably so given that the man picked as run-on dummy-half was none other than premiership captain-coach, the late Jack Arrow.
Elliot was picked to start in the centres alongside Kevin Woolfe for the Saints.
Kennedy was named on the wing alongside Geoff Thorne for Panthers, pushed out of his preferred centre position by Tony Burke and Fred McGarry Sr.
Elvy was another player named on the bench, behind starting halves Jeff Hay and Keith Blackett.
Ex-title winning captain-coach Paul Upfield was another prominent name from more recent times to earn a spot with Panthers, named at lock, while Thorne was selected alongside Elvy as a reserve.
“I was actually in Mudgee doing some stuff with the Western Academy, so I didn’t get to make it to the dinner, but I’ve had a few people talk to me about it and it is a very nice bit of recognition,” Elvy said.
“There are a few players on the lists who are a lot before my time, but it is nice to see some familiar faces there as well.
“It isn’t what you play rugby league for, to get your name in teams like this, but given the ups and downs of a rugby league career it is always a really nice thing to be spoken about in those sorts of discussions.”
Unlike a lot of the others selected in the various teams on Saturday, Elvy’s career didn’t start in Bathurst before going on to bigger things.
He began his football in Parkes with the Spacemen in Group 11 before commencing his NRL career with Penrith, eventually landing in Bathurst more than a decade ago as captain-coach with the Panthers.
After some heartbreaking grand final defeats, he and his team were able to taste premiership glory in 2006-07.
“Football with Panthers, both in Penrith and in Bathurst, has been a huge part of my life and like any career there are a lot of ups and downs,” he said.
“That first premiership was probably the greatest memory, we lost to Mudgee in 2004 and had a try disallowed late in the game that would have won us the competition and we were beaten again the next year.
“To finally win it in extra time over in Lithgow in 2006 was pretty memorable.
“Like anything, too, the best thing about football is the mates you make. You can bump into someone three or four years after last seeing them, sit down and catch up and talk about the past.”
Elvy played alongside fellow selections Blackett, Thorne and Kennedy with Panthers, as well as Elliot and Hemsworth at representative level.
The earliest stages of his career also coincided with Upfield’s shift to Parkes.
“He was captain-coach in Parkes in my first season of senior footy, actually,” Elvy said. “He helped me get a manager and put me into first grade as an 18-year-old. We won a comp that year and I owed a lot of my start to Paul.
“‘Ripples’ [Elliot] and Trent have both been great players for St Pat’s and fully deserve their spots. It has been a great idea for them to pick these sides, it has created a lot of chat and debate which is good for the game.”
Bathurst St Patrick’s: Kevin Woolfe, Monsignor Leo Grant, Jack Arrow, Lawrence ‘Buddy’ Burke, Neville Dawson, Steve ‘Stahl’ Vane, Gerard Toole, John Fish, Jack Holden, Richie Farrar.
Bathurst Railway: Snow Garlick, Albert Paul, Greg Hay, Billy Rose, Bob Adamson, Paul Dunn, John O’Toole, Danny Lavelle, Rex McDiamond, Warren Taylor.
Bathurst Panthers (Charlestons and Penguins): Neville Smith, Fred McGarry Sr, Harold ‘Dukey’ Lewis, Bill Bake, Tom Marsh, Brian ‘Butch’ Stevens, Robbie Cashen, Dave Nicholls, Greg Hay, Tony Burke.