A big relief
By GREG WHITE
It's sigh of relief time.
Bellngen star Jason McGrady continues to make progress following his brush with cancer.
He'll have surgery next month and while playing again is in doubt, my spies say he's back at touch giving everyone hell.
Anybody still wondering if the Men of League organisation is worthwhile, look to Mr. McGrady as the type of person it was founded for.
Not many outside the upper management and coaching structure would have known John Noonan who passed away last week, far too young, at 61.
Known universally as 'Donkey' (for reasons we won't go into here but use your fertile imagination) he was the only one of three footballing brothers not to play for North Coast, but later became president and a life member of the Division.
Donkey Noonan was the bloke who introduced me to Taree United and while that great old club no longer exists, many are the times we'd remember together the outrageous things we got up to back in our youth.
He was the template for country administrators.
Hours stretching into years, of selfless devotion to rugby league.
In his later life, the juniors became a passion, especially getting young blokes noticed by NRL clubs.
Danny Buderus, Michael Sullivan, Ben Harris etc. were the most recent group to benefit from Donkey's banging on doors to 'give the young blokes a go.'
Three years back, Donkey joined the table of a group of us celebrating the reunion of our magnificent 1983 Group 3 premiership - winning team.
A million beers were swallowed (me on the orange juice to the horror of all who remembered my former capacity for beer) and thousands of fantastic lies were told.
With Donkey's passing, only myself and one other, survive from that table.
Should I worry or forget superstition?
They don't make them like Donk, anymore.
And so to the Sevens.
I was missing from last year for reasons beyond etc. so this will be my first.
The usual suspects are being rounded up and will gather at our favourite spot in front of the old Coramba Hotel fuelling station at the northern end of the ground.
Chief noisemaker, Terry 'Stone The' Crowe, describes this location as 'our roadblock'.
Typical of him to think of that.
If you haven't done so already, go to the various websites and check out some fantastic information.
The best place to start is www.oraravalleyaxemen.com and follow the links.
There's also a great site from last year's carnival and make sure you check out the Men Of League site.
And, the site of the mighty North Sydney Bears.
At the ground, I'll be the noisy idiot in the (bad news) Bears apparel screaming "...go with the Flo...unleash Leyshon...Buettner is beaut..." and so on and so forth.
Come on Flo, give us a tune.
"...the big black Bears are back on the road again, back on the road again, back on the road again.
"The big black Bears are..."