Axemen farewell six
WINTER Sundays won't be the same at Coramba Coliseum, with six of Orara Valley rugby league club's finest servants hanging up the boots.
The Lacey boys, Joel and Scott, Paul Tomlinson, Grant Douglass, Dan Van Der Donk and Sam Gilchrist have called time on exceptional careers and while every player is allowed at least one retirement, for the Lacey brother known as "Silver Fox" it's certainly the end.
Lacey was named best and fairest in first grade at the club's presentation dinner and made an emotional speech, reflecting on 16 years of grade football that earned enormous respect from his peers.
Before his second-last match (against Woolgoolga) on August 18, the Silver Fox recalled a memorable first grade debut against Port Sharks in the 1996 season.
"I still haven't been hit as hard as in that game," he said.
"Their captain (Anthony Hill) broke his shoulder in that tackle and I was winded for two weeks."
Lacey named Tomlinson and Douglass as his favourite players from an era where success followed the club everywhere, and he also paid tribute to former coach Darryl Fisher.
"It's been a pleasure and a friendship and premiership bond that will last a lifetime.
"Darryl had the most influence on my career.
"He knows how to get the best out of every player and the four years he was coach you learned something new every training session.
"You bled for him and your mates in those years we dominated.
"Winning the grand final in 2008 was a proud moment, but to have your wife and kids there after every full-time bell goes is mine.
"It should be every husband and father's proudest moment."
Scott Lacey and Sam Gilchrist have hinted a comeback in 2013 could be considered and this is becoming more likely after the latter was awarded life membership.
Gilchrist debuted on the wing as a 16-year-old in 2000.
Glen Soper was also awarded life membership, while a special presentation was made to Daryn McEwan to mark 25 years of service as a player and executive.
With 2011 co-coaches Douglass and Tomlinson stepping aside, the club is in the market for a replacement.
Rumours are circulating a high-profile and successful candidate from within Group 2 is being courted but president Darrly Fisher said no decision had been made yet.
Axemen Prize Winners 2011
Jarrod Few (Player of 2011)
Jamie Anderson (Highest points)
Nathan Hardy (Sporting achievement)
Jarath Moss (Rookie)
Nathan Hardy (Back)
Scott Lacey (Forward)
Chris Shears (Players' player)
Josh Few/Corey Quigg (Coach's players)
Joel Lacey (Best and fairest)