1980 PREMIERS: (Standing) coach Neil McClelland, Warren McCarthy, captain Darren Brenton, Lockie Wills, the late John Joseph, Murray Archibald, Alan Cameron, Anthony Joseph, Craig Gardiner, Graham Winkler, Mick Dahl, Graham Partland, Andrew Manz, Alan Burns, manager Darrell Gibson; (kneeling) Neil Norton, Paul Seccombe, Peter Harrison, Phil Lowrey, Mick Halligan, Malcolm McKenzie, Stuart Hoare, ballboy Luke McClelland. Absent: Paul Denny, Wayne Sherlock. contributed
1980 PREMIERS: (Standing) coach Neil McClelland, Warren McCarthy, captain Darren Brenton, Lockie Wills, the late John Joseph, Murray Archibald, Alan Cameron, Anthony Joseph, Craig Gardiner, Graham Winkler, Mick Dahl, Graham Partland, Andrew Manz, Alan Burns, manager Darrell Gibson; (kneeling) Neil Norton, Paul Seccombe, Peter Harrison, Phil Lowrey, Mick Halligan, Malcolm McKenzie, Stuart Hoare, ballboy Luke McClelland. Absent: Paul Denny, Wayne Sherlock. contributed

Coach played a unique part in city’s league history

THE lead-in to Coffs Harbour Rugby League Club's 50th anniversary has brought many long-forgotten stories to light through recollections of those involved in the early days.

One of the most significant coaching appointments in 1979 was former Coffs and Woolgoolga first-grader Neil McClelland, although why did not become apparent for a couple of years.

Forced into retirement with chronic knee and hamstring injuries, McClelland was approached by secretary Roy Dunn to coach the under-18 side and over the next three seasons the team played in all finals series.

The biggest victory was a memorable 1980 premiership at Brelsford Park when the young Coffs players upset previously undefeated Smithtown Tigers.

McClelland was then rewarded with the Group 2 under-18 representative appointment resulting in an unbeaten record against neighbouring Group 3.

McClelland became more important to the club's history because he and wife Maxine were the catalyst for a name change from the Banana Benders to the Comets.

How that change evolved will be related in The Coffs Coast Advocate on Saturday.

Meanwhile, more than 200 tickets have now been sold for the reunion on the June long weekend.

Drinks on Friday night will be held at Coffs Harbour Leagues Club with the 50-year dinner on Saturday in the Merv Mercer Lounge at Coffs Harbour Racing Club.

"The dinner is shaping up to be a very big night and we have been inundated with interest," president Steve Gooley said.

"You cannot buy tickets on the night so please get in early and secure them," Gooley said.



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