Touch originals: From left, Steve Llewellyn, Tony Wells, Peter Cairns, Doug Hughes and Barry Livermore. The five are all from the first-ever matches 25 years ago.
Touch originals: From left, Steve Llewellyn, Tony Wells, Peter Cairns, Doug Hughes and Barry Livermore. The five are all from the first-ever matches 25 years ago. Gary Nichols

25 years on field and going strong

FOR 25 years, Steve Llewellyn has managed to do what most husbands only dream about doing – he has devised the perfect plan to get out of doing the household chores each Sunday.

When most guys are busy raking up leaves or mowing the lawn, Llewellyn is having a great time playing touch footy with his mates.

This year marks a quarter of a century the semi-retired accountant has graced the playing field at Grafton High School.

With more than 600 games under his belt, Llewellyn and Peter Cairns, Barry Livermore, Doug Hughes, Tom Fitzpatrick and Tony Wells have been strutting their stuff every Sunday morning, rain, hail or shine.

“We play every Sunday except if it falls on Christmas Day,” Llewellyn said.

“It’s great, we get out of the chores on Sunday morning ... we have very forgiving wives.”

Llewellyn said the whole idea of playing touch on the weekend began as a way of keeping fit and as a social outlet.

“It actually started as a Sunday morning competition, but ended up folding so we decided to keep playing,” he said.

“Back then we charged each player 50 cents a game, which we kept aside for a barbecue and refreshments every three months; in fact it’s still 50 cents a game.”

Cairns was with Llewellyn from the start and although his knees are shot, he continues to play and, to the dismay of other players, referees at the same time.

“Axe”, as he is affectionately known, keeps a close eye on any infringements and will have no part of affiliated rules.

“When players arrive to play for the first time it’s not long before they realise affiliated rules are out the door,” Cairns said with a wry grin on his face. I stick with the old rules and that includes playing the ball with your foot.”

There’s no shortage of healthy banter in force and right in among it all is none other than Llewellyn, who still possesses plenty of guile and pace off the mark for a man in his twilight years.

“We’re all good mates, but that doesn’t stop us taking the ‘mickey’ out of each other’,” Llewellyn said.

“I like to give some of the guys a bit of a serve now and then ... you have to have a pretty thick skin.”

Herb Duroux is the envy of most players, who at the age of 64 can still match it with his much younger opponents.

“Its good for the young kids to have a run and pick up on certain skills that some of the more experienced players have to offer,” Duroux said.

One player who enjoys his Sunday morning hitout is Tom Fitzpatrick, who admits it takes him the rest of the week to recover.

But on a positive note he gets to play along side his son Andrew, who is slightly quicker than his old man.

So if you’re keen, or smart for that matter, and need an excuse to exit the house on Sunday, head down to Grafton High School for a social game of touch. And one word of advice – from someone who has made the effort – make sure you’re on the same team as Doughie Hughes and Tony Wells.

Hughes will make you look like a champion with his sublime ball skills, and even though he’s getting on in years Wells still has plenty of pace to burn.



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