Always one step ahead
By MAX GODBEE
KERRY GODWIN has always loved football and played rugby league at school and in the Under-18s and reserve grades for Grafton All Blacks.
He has left his mark indelibly in the sport, not as a player but as a team conditioner and strapper with the Grafton City Ghosts Rugby League Club, helping the club to three of Grafton's five Group One first-grade premiership wins.
Kerry's contribution and dedication to club matters earned him life membership of Grafton Ghosts in 1999.
Yes, he has always loved football. But he has also loved and excelled in other sports, particularly sprint events in running. He was among the swiftest at Grafton public and Grafton high schools and in North Coast representative school teams.
Later, he recorded a successful professional running career.
Kerry has also coached athletes to win State honours, played hockey for years, gaining life membership of the Sailors Hockey Club, and more recently has taken up playing team tennis in a winning vein.
Kerry Raymond Godwin was born at Grafton's Runnymede Hospital in 1943, the son of Norma (nee Fuller) and Basil (generally known as Dick) Godwin.
His early education was at Grafton Primary School, followed by 2-1/2 years at Grafton High.
Kerry's main sports at both schools were rugby league, playing on the wing, and athletics, where the sprinting events were his forte.
In primary school Kerry performed strongly at the North Coast athletics championships in Lismore and was selected in the combined North Coast side for the NSW Primary Schools' athletic titles in Sydney, representing in the 100 yards and the relay.
"We did well but without winning medals although overall it was a great experience," Kerry said.
"I wasn't the best at schoolwork so I left before I reached 15 years of age and picked up a delivery job with the Billy Harrington-owned Dovedale Butchery.
"I would deliver the wrapped orders by bike with a covered carry bag on the front. After 12 months there I gained a job as general hand at the Federal Match Company's factory in Grafton, where Mal Smythe was the boss."
Kerry was there for 13 years and then went to work for The Daily Examiner as a subscription collector.
He worked for the newspaper in this capacity for five years, starting at 7am each week day, riding a company bike and carrying a money bag slung over his shoulders, stamping the card of each Examiner subscriber as they paid.
Deciding on a government job, Kerry joined Australia Post in 1977. He has been with Australia Post ever since, 28 years so far, sorting and delivering mail around Junction Hill and parts of Westlawn.
"When I started, mail was delivered on push bikes and then we progressed to motor bikes," he said.
"It's a good job working in the open air although the magpies are a bit feisty in the spring months."
While he had always gone to the local football games, Kerry's association with senior football began in 1959 playing in Under-18s for two years with Grafton All Blacks and the final two years of that club's existence, 1961 and 1962, as a winger in reserve grade.
Kerry was also into hockey with the Sailors club playing that sport on Saturday afternoon and rugby league on Sundays.
In 1963 All Blacks ? black jumpers with white V and white shorts ? joined with the Uniteds club ? green jumpers with white V and white shorts ? to form the Grafton Rugby League Club, which after a short while became known as Grafton Ghosts Rugby League Club.
From the start ? club Ghosts colours have been blue and white.
He gave away playing football when 20 but continued on with hockey for another 32 years, always with Sailors, usually as wing or an inner and finally retired from the sport in 1994, when he was 51.
In that time he had helped Sailors to a couple of first-grade premierships and was awarded life membership for his 32 years' dedication and work for the famous local club.
A dedicated Grafton Ghosts supporter, Kerry in 1977 answered a call from club president Boyd Nattrass to return actively to the club as the training conditioner.
Ghosts had plenty of fine players and an excellent player-coach in former Manly Warringah star Derek Moritz but needed a tough conditioner to get the sides thoroughly fit.
Kerry certainly did that putting the squad through a lot of distance running on the Grafton Showground and backed up with gut-wrenching road runs. So often did he take the players on to the road for running he was given the nickname of Roady.
In their first six matches, the Grafton side won just two games plus an 8-all draw with South Grafton, but then they won their next 10 in a row to grab the minor premiership.
They made it 11 on end with a strong 20-5 victory over Ballina in the major semi-final to earn entry into the 1977 premiership decider on the Grafton Showground.
South Grafton had won seven in a row including a 16-7 win over defending premiers Casino in a mid-week play-off under lights for fourth spot and a semi-final berth.
A few days later The Rebels beat Wests 25-12 in the minor semi-final and then trounced Ballina six tries to one for a 26-7 result at in the preliminary final at Ballina's Clement Park to join Grafton in the grand final.
The match drew a Group One record-paying crowd to the Grafton Showground and the see-sawing match lived up to all expectations.
Grafton Ghosts with a last ditch try to winger Ray Goodger, his second for the game and Grafton's 69th for the season, gave Grafton victory 16-14 in an absolute thriller.
Ghosts, under the leadership of former Sydney first-grader Phil Young and with Kerry Godwin still handling the conditioning, won their first five games of 1978 to make it 17 competition wins in a row for the blue and whites.
But with injuries and in-fighting they faded, to lose their next five in a row but finally managed fourth placing, only to be beaten in the minor semi-final.
The club's next grand final appearance was not until 1984 when Grafton, captain-coached by Tony Bindon, won the major semi-final to host minor premiers Lower Clarence on Ghosts new ground, Frank McGuren Field at Westlawn, with the premiership at stake.
The Ghosts lost out on this occasion, with the John Brown-coached Magpies playing their best game of the season to be successful 25-8.
Kerry gave away the conditioning job for a while, concentrating more on hockey and competing and coaching in track athletics but he was back, this time as a club strapper, for Grafton Ghosts when the Robert (Rip) Taylor captain-coached side won the 1988 premiership, beating Marist Brothers 14-8 on the Frank McGuren Field.
He was out of the picture when Taylor in 1991 led Grafton to their fourth Group One first-grade premiership, beating Balllina 29-14 in a grand final win, again on the Frank McGuren Field.
However, Kerry was there again as strapper when the Dean Callaway-led Grafton Ghosts, again on their home ground, scored a narrow 22-20 win over Marist Brothers to win the 2002 grand final and made it a double, winning the Under-18 premiership 12-10 over Ballina.
Asked who he thought was the best player he saw go around for Grafton Ghosts, Kerry had no hesitation in nominating classy halfback Mick Galloway.
Galloway played from 1977 to 1984 with Ghosts and featured strongly in two grand finals, winning in his first in 1977 and losing out in his second in 1984.
"There have been plenty of good players for Ghosts but I consider Mick the best," Kerry said.
"He was always on his game, a magnificent attacking player, a tremendous tackling machine and in fact I can't remember him ever having a poor game in his eight years with us."
He named Bob (Brains) Michael, winner of two premierships with Ghosts, 1970 and 1977, as the club's best forward.
During his senior athletics career Kerry usually trained by himself but on occasions travelled to Sydney for extra advice from long-time good friend Jack Giddy, a renowned surf life saving (Yamba) and athletics coach and tutor of Australian pentathlon champion and national representative Jim Schafer.
A number of professional sprint events fell to Kerry, including the Brunswick Valley Gift over 120 yards (110m), beating former South Sydney and Manly first-grade rugby league winger Tom Mooney.
Kerry also won a special feature event, the 130 yards Athol Dane Sprint, at the 1971 Macksville Gift.
He coached a number of promising young athletes. with Julie Cox who won a NSW 800m championship, and State representative Mandy Gaudron, among the best.
While he had played tennis in earlier times Kerry took to it more seriously 10 years ago and this past season, he, with Andrew Weatherstone, Phillip Moran, Marion Leaver and Rosemary McLachlan, won the Grafton City Tennis Club's A2 division 2 Saturday afternoon teams' competition.