The Lower River Rugby League team of the 1960s.
The Lower River Rugby League team of the 1960s.

Anderson sporting dynasty

The Anderson families of the Maclean area have been a big part of the fishing industry and sport on the Lower Clarence and surrounds for more than 100 years.

The current Peter Anderson is the third generation of that name to play his part in the industry as a registered fisherman and with vital work for the industry in other ways.

His wife Jenny and their children, Garry, David, Vicki and Gaye have each been involved in the fishing business to some degree, ? some greatly, others mildly ? and they, along with Peter and Jenny's 12 grand children and one great grand daughter, have been prominent or in the case of the younger brigade are beginning to show prominence in sport.

Peter David Anderson was born in Maclean in July 1936, the son of Peter and Olive (nee Studdon) Anderson and the grandson of David Anderson who, around 1900, came with his brother Peter from Botany Bay in Sydney to make the Clarence their home.

Those two brothers, David and Peter, were sons of David and Catherine Anderson, who migrated from Scotland and set up fishing interests at Botany Bay.

The current Peter Anderson's father, Peter Anderson Snr was heavily involved in fishing and he and his wife also ran a dairy and cattle property at Kings Creek, Lawrence, where the family lived.

It was a busy life, farming, fishing commercially and at times cutting cane as the seasons permitted and finances demanded. They were just as busy when the family moved to make Maclean their residence and the father made fishing his main line of work.

He served many years as a director of the Fishermen's Co-operative including 30 years as its president.

In his early years there were few if any motorised fishing boats, with oar-power and an occasional sail the way to get to fishing grounds and round up the fish or prawns.

As a youngster Peter Anderson Jnr lived with his family at Lawrence and his early education was at the Kings Creek Public School.

He was seven years of age when the family moved to Maclean and he continued his education at Maclean Public and then Maclean Intermediate High School.

Like most other schoolboys of the time his main sports were a bit of athletics and plenty of cricket and rugby league, where he generally played fullback or on the wing.

"I liked running but somehow I always seemed to come second," Peter said.

When older he played club cricket and rugby league for Lower River.

In more recent years Peter has played lawn bowls with success.

It was in 1951, aged 15 and at the completion of his intermediate year (third year at Maclean High) that he left school and his first job was with local carrier Syd Cowling, transporting goods off-loaded from the coastal ships at the Maclean wharf, to stores around the district.

After seven or eight months in the carrying business Peter turned to fishing, having learned the trade assisting his father.

He first worked for another who was prominent in the fishing industry, Bill Baker, and in the 1950s purchased his first boat, a seven-metre craft named Zorro, which he used for towing mullet punts.

He later converted Zorro into a trawler and chased the fish in Lake Wooloweyah, the Broadwater and up to Grafton and beyond, even fishing as far upriver as Copmanhurst and into the Orara River.

In the off-seasons, when fishing wasn't too fruitful, he would, like his father before him, supplement his income in one of the toughest of all jobs, cane cutting.

There was a short time Peter and a few others from the Lower Clarence went to work at the Port Kembla Steelworks, but for Peter the call of the Big River was too strong.

He returned to Maclean and worked on a share basis on the Lola Merle, a 10.16m fishing boat owned by Shire Engineer Barry Watts. Peter purchased the boat outright in 1980 and still operates the trawler.

Peter had not played much sport in his first few years after school, but took up rugby league with Lower River around 1957.

He started in reserve grade, but before long was promoted to first grade and when he retired from the sport in 1966 he had played in three grand finals, winning two.

Peter remembers clearly the grand finals of 1961 and 1962, both against South Grafton on McKittrick Park, when Lower River (Lower River was the name then, the name Lower Clarence not adopted until 1966) had the great Peter Horne as captain/coach for both big games.

There was the disappointment of losing in 1961, beaten by the Ted Purkiss-led Rebels. Lower had led 12-nil at one stage, but South Grafton came back and when winger Darcy Patricks scored a near length-of-the-field try right on fulltime the scores were locked at 12-all.

Lower River had two players sent off by referee Bok Rowe in the extra time and South Grafton came away with a 17-12 win and the premiership.

The following year, 1962, Lower Clarence won all three grades each coached by Peter Horne and featured an 11-8 win over South Grafton in first grade.

In summing up Peter Horne put the win down to a big team effort, but named crash tackling lock Peter Anderson along with Dale Randall, Roy Franey and Ray Laurie as probably the big four in the victory.

Last week Peter Anderson, like so many other football followers, had no hesitation in naming Ray Laurie as the best rugby league player he had ever seen in the Clarence area and named Peter Horne as a champion coach.

Peter Anderson was also a top line cricketer playing firstly with a Fishermen's Eleven in the Lower Clarence competition and then winning a Lower Clarence premierships with Palmers Island and later a premiership in the Clarence River Cricket Association competition with Easts captained by Ray Connor and including such notables as Henry Brown and the Cotton brothers, Basil and Brian.

Life in sport after football and cricket for Peter has been lawn bowls and he recalls winning a club pairs championship with good mate Joe Plummer and teaming with Jack Clarke (skip) and Ray Ryan (lead) to win club and district triples titles and reach the final four teams in the State that year.

Jenny Anderson was born Janette Roberts at Grafton's Runnymede Hospital in 1941 as World War Two raged. She is the daughter of Hunter and Winifred (nee Blackadder) Roberts.

The family lived in Ulmarra and Jenny (the name she prefers) attended Ulmarra Public School and later three years at Grafton High before being employed at Grafton's Marble Bar Cafe in Prince Street, at that time owned and run by brothers George and Peter Cassematis

It was just on 46 years ago, 1959, that Jenny married Peter Anderson Jnr at St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Grafton.

Sons Garry and David carried on the fishing industry association and all four siblings have been prominent in sport.

Garry played soccer for a while and then for a number of years with the Lower Clarence Junior Rugby League and later with the senior club, the Magpies.

He has served many hard-working seasons as club secretary and is the current Lower Clarence Rugby League Club president.

As well as her busy family life Jenny Anderson was heavily involved with the Lower Clarence Junior League Club, so much so that she has been awarded Life Membership of that body.

Jenny is also an above average lawn bowler wining club and district titles and representing Maclean Women's Bowling Club in pennants.

Jenny had followed the fortunes of her husband Peter with the Lower Clarence senior rugby league team in the days after junior rugby league had fallen by the wayside locally and she was soon to play a vital role in the revival and running of junior league in the area.

"Junior soccer was being played on the Lower Clarence by a lot of youngsters including our son Garry and his mates but most of them wanted to play rugby league," Jenny said.

"When Bill McCarron came to Lower Clarence from the Tweed River he was quick to ask: 'Where is your junior league?'

"He started to push the issue and a big meeting was held in Maclean which saw junior league's re-establishment."

Bill McCarron has been a president of the junior league and long time player and president of the senior Lower Clarence Rugby League and is a Life Member of both organisations.

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