From muck around to legend
By TONY WHITE
IT started out with a group of mates getting together on Saturday morning's for a friendly game of touch football.
Twenty years on, it has turned into a tradition.
Last Saturday past and present players, one even travelling from Sydney, gathered at the Grafton High School sport grounds to commemorate the anniversary with a game of touch footy followed by celebrations at the Jacaranda Hotel.
The social aspect and camaraderie have always reigned supreme in this mix of people from all walks of life ? bank managers, lawyers, solicitors, council workers, railway men, teachers, plumbers, accountants, business managers, carpenters, doctors and labourers.
Since its inception in the 1980s over 300 players aged from 12 to 60-year-old's have taken part, many still known by their nick names like The Axe, Thugsby, Loui, Bazz, Gazza and Wally.
Local identities Peter Cairns, Tom and Jim Fitzpatrick, Herb Duroux, Darryl Austin, Tony Wells, Avery Brown, Royce Wilson and John Ryan have run around with their mates since the game started.
Other current and former regulars include Peter Attwater, Barry Livermore, Steve Llewellyn, Gary Williams, Barry Bartley, Mike McCarthy, Doug Hughes, John Marshall, Darryl Perry, Tony Muller and Daily Examiner general manager, Steve Portas.
The gathering can attract anywhere from six to 20 play- ers with Peter 'The Axe' Cairns refereeing.
"Some love him, some hate him," Tom Fitzpatrick said tongue in cheek of 'The Axe.' "It's a pretty social sort of game but some like to still take it pretty seriously.
"Most of us are getting a bit long in the tooth but we're still running around chasing the young whipper snappers.
"There's one new bloke who always seems to turn up late when the old blokes are getting tired. He's pretty quick anyhow but delights in the chance to run around us when we're flagging.
"Some of us used to get together for a few beers after the game but theses days I head straight home to bed because I'm knackered. It damn near kills you," Fitzpatrick laughed.