John Rea recalls walking through bushland where Brothers Sports Club was built more than half a century ago with big plans on his mind.
Commencing as the inaugural Brothers Sports Club president on December 19, 1970, he has been instrumental in seeing the club become the successful, community-focused venue it is today.
Now, 51 years later, Brother Sports Club has paid homage to John’s dedication, service and hard work with the John Rea International Bar.
John celebrated his 80th birthday in October and with his mind as sharp as it was when he first joined Brothers sports committee as a young 25-year-old teacher, he shares his fond memories.
“I came to Bundaberg from teachers’ college and taught at South School – my father was principal at Yandaran, and I came here on family association,” John said.
“At the time the rugby club was just like every other country rugby league club – we’ve had some good players over the time including captain-coaches and a lot of growth.
“It was a time when the only sporting clubs in Queensland that were licenced were either bowls or golf clubs.
“We (as a rugby league club) would have to get a permit to hold an event because we weren’t licenced.
“So, when the club licence became available, we took the opportunity and became the first rugby league club in Queensland to be licenced.
“This was very well noted – we were the example and lots of clubs came to us for guidance.”
John said once the land, which was on the outskirts of town at the time, became available they jumped at the opportunity and development of the sports club started promptly.
John Rea makes sporting passion a family affair
The five decades of service at Brothers Sports Club came easy to John who, with his cheerful demeanour, said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I was involved as a player and joined the committee,” John said.
“I guess I was at the right place at the right time; it was fairly easy to say I had the right credentials at the right time as most of the older committee members were in their 70s and were retiring.
“I was a young guy – a teacher and I guess it was a good way to get out of the classroom for a couple of weeks each year!
“My two sons Tony and Michael were also influenced by the club, with Tony going on to play for Queensland and captain Northern Sydney. While Michael was the one to break my point scoring!
“Brothers is definitely about family.”
John stepped down from his role as vice president of Brothers Sports Club on October 6 this year after more than half a century of service.
He thanked his wife Rhonda, who he said had always played a significant role behind the scenes, and the committee for making his time at Brother Sports Club memorable.
“After 51 years of service I decided as everything was going along well that it was time to hand it over to someone younger,” he said.
“It has grown and grown over my time, and I know it is just going to keep getting better.”
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