IT’S an exclusive club as big as it is diverse. Alongside rugby league Immortals Clive Churchill and Andrew Johns and four-time world surfing champion Mark Richards, stands the likes of Gary Haberl, Marilyn Mills and Rick Duncan.
Chances are you may never have heard of the last three names but their achievements are more than worthy of recognition, which came courtesy of the Hunter Region Sporting Hall of Fame.
Haberl was an Olympian and Australian champion at table tennis. Mills was the national team captain in the little-known game of goal ball and a three-time Paralympian. Duncan was a world champion and Australian title winner in hang gliding.
Twelve more will join the hall of fame tomorrow at 10.30am at Souths Leagues Club, taking the membership beyond 315.
The people and the sports they represent cover a broad spectrum.
Hunter Academy of Sport chief executive Ken Clifford has been a driving force behind the hall of fame and said it had been a rewarding initiative for all involved.
Clifford said nominations were sought annually in August and September. To qualify, contenders must have represented Australia at the top level of their sport or be an individual Australian champion.
A committee including Hunter sports identities and officials Fenton Coull, Denis Broad, John ‘‘Choc’’ Anderson, John Fahey, Gary Screen, Mavis Randle, Ross Allen and Newcastle Herald editor Chad Watson examine the nominations..
Newcastle Museum houses profiles and photos of some of the hall of fame sportspeople, with Clifford saying there have been talks about extending the concept into Hunter Stadium.
This year’s inductees are:
PAUL CANNON (Motor racing)
Competing at Heddon Greta Speedway and Jerilderie Park Speedway at Tomago, Waratah-born Paul Cannon quickly made his mark in hot rod racing. He became so dominant that promoters made him start at the rear of the field in all of his events. In 1978 and 1979, Cannon won the Australian Speedway Hot Rod Championships.
ANTHONY EKERT (Rugby union)
Sydneysider Anthony Ekert attended the University of Newcastle from 1987 and 1992. He had an outstanding career for the University club, representing Newcastle, NSW Country, NSW, Australian Sevens and Australia. In 1991, he was selected to tour Argentina with the NSW team and within a year was a member of the Wallabies.
HEATH FRANCIS (Track and field)
The Booral product attended the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games, winning six gold, four silver and three bronze medals. He was the Australian Athlete with a Disability of the Year in 2006 and joint AIS Athlete of the Year in 2008.
BILL GARDNER (Rugby union)
William “Bill” Charles Gardner represented NSW in 1949 and played his one and only Test match the following year. Not normally a goal-kicker, the Wanderers fullback landed two penalties in a 17-6 loss to the British Lions.
HERB JEFFERSON (Motorcycle racing)
Lambton’s Herb Jefferson was a dominant figure in dirt track motorcycle racing in the 1960s. He won the 350cc Australian title each year from 1963 to 1966 and claimed the grand slam in ’66 of the 350cc, 500cc and unlimited championships. He won seven Australian titles.
SAM LAGUZZA (Lawn Bowls)
A prodigious title winner, Sam Laguzza represented Australia with distinction on 52 occasions. He also bowled for NSW a remarkable 349 times and was inducted into the Royal NSW Bowling Association John Young Hall of Fame in 2011. He was named the NSW Bowler of the Year in 1991 and the Newcastle Bowler of the Year three times.
TOBIE McGANN (Rugby union)
The Central Coast talent was selected in the Australian women’s team for the 2006 World Cup in Canada while playing with the Newcastle University club. She was part of Australia’s Sevens world championship win in 2009. In 2010 she played for Australia at the World Cup in England.
ERNIE PATFIELD (Rugby league)
Ernie Patfield was halfback and a founding father of the Newcastle Rebels team that played in the Sydney competition 1908-09. In 1909, he played for NSW then Australia against the New Zealand Maori in a game that was given Test status in 2004. He was a key player for Central Newcastle when they won the first-ever Newcastle rugby league premiership in 1910.
JOHN ROBERTS (Football)
Cessnock-raised goalkeeper John Roberts represented Australia against Chelsea twice in 1965 and was selected at the end of that year for the nation’s first venture in World Cup qualifying. Roberts took up an offer from Chelsea for a trial, after which he moved to Blackburn Rovers, Chesterfield, Bradford City, Burnley and Southend.
RONALD RUSS (Baseball)
Lake Macquarie pitcher Ron Russ was the first from the region to play baseball for Australia. Russ represented NSW at the national titles from 1957-1959 and gained Australian selection in 1958. In 1960, he was recruited by North Adelaide to play in the South Australia night baseball competition where he won the league’s best and fairest award four times. He was named in the Newcastle 75-year Dream Team.
JOHN WADE (Horse Racing)
A winner of 1144 races from 4463 rides, jockey John Wade claimed five Newcastle apprentices’ premierships and six senior titles on his home track. He is most famous as the rider for Newcastle racing great Luskin Star.
JUNE WALSH (Badminton)
June Walsh (nee Smailes) won the Australian junior singles championship in 1955 and was runner-up in the Australian open ladies singles in 1957. She won the Australian open ladies doubles in 1958 with June Turnbull and in 1961 and 1962 with June Bevan. She represented Australia against Indonesia and New Zealand in 1959 and against New Zealand again in 1963.
The list of past inductees:
ATHLETES WITH A DISABILTY: Garry Hooper, Bob Staddon, Joseph Walker
BADMINTON: June Bevan, June Carter, Jon Chin
BAREFOOT WATER SKIING: Garry Barton, Peter Wellham
BASKETBALL: Terry Charlton, John Gardiner, Melva Hancock, Denis Kibble
BOXING: Harry Collins, Les Darcy, Fred Henneberry, William Jones, Phil McElwaine, William Morgan, Neville Rincheval, Dave Sands, Patrick Slavin, William Squires, Ken Stamford, Hector Thompson, Lyn Truscott, Robert Whitelaw
BOARD SAILING: Grant Long
CAR RACING: Tony Pryor
CRICKET: Sarah Andrews, Arthur Chipperfield, Belinda Clark, Grahame Corling, Alan Davidson, Jim De Courcy, Gary Gilmour, Sally Griffiths, Robert Holland, Charles Macartney, Rick McCosker, Johnny Martin, Arthur Morris, Ray Robinson, Doug Walters, John Watkins, Paul Wilson
CRICKET AND HOCKEY: Muriel Picton, Hazel Ronay
CYCLING: Craig Chapman, Ian Chapman, Olivia Gollan, Margaret Hemsley, Robert Ryan, John Tresidder
EQUESTRIAN: Kevin Bacon, John Fahey, Bridget MacIntyre, John Mackay Snr, John Mackay Jnr, Laurie Morgan
FENCING: Alwyn Wardle
FOOTBALL: Cliff Almond, George Arthur, Ray Baartz, John Barr, Alex Cameron, Norman Conquest, Bill Coolahan, Frank Coolahan, Clarrie Coutts, Colin Curran, Reg Date, Peter Doyle, Jack Evans, Alison Forman, Jack Gilmore, Ron Giles, Arch Harris, Alex Heaney, Jack Hughes, Ron Hughes, Graham Jennings, Allan Johns, E (Dick) Kemp, Jack Lennard, Percy Lennard, David Lowe, Jim McNabb, Roy McNaughton, Bill Mahoney, William Maunder, Billy Morgan, Bruce Morrow, Jack O’Brien, Kevin O’Neill, Tom Oliver, James Osborne, W (Ernie) Owen, Hedley Parkes, Jack (Jock) Parkes, Frank Parsons, John Pettigrew, Alfred Quill, William Rorke, Cheryl Salisbury, Danielle Small, Peter Stone, Doug Wendt, James Wilkinson, Shelley Youman
FORMULA 500: Grahame Baxter
GOAL BALL: Marilyn Mills
GOLF: Phillip Billings, Billy Dunk, Gayle Gannon, Marea Hickey, Colin Johnston, Dayle Linnerston-Marshall, Jack Newton
HANG GLIDING : Rick Duncan, Kelvin Smith
HARNESS RACING: Dick Osborn
HORSE RACING: Max Lees, Ted Bartle, Stanley Davidson, Wayne Harris, Rae Johnstone, James Pike, Arthur Shanahan
HOCKEY: MIchelle Andrews, Debbie Beckett, Ray Clarke, Olga Corrigan, Paul Dearing, Bev Dyet, Barbara Farrell, Nancye Fennell, Chris Fernance, Isobel Heath, Robyn Leggatt, Brooke Morrison, Lisa Naughton, Julie Towers, Kristen Towers, Colleen Quinn, Joan Walter, Ray Wright
LAWN BOWLS: Michelle Andrews, Debbie Beckett, Ray Clarke, Olga Corrigan, Paul Dearing, Bev Dyet, Barbara Farrell, Nancye Fennell, Chris Fernance, Isobel Heath, Robyn Leggatt, Brooke Morrison, Lisa Naughton, Julie Towers, Kristen Towers, Colleen Quinn, Joan Walter, Ray Wright
LAWN BOWLS: Nancy Childs, Fay Craig, Dave Downie, Helen Embleton, Terry McCabe, Charles McNeill, Darby Ross, Barry Salter, Eve Wilcher
MARTIAL ARTS: Greg Cairns, Ross Murphie
MOTOR RACING: Ron Pyne, Lloyd Thorley, George Watson
MOTORCYCLING: Keith Davies, Vic Duggan, Robert Jones, Wilfred Lamont, Chris Watson, Todd Wiltshire
NETBALL: Alison Broadbent, Lois Green, Nola Green
PROFESSIONAL RUNNING: Robert Watson
ROWING: Kyrsten Winkley
RUGBY LEAGUE: Don Adams, Ned Andrews, Ron Bailey, William Bailey, Gary Banks, Allan Buman, Brian Carlson, Stan Carpenter, Arthur Collinson, John Cootes, Clive Churchill, Les Dawson, Keith Froome, Alf Gibbs, Jim Gibbs, Matthew Gidley, Charlie Gill, Johnny Graves, Paul Harragon, Jack Hutchinson, Andrew Johns, Les Johns, Matthew Johns, Bobby Lulham, Jim Morgan, Edmund Lumsden, Ken Maddison, Robert Majoribanks, Col Maxwell, Herb Narvo, Andy Norval, Bill Owen, Terry Pannowitz, Albert Paul, Dave Parkinson, Noel Pidding, Wally Prigg, Ron Roberts, Mark Sargent, John Sattler, Don Schofield, Frank Stanmore, Allan Thomson, Laurie Ward
RUGBY UNION:Neil Adams, Cyril Burke, Terry Casey, Dick Cocks, Terry Curley, Ben Darwin, Ron Harvey, John Hipwell, Peter Horton, Sydney Malcolm, Ron Meadows, Steve Merrick, Herbert Moran, Richard Tooth, Keith Walsham
RUGBY UNION & RUGBY LEAGUE: Phillip Hawthorne, Geoff Richardson, Dominic Vaughan, Patrick Walsh
RIFLE SHOOTING: Donald Brook
ROWING: Ben Thoroughgood, George Towns, Richard Tresidder
SAILING: Colin Humphreys, Douglas Reid
SNOOKER: Eddie Charlton
SOFTBALL: Linda Ward, Natalie Ward
SPEEDBOAT RACING: Ken Warby
SQUASH: Owen Parmenter
SURFING: Mark Richards, Mark Sainsbury
SURF LIFESAVING: Barry Arms, Harry Clark, Sean Davis, Jeffrey Dawson, Scott Derwin, Doug Ellercamp, Peter Ellercamp, Michael Jones, Leslie Lazurus, Bill McIntosh, Cliff Marsh, Kenneth Murray, Bob Newbiggin, Hec Scott, Noel Smith, Claude C Ward
SWIMMING: Beverley Bainbridge, Lynette Bell, Peter Coughlan, Barbara Evans, Sonya Gray, Kevin Hallett, Harry Hay, John Hayres, Marguerite Jenkins, Gwen Millard, Justin Norris, Donna Proctor, Peter Reynolds, Ken Sever, Brian Wilkinson
TABLE TENNIS: Gary Haberl
TENNIS: Peter Doohan, Rachel McQuillan, Christine O’Neil
TEN PIN BOWLING: Barbara Ward
TOUCH: Gai Taylor
TRACK AND FIELD: Mary Breen, Linda Garden, Kevan Gosper, June Heath, Carolyn Lewis, Dianne Pease, David Power, Warren Ryan, Janet Tully, Erica Willis
TRAMPOLINING: Brett Austine
WEIGHTLIFTING: Gerald Hay, Greg Hayman, Charles Henderson, John Powell, Arthur Shannos, Jerry Shannos
YACHTING: Albert Burgin, Ben Lexcen