by Pam McKay
RUGBY LEAGUE: Russell Vea Vea has so many fond memories of his 15-year playing career with the Fitzroy Rugby League Club (now the Fitzroy-Gracemere Sharks).
But most special was his A-grade debut as a 19-year-old in 1969.
"I normally played five-eighth but coach Bobby Jones told me I would be playing second row that day,” he recalls.
"I'd never played there before. He just told me to go and tackle and that's what I did and we got the win against Railways.”
Fitzroy was one of the Rockhampton Rugby League's foundation clubs and celebrates its centenary this year.
Vea Vea and club members, past and present, will get the chance to share their recollections when the Fitzroy Old Boys Committee stages a dinner to mark the milestone at the Rockhampton Jockey Club on Friday, October 13.
Guest speakers on the night will be Queensland and Australian rugby league player Jason Hetherington, renowned jockey Mal Johnston and Queensland cricketer Dennis Schiller.
A Fitzroy Team of the Century and a Fitzroy Indigenous Team of the Century will also be named on the night.
Vea Vea said people were travelling from as far afield as the Northern Territory and South Australia to attend the event, which promises to be a wonderful occasion.
Fitzroy won 17 A-grade premierships, three of them on the trot from 1952-54. It also boasts the remarkable achievement of going through the season undefeated to claim the 1953 and 1986 titles.
Vea Vea said club spirit and comradeship were a feature of the club.
"We always played with plenty of passion,” he said. "We might not have had the best side but we never took a backward step.
"My father and my uncle both played for Fitzroy. My brothers played as well and I just followed their lead, more or less.
"I won a few premierships. I was very fortunate to have played with a lot of good players who made me look good,” Vea Vea said.
The club also produced a number of Queensland and Australian representatives and continues to be a breeding ground for young talent.
Tickets for the dinner, which starts at 5pm, are $50 a person. They are on sale from the Red Lion Hotel, 138 Denham St, or through Russell Vea Vea 0422058539 or Sid Volling on 49279121.