Both Bob Degan and Ron Lalor have both had a tough time with illness recently. At the time of the visit, Ron had only come home from Woy Woy Rehabilitation the previous day.
Men of League Foundation Wellbeing Officers Ken Vessey (Northern Sydney) and Warren Thompson (Sydney Metro) have been mates with both men for over sixty years. All four played for Chelsea United in South Sydney Juniors.
Bob Degan was a versatile player with the ability to play in a variety of positions, however in the early 1960s he starred for South Sydney reserve grade team at five eight.
Bob had the ability to play first grade for the Rabbitohs and at the time of leading the club best player awards, he broke his leg.
He then played under renowned coach Clem Kennedy. Bob was a standout creative member of the Kingsford Metropolitan Cup team.
After moving to the Central Coast, Bob was a very welcome addition to the Wyong Club, giving the first grade side the benefit of his skillful and clever ability to create opportunities for his teammates. The coach of the Wyong first grade team was Denis Smith, the current Tuggerah Lakes Committee President.
Ron Lalor has been a South Sydney man all his life. After finishing his playing days with Chelsea, he was a well respected official for many years with the NSW Athletic League and like Bob, moved to the Central Coast and officiated with the Umina Bunnies Rugby League Club.
As the official starter for professional running, Ron is fondly remembered in many NSW country towns immaculately dressed, getting the runners on their marks and firing the starters pistol.
Many of the pro runners were rugby league players and Ron was in charge of some great champions like the speedsters Ken Irvine and Mike Cleary. It was a period of extremely fast runners with Nick Yakich (Manly), and Reg Hatton (Newtown and Penrith) and the Parramatta wingers Dave Irvine and Arch Brown providing excitement for the crowds wherever they competed.
The four men enjoyed the hospitality of Ron’s devoted wife Lyn and talked of those great days over lunch at Ron and Lyn’s home in Umina. Central Coast Wellbeing Officers Denis Culpan and Les Pearce have assisted Bob in the past and he is very grateful for their help. We will keep in touch with Ron and Bob.
Before leaving we presented Men of League Foundation polo shirts and caps to these great rugby league men and old mates of many years.
By Warren Thompson, Sydney Metro Committee
Photo: L-R – (sitting) Ron Lalor, Bob Degan, (standing) Lyn Lalor, Warren Thompson