By Ken Vessey
It is a pleasure when one meets anyone who has given rugby league so much thorough out their life and asked for little in return. This certainly was the case when Northern Sydney Wellbeing Officers Norm Pounder, Fred Jackson and I called into see Grahame Simmons for a chat.
During our visit, we were pleased to hear about Grahame’s involvement with the great game of rugby league. As a youngster in the 1940’s-1950’s, he grew up in the inner city suburbs of Glebe and Ryde, where rugby league was the game played on the streets and parks by all the kids. He played for the Glebe Police Boys junior rugby league club where he honed his skills as a classy centre plus the ability to defend himself.
During his playing career he also played with the strong Alexandria Rovers junior rugby league club in 1959 in the Public Service Domain competition with the Town Hall team, which boosted many graded players. Then in 1966, with the victorious Balmain District rugby league Presidents Cup team, Grahame played lower grades for the Balmain District rugby league club in 1963, 1967-1968 and in 1969 with the highly competitive 2nd Division Ryde Eastwood rugby league club.
When his playing days were over, he turned his skills to coaching in the Balmain District with the Holy Cross Rhinos junior rugby league club from 1978, coaching the Under 20’s for three years, before his role changed to Coaching Director for five years in the 1990’s, plus Vice-President during 1990-1998. He also coached the Balmain District S.G.Ball representative team for five seasons, including winning the competition in 1982.
These wonderful accomplishments were rewarded by being made a Life Member of both the Balmain District junior rugby league club and the Holy Cross Rhinos junior rugby league clubs. It was interesting to listen to the conversation between he and Norm, as they recalled playing against one another in Balmain vs Manly Warringah games.
Sadly, Grahame’s wife Heather passed away some years ago and he is very proud of his two daughers, son-in-law and their five grandchildren (four granddaughters and one grandson – who plays junior rugby league for the Mona Vale junior rugby league club).
We presented Grahame with a Men of League Foundation polo shirt for his outstanding contribution to rugby league and in return he was thankful for the gift and our visit.