Ian Sommer

Steve Ricketts

The Valleys Diehards’ rugby league faithful are mourning the loss of stalwart forward, Ian ‘Elke’ Sommer, who died suddenly on February 12, aged 68.

Sommer was vice-captain of the formidable 1979 premiership winning side, which defeated Souths 26-0 in the Brisbane grand final, at Lang Park, after finishing five points clear on the minor premiership ladder.

His second-row partner in the ’79 grand final was John McLeod, who went on to join Wests in Sydney the following season.

In 1980, Valleys welcomed Bryan Niebling to the club, and Sommer proved an ideal mentor for the young forward from Murgon, who would go on to play State of Origin for Queensland, and represent his country.

Sommer, who went to school at Camp Hill, and played his early football as a centre with Easts Carina, joined Valleys in 1975, and made his debut as a winger in reserve grade.

First grade coach, former Test forward, Henry Holloway, moved Sommer to the pack, and his career blossomed.

Sommer was a regular in Valleys’ first grade teams from 1977, until his retirement at the end of the 1981 season, the last with Ross Strudwick as captain-coach.

Sommer was active with Valleys’ Past Players and also was a member of the Kirra Beach Surf Life Saving Club Old Boys Association.

“Ian was heavily involved at Kirra, rowing in surf boats after he joined the club in 1968,” Kirra Old Boys foundation member, Ron Gurnett, who played second row in Valleys’ 1974 premiership winning side, said.

“‘Elke’ was one of those indestructible types, and his death has shaken us all to the core.”

Sommer is survived by his wife, Deb and children Brooke, Loren and Abby. His funeral service will be held in Intenciti Church, 287 Preston Road, Wynnum on Friday, February 21 at 10.30am.

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