It is often stated “that Rugby League forges lifetime friendships “and that statement was proven again recently when Wellbeing Officers Bobby McCarthy M.B.E and Ken Vessey had the pleasure of visiting Joe (Dib) Younis and his family recently at his home. In the 1950’s Joe and Bobby both grew up in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern, were schoolmates at the St.Peters Catholic School in Surry Hills and naturally played rugby league for the school teams. This School is unique in that as well as producing one of our country’s most accomplished rugby league players in Bobby McCarthy, it also had the honour of shaping students who would go on to represent Australia including Bernie Purcell, Keith Holman, Dicky Poole, Benny Wearing and Jack Troy.
Joe is living with a serious lung disease “Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis”. Since childhood he told us he had always been an avid supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Club, having grown up a stone throw away from Redfern Oval the home of the Rabbitohs. He played junior league for the local Redfern United Rugby League Club and played a number of lower grade matches for the Rabbitohs. His loving wife of 54 years Anne told us that in their courting days she quickly learnt that on Sundays, they would be attending Redfern Oval if the Rabbitohs were playing there.
Over the years that practise continued as their family grew with the birth of daughters Joanne, Carolyn and sons Steve and Jeffrey and their families when they would travel to the Rabbitohs games, no matter where.
Recently son Steve had submitted an enquiry through the Men of League Foundation website to see if it might be possible, to lift his Dad’s spirits. He asked if Joe’s past schoolmate Bobby McCarthy could pay a visit to see Joe at his home. Without any hesitation, Bobby expressed his willingness to be part of any visit and a wellbeing visit was quickly arranged. Joe on the day of the visit was told by his wife Anne that a new doctor was coming to see him. My words cannot adequately describe the jubilation on Joe’s face when he instead saw Bobby walk into his lounge room and re-introduced himself. Needless to say, Bobby and I were welcomed warmly by Joe, Anne and the several family members present and it was emotional to witness their overall joy of having Bobby there.
As you can imagine during our visit the talk was about their school days together all those years ago and Joe’s experiences supporting the South Sydney Rugby League team, including recalling Bobby’s remarkable career and loyalty to South Sydney Rugby League Club. Other topics of discussion included reliving the South Sydney exclusion years, the Sydney Town Hall protest march and final reinstatement. Attending the 1965 Grand Final victory by South’s where due to a capacity crowd, Joe was only able to take one step inside the entry to the turnstiles and listen to the roar of the crowd.
In 1971 whilst Anne was in hospital having just given birth to their second child, Joe was at the Sydney Cricket Ground watching his beloved Rabbitohs win their 20th Premiership and in 2014 after 43 years between winning a Premiership, he was able with his whole family to attend the Grand Final, to witness and experience the joy of a Rabbitoh’s victory.
The visit was truly a memorable experience that Bobby and I will never forget. We thanked Joe, Anne and their Family for their friendship and generosity to the Men of League and we presented Joe with a Men of League polo shirt/cap and wished him all the best.