Tim Pickup OAM – A modest sporting legend

Photo: Tim Pickup (far right, sitting) at the Northern Sydney Committee’s Christmas Kick Off Club 2016

Norm Pounder and Ken Vessey, Wellbeing Officers from the Northern Sydney Committee make many wellbeing visits during a year but visits to see Tim are rated very high. We had not visited Tim for a few months and rectified the situation recently when we revisited him at his abode in leafy Narrabeen.

Tim was looking forward to the outing with us down to the northern beaches area where we enjoyed a sandwich/coffee followed by a few drinks. He would have to be one of the most modest sportsmen you could possibly hope to meet.

As you can imagine, in no time at all, we were in deep conversation solving the problems of Australia and the world but it did not take long to be discussing rugby league issues including the 2017 NRL season, Rugby League World Cup and the state of the current game.

Naturally, we turned the conversation around onto Tim’s outstanding playing rugby league career as a junior player in 1959 through to first grader, NSW representative and Australian Kangaroo before retiring in 1979 due to a serious knee injury.

Born in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, he played in an undefeated Enfield Federals Junior Rugby League Club team for seven years, representing the Western Suburbs Club in the junior representative teams before his family moved across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Seaforth and the Wests Club refused to grant him a clearance to play in any other rugby league district but theirs. It is difficult to comprehend that Tim never played with the Wests Club as he was no doubt destine for success as a clever Five Eight.

So what did he do then , it is worth reading :

  • He tried out at the Manly Rugby Union Club in the late 1960s as a 17 year old Fly Half and was graded in first grade where he played for three seasons before going to England, playing for Blackpool RL Club in 1970-71;
  • He then received offers from several Sydney RL Clubs and selected North Sydney Bears RL Club where he played 52 first grade games from 1972-74; he was awarded Player of the Year in 1973 & 74;
  • During 1972-75 his representative career bloomed, playing six games for NSW, three games for City NSW, 11 games for Australia including as a member of the 1973 Kangaroos touring team to England/France;
  • In 1975, he accepted a generous five year contract from the Canterbury Bankstown RLF Club where during 1975-79 he played 47 first grade games
  • In 1976, he injured his knee in a World Cup game against France and missed most of that season playing limited first grade games before retiring in 1979;
  • In 1985, he was awarded as a Life Member of the Canterbury Bankstown RL Club;
  • Upon retiring from rugby league, he linked up with champion boxing trainer Johnny Lewis at the Newtown PCYC and was manager of Jeff Harding when he won the WBC World Light-Heavyweight title against all odds in 1989;
  • In 2000, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his outstanding services to Australian Sport;
  • 2002 saw him appointed to the Board of the Canterbury Bankstown RL Club to rectify matters after the salary cap scandal
  • Lastly, in 2006, he named in the North Sydney Bears Team of the Century and was a finalist for both the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 70 the Anniversary Team and the Manly Rugby Union Team of the Century .

I put one final question to Tim: “Who was the best Half Back you ever played with?” and without any hesitation, as before , he replied “Keith ‘Chicka’ Outten “ when they played together at the North Sydney Bears.

It was a real pleasure to meet this True Champion.

by Ken Vessey

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