Visit to a true Manly Warringah Pioneer – Mervyn Gillmer

Northern Sydney Welfare Officers Norm Pounder and Ken Vessey paid a nice surprise on Merv, aged 92 years, when they visited him at the Manly Waters Private Hospital, Manly, where he is undergoing some treatment. Merv was pleasantly surprised by our unexpected visit especially when we produced a photo of him and his First Grade team mates in the 1947 Manly Warringah Rugby League Club team to compete in the NSW Rugby Football League Premiership First Grade competition for the first time.

We also had for him extracts from numerous Rugby League match programmes during 1947 – 1949 listing him as five-eight in First Grade teams for Manly Warringah with the likes of Max Whitehead (first Club Captain), Johnny Bliss, Mackie Campbell, A “Bert” Collins, Ern Gannon, Roy Bull, Gordon Willoughby and Ron O’Connell. We also showed him the match programme for the Club’s and his first game on the 12 April 1947, when they went down narrowly to Western Suburbs 15-13.

During those years he played a total of 21 First Grade games, scoring two tries and kicked 38 goals. As Merv examined these documents, memories from the past came rushing back as he smiled and laughed, telling us stories of his enjoyable playing days with Manly Warringah team. He told us in his early years he grew up in the Newtown area of Sydney, right opposite the gates to Henson Park and later he played his junior rugby league with the old Brookvale JRL Club before being graded with Manly Warringah. Today he is still a keen supporter of the Sea Eagles and whenever possible he loves to attend Brookvale Oval to watch his old Club colours run around the paddock.

Merv spoke lovingly of his wife Joyce, who he was sorry had not met us and his daughter Caroline. We told him we would like to stay in touch in the future and wished him a speedy recovery and continued good health. In return Merv thanked us for our call and for the many happy memories we had given to him through the visit and documents left with him.

Ken Vessey
Welfare Coordinator Northern Sydney Committee

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