Western Suburbs Red Devils – Milestones
How is this for a team?
From fullback Garry Jack (21 Tests), David Waite (6 Tests), John Dorahy (2 Tests), Allan Maddalena (3 games for NSW), Brett Stewart (1 Test), Bob Fulton capt (35 Tests, Immortal, Team of the Century), Graeme Lye ( 1969 Australian tour of New Zealand), Glenn Stewart (5 Tests), Peter Peters (member of Manly’s 1973 Premiership winning first grade Grand Final team), Jason Ryles (15 Tests), Bruce Olive (9 games for NSW), Royce Ayliffe (1 Test), Steve Roach (20 Tests). Reserves Brian Hetherington (2 State of Origin games for NSW), Brett Rodwell (1 State of Origin game for NSW), Beau Ryan, Jason Hastings, Michael Bolt, Keith Rugg, Steve Topper, Rod Henniker.
Some of these men were selected out of position but they have all played some football with the Western Suburbs Red Devils club in the Illawarra competition. Nowadays the club is known as the Wests Devils.
Tomorrow, Saturday 1 August, is a special day for the Devils as Klaus Reh’s record of 221 first grade matches for the club will be broken by his youngest son, Greg Reh. Now 34, Greg will play his 222nd first grade game for Wests at Parrish Park against Thirroul.
The Reh family have been involved with the club for 50 years or so. Klaus, now 67, played in six first grade Premiership winning Grand Finals with the Devils in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1978, 1980 and 1981. On 30 June 1974, he played for Illawarra in their tight 24-22 loss to Great Britain.
Oldest son, Matt is now 40 and is the current President of the Wests Senior club. Matt played in over 100 first grade games for the Devils, while the middle brother, Brad, 37, also played close to the same number of games. Brad also represented NSW Country under 19s and is the current President of the Wests Junior club.
Greg, or Buster as he is known, started with the Devils under 7s in 1987. A few years later, he had established himself as a regular Illawarra junior representative and in 1997, along with future Test forward, Jason Ryles, was a member of the Wests under 18 Premiership winning team. The next year Greg made his first grade debut and in 18 seasons he has built a reputation as one of the Illawarra competition’s best players. He has been a member of three Illawarra Premiership winning first grade teams, as well as winning six Country Divisional Championships with Illawarra. In 2007 and 2008, he represented Country Firsts.
In 1999, Klaus and his wife Pat were thrilled when their three sons played several first grade matches together. In 1993, Matt won the award as Wests most outstanding junior, while in 1996, Greg took the same trophy.
This year the Devils first grade side, who were in second position after 11 games, are coached by Jason Ryles with some assistance from Klaus’ son-in-law, Peter McLeod. Peter is married to Klaus’ daughter, Brooke.
The involvement of the Reh family doesn’t end with this generation. In 2015, three of Klaus’ grandsons are playing with the junior club and the coaches of the under 13s are Matt and his father, Klaus.
The Devils have won 15 Illawarra first grade Premierships since their first in 1957. Some big names in our game have coached the Wests firsts over the years and many of these guided the club to Premierships. These men include Don Parish (3 Tests), Warren Ryan, Paul Sait (16 Tests), Tommy Bishop (talented Great Britain halfback and Cronulla coach in the 1973 Grand Final), and current St. George/Illawarra coach, Paul McGregor (4 Tests).
In September 1964, 16 year old Bob Fulton, along with other teenagers Peter Peters and Allan Maddalena, starred in the Wests youthful reserve grade team, who won the Premiership.
PHOTO: Matt, Greg and Brad Reh together in 1998 at Thirroul’s Gibson Park, when Greg made his first grade debut for the Devils as a 17 year old.
Article by Barry Ross.