Drover life membership hails heros

LIFE TIME LOVE:Alan and Jocelyn Austin (Left) were presented their life membership award of the Drovers  by club president Mike Austin and wife Debbie.
LIFE TIME LOVE:Alan and Jocelyn Austin (Left) were presented their life membership award of the Drovers by club president Mike Austin and wife Debbie.

WALLACE Gunthorpe is the type of man who leads from the front.

The farmer from Banana, the founding president of the Dawson Valley Drovers, was honoured with life membership for his commitment to starting the club.

Gunthorpe, who said the Drovers started after the Wallabies World Cup win in 1991, was one of the driving forces behind the amazing debut season that saw them reach the major semi-final and miss a grand final by three points.

“There was an energy to get a country club going,” the 55-year-old said.

Gunthorpe, club boss for the first three years, said the role was time-consuming, but a lot of players and behind-the-scenes people gave much as well.

“You can’t have a club without good people.

“We gave 100% – there was a lot of enthusiasm.

“I went to training as I wanted to lead from the front – we have players doing a 300km round trip for training.

“It’s amazing how well we did given the lack of preparation (in starting the club).

“There was an amazing spirit,” the Drovers founding figure said.

He paid tribute to founding secretary Paula McDonald, and classy players such as the four McDonald brothers and the Wagner brothers.

“Then there are the reliable players such as Kent Williams who never missed training – a team’s only as good as those fellows.”

Gunthorpe has had little involvement with the club since he left the top job, calling himself an all-or-nothing man.

“It was a good journey and we gave it (Rockhampton competition) a good shake.”

The founding Drovers supremo was proud when the club won premierships early this century.

“I got a bit of satisfaction that I had a hand in starting all that,” Gunthorpe said.

Alan and wife Jocelyn Austin were also honoured with life membership.

The couple’s involvement started by just supporting their son who started playing for the Drovers in 1995, but their involvement grew.

Jocelyn helped out for years at the canteen and bar, while Alan became vice-president and was president from 2003-2007, during which time the club won three premierships in-a-row.

Austin, a Baralaba farmer, was a modest recipient, calling it a “real honour” but stating there were other stalwarts who had done more than he had for the Drovers.

He did agree with Gunthorpe on the club’s spirit.

“They had mateship and determination – the heart that country boys have,” he said.

“The spirit of the Drovers is why they play so well,” Austin said.

And judging by their presidents, that Drovers’ spirit starts at the top.

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