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Forty-four years, and still going strong

The Bugle App

Malin Dunfors

28 June 2024, 10:00 PM

Forty-four years, and still going strongMichael Tierney down at the Chittick Oval on Saturday June 22

He’s a Kiama legend.

Some of his early team mates players - now grown-up men in their forties - still call him “Mister.” 

But Michael Tierney, who’s been volunteering with the Kiama Knights Rugby League Football Club for the last 44 years, doesn’t make a fuss.


“It’s not about me,” Tierney said. “It’s about the kids who want to play footy.”

On most weekends, you’ll find him down at the Kiama Showground or the Chittick Oval, helping out.  This Saturday is no different. Around 10:30am, Tierney will take on the ground manager’s job.

“That’s fine, I’ll do that for three or four games. And then, I’ll leave,” he chuckles. “You gotta have a break, sooner or later.” 

Kiama born and bred

“I don’t do as much as now as I used to. But then again, I’m 74,” Tierney said.. Born at the hospital at the top end of town, and having spent most of his life here, Kiama is in his blood.

Having volunteered for more than 40 years, he hopes to continue. Who would have thought when a mate of Tierney’s offered him the gig of a manager? 

“I said, yeah - I’ll do it but I had no idea what I was doing. But anyway, it just kept escalating from that,” he says.

Tierney won’t forget the very first team that he managed.

“The coach had the boys lined up. He introduced them, and I’m thinking, ‘How in Christ’s name am I going to remember all these kids’ names?” 

The boys in the Under 7s team were all blonde and about the same height.

Eventually he knew every single name.

Simple as that

“They’re in their forties now, most of them still call me ‘Mister.’ I don’t need to be called that. But it’s, I suppose, a sign of respect,” Tierney reflects.

“Doesn’t matter where you go, if you run into them, they’ll all stop and have a chat. If you’re at the club having a beer, they’ll stop and have a beer.”

“People don’t realise the amount of friendships you make out of a club like this. I’ve made a lot of friends here in Kiama but I’ve also made friends managing the rep side, whether it be Bathurst or Singleton.

Tierney has not only been involved with the Kiama junior league but also on the junior and senior rep side along with the Southern Division. 

The CRL (Country Rugby League) awarded him the Centenary medal in 2008, he was the finalist for CRL’s One Community Award in 2010 and Kiama Council awarded him the Australia Day Sports Award in 2011.

But, Tierney says, “It’s not about the pats on the back that you get. It’s about seeing kids play the game that they want to play, and the future – it’s all in their hands. The rewards are what they put in.” 

The next generation

The only positions that he hasn’t held at the club are those of president and treasurer.

“I just do it because I want to. I’ll admit, I’ve had several people in my life who have encouraged me to continue on with it. One of them was my grandmother when she was alive. She always said, ‘whatever you’re enjoying, just stick with it’,“ recalls Tierney.

Nowadays, he enjoys seeing the new generation of volunteers coming through.

“At the minute, we got some very good people involved with the club who go above and beyond. I take my hat off to them because not only are they involved with this club, they still work with the senior league. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to put out there for very little reward.

“Without those people wanting to do it, the club wouldn’t exist.”

Tierney will soon start his shift as a ground manager. Stepping outside, he points to the sky: “Look!” Across a charcoal-coloured sky, heavy with rain, spans the brightest of rainbows.

It's another good day at the club.