Alf Bawden and Nev Callaghan talk about old times and the Fitzroys club medal Alf won as “best and fairest” player from 1950-80.
Alf Bawden and Nev Callaghan talk about old times and the Fitzroys club medal Alf won as “best and fairest” player from 1950-80. Chris Ison

League is for life says Callaghan

NEV Callaghan might not be at the peak of fitness anymore but a mention of rugby league and his face lights up as he is prepared to talk for hours on the topic.

The passion still burns for the game he loves and Friday evening's launch of the Capras was an opportunity to indulge and surround himself with people he has respected over the years.

"Football has always been the greatest game in the world to me," he said.

Callaghan enjoyed a highly successful business career but when it comes to regrets in his lifetime it is one from football that heads his list.

"I retired too early, when I was 24, as I couldn't afford to get hurt," he said.

Nevertheless, his love for the Fitzroys club remains strong, resulting in him initiating the Viv Kerr/Lou Jahnke Medal for the "Best and Fairest".

The medal was introduced last year after Callaghan was awarded life membership of Fitzroys.

"This was an honour and so we felt we had to do something in return," he said.

The sport already has the Ollie Howden Medal and Nev sees that as the most prestigious in the local game and so a medal for performance in his chosen club was decided upon.

After discussions with club committee members it was decided to name the medal after two loyal club men, Kerr and Jahnke.

"They used to work at the wharf," Callaghan beamed.

"They used to call themselves 'cargo-ologists'."

Once it was agreed a medal should be struck a decision was made to honour club players from the past and this turned out to be far more difficult than it had originally sounded.

Thirty years is a long time when some fine footballing talent has gone through a club and Callaghan said it meant a lot of research.

Players of the calibre of Ray Neilson, Ian Thinee, Bob Jones, Paul Krause, Alf Bawden, George Williams, Rod Kerr, Ivan Upkett, Jackie Barnes and many others were scrutinized before a panel ultimately selected Bawden as the winner for 1950-1980.

"The 'Little master' Cyril Connell said Alf and Bob Banks were the best players to come from the area," Callaghan said.

"He said Alf read the game better but Bob was the better player.

"I thought Alf was a brilliant player and has got to be one of the best we've produced."

The 1980-2010 period was also tough to select but in the end it was a unanimous verdict with Stuey White getting the nod.

The first of the modern era went to promising youngster Dean Strang and Callaghan hopes the medal will act as an incentive to continue improving his game.

Following the 2011 season the future of Callaghan's Fitzroys/Gracemere club hung in the balance but after recent committee and coaching appointments the football stalwart is satisfied his club has an exciting future.

"They will be back," he promised.

Callaghan is also confident the Capras will succeed as it has gone back to basic ideals.

"Loyalty," he said.

"Money had taken over. I think the Capras are on the right track and I hope they get the (community) support."



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