A rugby league fanatic who spent half a century dedicated to the sport has been honoured for his obsession.
Ross McLean Hamilton has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his service to rugby league.
“I was a bit embarrassed,” Mr Hamilton admitted.
“There could be a lot of other people in various spheres of life that deserve things like this and are not recognised. But I certainly appreciate it and will accept it.”
He has been involved in the sport in the Inverell area for over 50 years.
“I played juniors, but I was never any good,” he laughed.
He still remembers winning the reserve grade grand final in 1958 against Glen Innes on a protest, two weeks before his wedding.
“When I came back from the honeymoon, the president of Inverell Rugby League saw me and asked me if I’d take on the secretary job,” he said.
He’d just begun working for the Inverell Council, and was unsure about the new commitment at first. He was the secretary from 1959-1979 and a committee member from 1980.
Mr Hamilton is a lifetime member of the Inverell Rugby League Club, Group 4, Group 5, Northern Division and Country Rugby League.
“I’ve covered the whole state, in a sense, and interstate; and you meet some wonderful people,” Mr Hamilton said.
“I was lucky that I got an initiation into football administration from a few fellas. Names that come to mind, they’re all deceased; there was Jack Cameron from Armidale and Frank Carroll, Guyra and Perry Jones, Moree, Jim Sharp, Gunnedah.”
Every Saturday and Sunday for 38 years, Mr Hamilton was a radio announcer for football and rugby league. His area included Tenterfield, Werris Creek, Gunnedah, Narrabri, Wee Waa and “all points in between”. “It’s been a fair innings,” he said.
He was also a familiar voice on the local horse racing scene, working as the racecourse announcer of bookmaker betting fluctuations for the Inverell Jockey Club from 1970-2014.
Mr Hamilton was also proud of his 16 years on the board for the Inverell Hospital and eight years with the Apex Club.