THE first four members of the Group Three Rugby League Hall of Fame have been inducted.
A crowd of nearly 200 attended the evening held at the Wingham Services Club to induct Kevin Hardy, Wally Sneddon, Warren Kimberley and Tony Paskins into the hall of fame. All four attended, with Sneddon, who is 87, travelling from Queensland with his wife and son.
His association with football here started in the 1940s. After a one season stint with South Sydney he returned to Taree in 1951 where he captain-coached Old Bar to the grand final, only to be beaten by Taree Browns Creek. After retiring as a player he turned to refereeing and controlled a City-Country Seconds game at the SCG as well as Country championship divisional games, matches between Country divisions and touring international sides as well as grand finals at a local level. As a coach he guided Wauchope to the 1969 Group Three premiership.
Kimberley played more than 200 games for Wauchope where he also coached. He became involved in club and group administration while still playing and is a past president and vice president of the Country Rugby League. He remains a patron of the CRL.
Hardy was a member of the Taree United side of 1971 that won the club's maiden first grade premiership. After a season with Newcastle Western Suburbs he returned to United in 1973 as captain-coach and guided the Greens to titles in 1973, 74 and 77 along with the 1978 grand final, making him one of the most successful coaches in Group Three history. He later coached Group Three and North Coast, taking the 1983 North Coast side to the Country championship final. He has been a member of the Group Three management committee since 1985 and remains a vice president.
Paskins moved to Forster-Tuncurry in 1967 after a stellar career in England and Australia. He took over as captain-coach of the Hawks in 1968 and guided the side to premierships in that year and in 1970 along with the 1969 grand final. The 1968 side is rated as one of the best to play in this area.
Former international Danny Buderus attended the evening. Buderus started his career in the Group Three juniors before heading to Newcastle. He outlined some of the highlights of his footballing days with the Knights and also what the future holds post rugby league.
Newcastle five-eighth Jarrod Mullen, who also played his early football in Taree, was another special guest. However, he had to make a rushed trip back to Newcastle to attend an early morning training session with the Knights.
Group Three president Wayne Bridge confirmed that there will be at least two inductions into the hall of fame every year. The 2014 induction will be held in December.