THE club was born in 1928 and died in 1994. In between Taree Old Bar won eight post war Group Three Rugby League premierships including a record five consecutive titles from 1978-82.
The Lifesavers, as they were known, produced one dual international, Geoff Richardson, a NSW and Australian second rower Don Evenden and a Queensland representative, Ken Fogarty.
Now to mark what would have been the club’s 90th anniversary, there’ll be a reunion of past players, committee members and supporters planned for Taree Leagues Club on Saturday August 18.
This will include a function to be held in the afternoon, with the main event that night.
Taree Old Bar Surf Rugby League Club has held two full reunions – in 1983 and 1993. There have been a number of team gatherings, including one in 2008 to mark the 30th anniversary of the club’s 1978 triumph, so this year will be the 40th year since the Lifesavers beat Taree United 24-20 in the grand final, so ending a 32 year title drought. This was also the last time the two Taree-based clubs fought out a grand final. Taree Browns Creek won the first in 1951 while Taree United did the lap of honour and 1971 and 73 before Old Bar’s 1978 triumph.
The club’s colourful history includes being barred by the Country Rugby League in 1938 in the aftermath of a challenge match organised against Gloucester before a packed house at Taree Showground. The game never went ahead, Gloucester refusing to take the field to play an Old Bar side bolstered by members of the 1937 Kangaroo touring team and Newcastle representatives. Spectators demanded their money back but to no avail – the gatekeeper had decamped with the funds.
Taree Old Bar was barred following a CRL investigation, but returned after the World War II as Taree Old Bar Surf Football Club – as many players were also members of the Old Bar surf club.
One of the club's greats, halfback Tony Hinton, steered Old Bar to consecutive premierships in 1987 and 88. However, the years following were difficult in what was a tumultuous time for the code in Taree. A lack of players eventually saw Taree Old Bar withdraw from the Group Three competition in 1994 and despite some attempts to revive the club, it faded into history.
The August 18 function may well be the great club’s last hurrah. For further details contact Garry Betts on 0404 476 236.