WAY back in 1971 lock forward Max Coggan was named player of the match when Taree United squeezed past Taree Old Bar 44-8 in the Group Three Rugby League grand final.
Group Three was sponsored by the tobacco company, Phillip Morris in those days. So Coggan, a non smoker, received a carton of cigarettes as his prize for player of the match. He gave the smokes to his team-mates.
This was revealed when Coggan spoke to the Times earlier this year in an online feature that highlighted the 1971 triumph (and we'll be doing one on Taree Old Bar's breakthrough 1978 win next year). Coggan was one of the top players in Group Three during that era.
Even though the club is now defunct, United holds a Christmas Party/reunion each year at the Manning Hotel.
So in the spirit of better late than never, organisers and Coggan's former team-mates, Kev Hardy and Errol Ruprecht decided to ensure Coggan's effort was given a more deserving accolade. They organised to get a trophy made up and this was presented to him at the function last Saturday.
There were a few other members of the 71 side there as well, including Bernard Hogan, Harold Henry, John 'Bugs' Fatherley, Brian 'Toad' Noonan, Neil Whales and Brian Eakin, who was inducted into the Group Three Hall of Fame the previous night.
Coggan retired after United's win over Taree Old Bar in the 1973 grand final.