THEY'RE best mates. They both love photography. And now they're both life members of Wingham Rugby League Club, as are their husbands.
Sharelle Lewis and Tanya Atkins were awarded life membership at Wingham's recent presentation.
Rugby league is a family affair for both. Tanya has been going to the footy for as long as she can remember and has been a Wingham Tiger ever since her dad, Ron 'Rocka' Humphries switched from Taree Old Bar to the Tigers. Rocka and Tanya's husband, Troy, are also life members. All her children, Tyler, Brooke, Josh and Nash play for Wingham - on one occasion all four represented the Tigers on the one afternoon.
Sharelle's husband, Paul, is also a long serving Tiger as a player, captain-coach, coach and committee member. It was largely through Paul's involvement with the club that Sharelle came on board. Their three sons, Cooper, Fletcher and Harry have all donned the black and gold jumper.
When not serving in the canteen on game days, Sharelle and Tanya can usually found on the sidelines taking action shots of the Wingham games. It's a passion they share.
Neither can see the day when they won't be going to the footy. It's almost part of their DNA.
From cheer leader to life member
RUGBY league has been a dominant factor in Tanya Atkins' life for as long as she can remember.
Her dad, Ron 'Rocka' Humphries, played first with Taree Old Bar in the Group Three competition before moving to the Wingham Tigers, where he is an institution.
"From when I was little I was going to the football,'' Tanya, now 52, explained.
"Dad switched to Wingham and we started following the Tigers.
"I think I might have even been a cheer leader back in the early 1980s.''
Tanya has gone from cheer leader to life member. Her life membership was announced at Wingham's recent presentation. Rocka's also a life member, as is Tanya's husband, Troy, a long-term player and former coach.
When Rocka retired as a player he joined the committee, so Tanya kept going to the games. She started going out with Troy when he was playing under 18s. So the Tigers are almost part of her DNA.
"I just love going to the footy and being involved with the club,'' Tanya explained.
"I just do stuff in the background to help out.''
On game day and when not working in the canteen with close mate and now fellow life member Sharelle Lewis, Tanya gets to indulge in another passion - photography.
She's a regular on the sideline at Wingham's home and away games taking shots from all four grades as well as at club functions. These generally appear on the club's Facebook page.
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"The players of the year in all grades also get a massive photo with their trophy,'' Tanya explained.
"I used to take photos at the junior league when the kids were playing as well.''
When Graham Steel was compiling his two books on the history of the club Tanya gave him a digital file containing around 8000 photos taken over the years.
Tanya and Troy's four children, Tyler, Brooke, Josh and Nash have all worn the famous black and gold Tiger strip - Brooke in the club's women's league tag.
"Graham wrote in his most recent book that on one day the four of them all played senior grades for Wingham - that's never been done before,'' Tanya added with a touch of pride.
She's seen hundreds of players turn out for the Tigers. Pressed, she nominated Daryl Palmer, the captain-coach in 1980 and 81 as probably the best she's seen.
Tanya won't be hanging up her boots or camera anytime soon, either.
"No way,'' she emphasised.
A massive honour
BEING honoured with life membership of Wingham Rugby League Club was 'a complete shock' and a 'massive honour' for Sharelle Lewis.
Sharelle now joins her husband Paul, a player, coach and committee member with the club for many years, as a life member.
Rugby league is a family affair for the Lewises. As mentioned Paul has been involved with the club since his junior days. Sharelle and Paul's three boys, Cooper, Fletcher and Harry are all Tigers, although Cooper has now moved from the area.
When Sharelle and Paul became an item it was only natural she'd start following the Tigers.
"We moved up to Noosa for 18 months and became involved with the footy clubs there,'' Sharelle said. "But when we came back it's been full-on with the Tigers.''
"I used to go to the footy a bit when I was younger, but it's such a big part of Paul's life that I just wanted to get involved as well."
While she's never actually been on the committee, Sharelle can be found working in the canteen most game days. When not there she's busy with Tanya Atkins - her best mate and now fellow life member - taking photos of the matches.
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It was through her boys playing sport that Sharelle first took an interest in photography.
"When they were younger I started taking photos of them playing touch footy and footy. It was great to be able to capture those certain moments,'' she explained.
Sharelle always enjoyed watching Paul in action during his playing days and it's been the same with her three sons. Harry missed last season as he was recovering from knee surgery he underwent in 2020 but he's looking forward to having a run next year.
Injury is an unfortunate part of rugby league. However, Sharelle doesn't allow herself to think about it when she is watching her sons go around.
"I've never thought that way,'' she said. "I think if I started to worry about that, it might happen.''
Sharelle expects to be with the Tigers for many years yet. She enjoys the camaraderie and people associated with the club.
"While Paul's there, I'll be there,'' she said.
"And I can't see Paul ever retiring.''