ALMOST half a century has passed since Wally Dylko last pulled on the boots for his beloved Wauchope Blues.
A rugby league career spanning 274 matches at Lank Bain Sporting Complex was finally rewarded when he became the latest member to join the Group 3 rugby league Hall of Fame.
He will be officially inducted on January 21 and he still can't believe it.
"I thought they were joking because I haven't played since 1975 and I was made a life member of Wauchope back in 1968," he said.
His 16-year career started on the wing in 1959 before he made a name for himself as a lock forward where he spent the majority of his 200 first grade games.
But there were a number of matches where he didn't play a typical lock forward's role.
"Playing lock didn't mean I played lock all the time because whenever anybody got sent off or got hurt I took their position in the side straight away," he said.
Dylko's selflessness was a key attribute of his time with the Blues which he said could have contributed to his hall of fame recognition.
"I used to think about the players and my team. I loved getting the ball, straightening the attack and beating the bloke with the ball. If he didn't score after I passed I used to go crook on him," he said.
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And then there was his underrated tackling technique.
"Tackling was my number one thing; I never tackled around the head, I used to always tackle around the legs," he said.
"Once they saw Wally Dylko coming they had to pass the ball because they knew they would have been knocked over."
Dylko played 230 games in first grade along with 10 in reserve grade and 34 in the under-18s where he spent the majority of time on the wing.
"I always used to be physically fit and back then I was pretty fast, but when age caught up to me I was getting slower and slower so I moved to lock," he said.
"As soon as I started playing reserve grade the buggers put me back into first grade."
Born and bred in Wauchope ensured he never contemplated heading east of the donut despite Port Macquarie making a play for his signature early in his career.
But he still enjoyed playing in Port Macquarie.
"I lived in Wauchope and I couldn't play for Port and live in Wauchope ... that'd be the last thing I'd do," he said.
"I used to love playing on the field in Port and the crowd ... holy God. I think half of them must have thought I was playing for Port."