Hammers honour 35 years

PLENTY OF HISTORY: Hammers Rugby Union Club founder Ray Hilder helped the game establish itself in Gympie.
PLENTY OF HISTORY: Hammers Rugby Union Club founder Ray Hilder helped the game establish itself in Gympie. Submitted

GYMPIE Hammers Rugby Union Club founder Ray Hilder is looking forward to a 35-year reunion next month.

The reunion will take the form of a special dinner at the Gympie Civic Centre on June 12 during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

All past and current players have been invited to celebrate the Hammers club and its achievements over the last 35 years.

The last time a reunion was held was five years ago.

“We had a great reunion five years ago and thought we should do it every five years,” Hilder said.

The Hammers played their first game as a club in 1975 and Hilder was proudly at the helm.

“We tried to play in 1974 but we couldn’t get things off the ground,” he said.

“The nearest club was 200 kilometres away, so we had to encourage the Sunshine Coast and Maryborough to get involved.”

Initially, friendly games were played against Maryborough and Kingaroy before the Sunshine Coast got involved in 1976.

Hilder’s love of union ensured the game was revived in Gympie after dying out after World War 1, when the form of footy was loved by Gympie’s many miners.

Looking at the Hammers today, Hilder believed the problems faced by the side had not changed all that much.

“We’re very much a country team playing against city teams,” he said.

“There’s no escaping that and it does make it hard.”

The reunion night itself will feature a guest speaker (yet to be confirmed) and will cost $50 per person. The charge includes a three-course meal.

An auction is also planned, including a Robbie Deans-signed Wallaby jersey, a signed Wallaby jersey, an original Hammers jersey framed with the new commemorative Hammers jersey and a Digby Loane-signed ball among others.

Meanwhile, Hilder said the club had attempted to contact as many players as it could, but worried there would be quite a number that had fallen through the cracks.

For this reason, Gympie Hammers Rugby Union Club president Matt King is urging all players not yet contacted to come forward and be involved. King can be contacted on 0429 822 475.

Gympie Times