Twenty-two years ago rugby league legend Ron Coote visited Milton Hospital on the NSW South Coast. He was there to see his daughter, who had just welcomed an offspring into the world. Nothing unusual so far …
During his visit, the six-time premiership winner was asked by a hospital staff member to pop in and say g’day to someone he might know. We’ll let Ron take up the story …
“How MEN OF LEAGUE started is a bit of a point of contention,” the former Rabbitoh and Rooster kindly shared with Inside Sport's Dead In Goal podcast. (Interview starts 39 minutes in).
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“My view is that I was at Milton Hospital. There was a fellah in there, a bloke who was a former player with St George, Doug McRitchie. The nurse or sister who was there, she got me to come in and say hello to him. I thought how sad it was that, here’s this great former rugby league player in hospital on a Saturday afternoon and no one’s here to see him. I thought, ‘We need to do something about it.’ My idea was to put out a paper and let people know who was doing well and who wasn’t doing so well. That’s how it all started, for mine.
“You start something … I’m an enthusiastic person. I get behind whatever I decide to do. I really wanted to make this work and I worked hard to make it work for all those years.”
Since its official formation back in 2002, Men of League has grown into one of the most vital organisations in rugby league. According to its proud website, the foundation now boasts a robust membership and a national network of committees that are the engine room of the Foundation. Its volunteer network is supported by a professional, dedicated Sydney head office team, state teams providing advice and service from Brisbane and Sydney locations, as well as a national board.