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 …
“Men of League started 16 years ago to help the men, women and children of the rugby league community who have fallen on hard times,” says Ron Coote. “We’ve been very successful in what we’ve done; we’ve been able to help many, many people including children, ex-players and women as well. I can tell you many stories of ladies over the years who have needed some assistance; wives of former players, for example.”
Coote, the Honorary President of the Men of League Foundation, agreed to a chat with Inside Sport’s Dead in Goal podcast. We quizzed him on what he’s been up to lately. In summary: living his best life.
“I had McDonald’s stores for 30 years,” says Ron. “My kids have them now; I’m not involved in them anymore at all. We’ve had McDonald’s stores down the coast here at South Nowra, Bomaderry, the new Nowra Central one, as well as Ulladulla. So that keeps them pretty busy, not so much me; I don’t get involved too much. If they ask for any help, I’ll certainly be there, but they’re going good on their own.
“They don’t need me – I’m a gardener down here now. I grow vegetables. I have beautiful – well, I think they’re beautiful – surrounding gardens which I look after. So I have that to do.”
Bit of a career summary: stats are sketchy, but we interviewed respected author Alan Whiticker a month or two back, so we’ll rely on his Encyclopaedia of Rugby League Players numbers out of loyalty. Coote played 148 games for Souths between 1964-71 and 109 for Easts between ‘72-78. There were also 15 games for NSW pre-Origin, and 13 appearances for the Kangaroos. His dad, Jack, who sits one name above him in Whiticker’s volumes, had a lot to do with young Ron’s rugby league introduction.