Sport

Back on two states’ courses

By Robert Muir

Sport has been in Greg Hennessy’s life for as long as he can remember and resuming the option of being able to play golf in his home town of Rutherglen as from last Friday, as well as playing at Corowa, has been welcomed.

After a seven-week absence of golf in Victoria, the Victorian Government eased COVID-19 restrictions on May 15 to allow golfers to take to the fairways.

Junior golf was particularly big in the Hennessy’s early days. “It was nothing to see 40 to 50 kids lining up on cold Saturday mornings,” the 61-year-old told The Free Press.

He became a single figure handicapper and won Rutherglen Club Championship at 15 years-of-age.  Now off a six-handicap, Hennessy’s lowest handicap was two. He has won 14 championships in total and runner up in many more.

A member of all of Rutherglen’s winning pennant teams, fond memories are held having great road trips with the likes of Doug McQuade, Peter Hall, Peter Riddell, Charlie Symonds, David Ward, Tom Edwards, Bill Black and his sons John, David and Paul. 

A representative of North East in Melbourne for a few years in the late 70s early 80s, Hennessy now coaches a few juniors with the help of mate Wayne (Porky) Milthorpe on Saturday mornings.

“As in all my sports I had many great coaches and mentors, none better than Pat Bourke who ran junior golf for years,” Hennessy said.

“Rutherglen has always had a strong relationship with sport and being the youngest of four kids I was taken along to all sports that were on offer.”

That’s why the Rivalea Abbatoir employee became very good at swimming, golf, cricket, football, tennis, basketball and squash. “All my friends and family were pretty good at sport growing up,” he said.

“School just got in the way of more time for sport! I can’t remember a time when we weren’t all outside having a kick, bowling a few overs or hitting wedge shots over the house into the back yard - much to my mother’s fear . 

“I even mowed a nine-hole putting course with jam tins stuck in the ground to practise. I think that this was the grounding for all of us to be competent because we just practised so much that when we got to competition sport it became easy.

“Team sport became a great passion of mine, I loved nothing better than getting out with all of my mates taking on any opposition and found quite often that the harder the game the better we’d all go.”

Hennessy played cricket up until he was 45 and probably would’ve kept going if his knee didn’t give out which resulted in a knee replacement at age 53. “I got to play with and against many life-long friends and my son Sean in the later years,” he said.

Hennessy played with Rutherglen as a junior then joined Cornishtown to play with great mates Mark and Garry Everett, Adie King, Rick Gillman and Charlie Humphreys.  After many frustrating years, Rutherglen finally won a flag in season 1984-85. 

Hennessy played rep cricket for the RDCA for many years at one stage captaining the Under 21 side and the seniors in the same year. “It was here that I bonded with the likes of Anthony (Psycho) Carroll, Rod (Whale) Lavis, David (Boof) Lane, Davis (Chops) and Paul (Popeye) Livingston. I later joined with these great players to play with Corowa to win six flags in a row in the WDCA,” he said.

“I then returned to Rutherglen to play with mates Harry Hood, Barry Mann, Peter Hall, Adie Grantham, Matt Hernan, Phill Coulston and Ned Ramsay to form what is now known as ‘The Dream Team’!”

Great joy and reward was derived by Hennessy coaching the 14s and 16s teams as his son Sean went through the grades, winning a couple of flags along the way. 

“I had another stint later on coaching the 16s again with another great bunch of kids winning another two flags. All up I coached juniors for over 10 years and loved every minute of it forming friendships with the boys which I still hold today.”

Hennessy’s career highlights also include his best individual efforts being 9/32 as a first medium pace swing bowler at Corowa, 185 runs at Cornishtown and a few other tons along the way with all the teams for which he batted anywhere from opening to number six.

Junior football was also strong in Rutherglen, with many great teams and coaches along the way. At 17-years-of-age, a teenage Hennessy played his first senior game for Rutherglen O&M side under Vin Doolan, playing a couple of years before Rutherglen joined with Corowa.

He played for Corowa/Rutherglen in the Coreen league for a few years making a Grand Final where he kicked seven goals after half time but went down to Coreen by a few points. He again helped out and coached the U/17s when son Sean played.

“I didn’t play as much football as I should have, giving it away around 23-24. I probably got a bit lazy as it became my one regret in sport that I didn’t play a bit longer,” Hennessy said.

“All up I have been on all of the sports committees for too many years to mention but I grew up with so much support that I felt it only fair that I should give back my support to help out. I have loved every moment of my sporting life along with the life-long friendships made, received so much in return.

“But the notoriety of being a handy sportsman in a small town is probably overstated compared to my wife Maureen who has put up with it all for so many years compared to her role as a nurse who has given much more to the community than I ever have.”