EXTENDED SERVICE: Grafton Ghosts' 50th anniversary coordinator Joe Kinnane.
EXTENDED SERVICE: Grafton Ghosts' 50th anniversary coordinator Joe Kinnane. Adam Hourigan

JOE'S HONOUR: Life member recognised for years of service

RUGBY LEAGUE: His striking ponytail has been a symbolic sight on the sidelines at Frank McGuren Field for more than three decades, and now Joe Kinnane has been rewarded for his dedication to league.

The former Grafton Ghosts president, who began his tenure at the proud club in 1972, was recognised by Country Rugby League with a 2019 CRL Service Pin. The pins are awarded to individuals who have given extended service to rugby league at a volunteer level in recognition for their outstanding contributions.

Kinnane, who began his love affair with rugby league as a player at the Junee Devils more than 60 years ago, was awarded his service pin by CRL chief executive officer Terry Quinn at a dinner last week.

Over his almost 50-year tenure with the Ghosts, Kinnane held multiple positions in the club executive, but spent his greatest days as first-grade manager for three different Clayton Cup-winning outfits.

But the feeling of receiving the long-awaited recognition for his service rivalled that of winning CRL's greatest prize.

"I was very proud to receive it, I have been (with the Ghosts) for a long, long time,” he said. "I appreciated the fact that they recognised that I have been there for a long time, but it is not why I did it. I love the game, and I love the club.

"I have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in my time with the Ghosts. But I would not change any of it.”

TOP TRIO: Brian Rix, Joe Kinnane  and Roy Ferraro receive their service pins for their contribution to Country Rugby League.
TOP TRIO: Brian Rix, Joe Kinnane and Roy Ferraro receive their service pins for their contribution to Country Rugby League. Ursula Bentley@Captured Aus

While there were times that were harder to stick out with the club, Kinnane said he was always supported by the people closest to him, most notably his wife Cheryl Kinnane OAM.

A major contributor to sport in the Clarence Valley in her own right through hockey, Cheryl never let her husband give up on his passion.

"I have to thank her, and my two boys, for sticking with me through it all,” he said.

Kinnane was not the only Clarence Valley rugby league identity to receive a service pin, with GDSC CEO Garry Williams also recognised for his service to the sport.

Williams sat on the executive of the South Grafton Rebels for more than a decade, before taking the reins as treasurer for Group 1/NRRRL in 1995, a position he held until taking a step back from the sport last season.

Williams, through his work with the GDSC, has also been a proud supporter of the Grafton Ghosts for a number of years and Kinnane said it was a good feeling to receive the award alongside a "good friend”.

"I can remember the days he was on the board at the Rebels and I was with the Ghosts,” Kinnane said. "When it came to on the field we probably didn't see eye to eye, but off it we were always friends.”

"He has always been a good bloke, and when he was with the NRRRL he always had an open door if I needed help. As a sponsor he was always easy to deal with. He definitely deserves this recognition.”