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Alf Scott farewells Moree

THE Moree Boars centenary ball on July 21 will celebrate 100 years of rugby league in Moree – but it will also serve as a farewell of sorts to a Moree resident that has been a loyal servant to the town, and the game of rugby league, for more than 70 years.

Moree will be left much the poorer when local rugby league pioneer Alf Scott leaves the district to be closer to family.

Alf, now 94, was born and bred in Moree and, apart from a four-year stint in the Australian Army between 1942 and 1946, has been a resident of the town his entire life.

And he has served Moree well.

Over the decades Alf has been involved with the Moree P&C Association and Moree Cancer Support Group.

He is also life members of Moree Greyhound Racing Club, Moree Amateur Swimming Club and Moree East Primary School P&C.

He was given the Mayoral Community Service Award a few years ago as well but is best known as Moree’s walking, talking encyclopaedia on all things to do with local and regional rugby league.

Alf Scott with former workmates and close friends (from left) Tommy Smith, Michael Irwin, Mona Assef, Andrew Nash, Daniel Assef, Janice Ford, Keryn Assef, William Assef and Marie Beatty (Image Copyright Bill Poulos).

He has kept meticulous records and statistics of the game in Moree and was instrumental in keeping rugby league at the forefront of local sport for more than 70 years.

But the time has come, he says, to be closer to family and has plans in place to share ‘visitation rights’ between his son Richard in Perth and daughter Susan Stafa in Sydney.

“Richard and Susan asked me to think about being closer to them so I plan to stay with Susan for six months and then with Richard for six months and see who gets sick of me first,” Alf chuckled.

“Richard is now retired and Susan will retire in the next 6-8 months after serving more than 50 years in the health service.

“I’m living by myself now. I lost my wife Beryl to cancer 30 years ago and I feel it is now time to be closer to my family.

“I have wonderful neighbours that look after me, Margaret Herbert and her daughter Leisa McKnight,” he said.

“They are incredibly great people, and come and check on me every day. My niece, Lauren Houlahan, is fantastic as well. She is like a daughter to me.

“But I feel it is time to leave Moree . . . I’ve got to an age where I don’t want to be where there is no immediate family about.”

Alf Scott, with his beloved HR Holden Premier sedan. He bought the car brand-new in 1967 (Image: Copyright Bill Poulos).

Alf’s love of rugby league was instilled in him at a young age.

He played well as a young man and was considered good enough to try out for St George Dragons in post-war years.

He is still a Dragons’ tragic to this day.

“I came out of the army in 1946 and joined the East Moree Football Club as well as the Swimming Club,” Alf recalled.

“At the same time I had been going to Sydney and trialling with St George. I made about four trips down there and got graded – they used to only grade about 55 players each season.

“A few days later I got a call to go to the repatriation department. When I told them that I had been graded and was going to leave Moree and go to Sydney, they told me that football was out. They said there was to be no contact sport,” he said.

With a career on the paddock a pipedream, Alf focused his energy and drive elsewhere – in the committee rooms, boardrooms and engine rooms of local and regional rugby league – and in 1947 joined the committee of the East Moree Football Club.

“There used to be a local football competition in Moree with occasional challenges for the Spicer Cup against Narrabri,” Alf said.

“I became a delegate for the East Moree club for what used to be called the central committee of all the football clubs across the region.

“In 1950 they went into Group 12, and that took in a lot of towns in the area. That was the first time Moree started playing inter-town football,” he said.

It took Moree only 12 months to be recognised as a force at regional level, winning the Group 12 premiership in 1951.

“Moree also had representative players in the northern division team that played the French – we had some great players in those days like Alf Hardman and Tich Henderson,” Alf said.

As a delegate for Moree, Alf travelled to Group and judiciary meetings, taking in several Groups across just as many decades.

“Moree has been in different Groups six times. We stared in Group 12 then went to Group 5. After that we went to Group 4, then 19, back to 4 and then back to Group 19,” he said.

Alf also represented players at judiciary meetings and at different times was team manager when the club travelled.

“Up until the last couple of years, I had never missed a home or away game unless I was sick or away,” he said

Moree Boars treasurer, Kerry McDonald, who will carry on Alf’s incredible stats-keeping work, said the game in Moree will not be the same without Alf Scott perched on the sideline.

“We will miss him, and I personally wish him all the best,” Mrs McDonald said. 

“Unfortunately, Moree will lose a great community-minded person, too. Thanks to Alf the Moree Boars have stats on players going all the way back to 1955. He took on the record-keeping in 1956 and he could always be found on the officials’ table on game days, keeping scores.

“Alf was still officiating only up until recently. He became secretary-treasurer of the club in 1961 and was made a life member in 1973, and remains a patron,” she said.

Alf also received a Country Rugby League Merit Award in 1998 and was made a Group 4 life member a few years later.

“Frank Fish from Narrabri presented that to me and I believe that Frank and Ross Hamilton from Inverell are the two best administrators I have seen running football in country NSW,” Alf said.

“Ross was the secretary-treasurer of Group 5 and Group 4 and just recently was recognised for his efforts with sport – football mainly – and all the years that he has put into it.”

Away from the football, Alf started his working life at Morgan and Co before taking up a position with iconic menswear and ladies wear store, Assef’s of Moree in July, 1948.

And he was still there 58 years later when retirement beckoned in 2005.

His former employer and great friend, Mona Assef, 88, said Alf will be missed.

Mrs Assef has known Alf since 1950.

“That’s when I came to Australia, and Alf was working in the shop,” she said.

“Alf was a very good worker, and very faithful to the business – he was with us for 57 years.

“He is also a very good friend and still calls in every Monday for morning tea. We really enjoy that, and gossip about the old days.

“There is always plenty to talk about – Alf is a very good storyteller,” she laughed.

“Alf has been a great person for Moree and has been involved in just about everything.

“It is a shame that he is leaving but he has family, and I can understand his decision to go.

“He wants to be close to them,” Mrs Assef said.

Tommy Smith, who turns 83 this month, worked alongside Alf at Assef’s for 21 years from 1982 until 2003.

“We had some unbelievable times,” Tommy said.

“Alf was a terrific bloke to work with and whenever I needed to know something, Alf was always there for advice.

“I’m nearly 83 so I suppose you could call me Alf’s junior when we worked together,” he chuckled.

“It is unbelievable what Alf has done for Moree, especially rugby league.

 “It will be sad to see him leave town . . . really sad,” Tommy said.

Words and Images: Bill Poulos

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Moree will be left much the poorer when local rugby league pioneer Alf Scott leaves the district to be closer to family.

Alf, now 94, was born and bred in Moree and, apart from a four-year stint in the Australian Army between 1942 and 1946, has been a resident of the town his entire life.

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