Moree has produced its share of rugby league greats

Moree has produced some great sportsmen and sportswomen down through the decades, and many involved in local rugby league will return home later this month to reminisce – and more than likely replay – many of the town’s finest sporting moments.

Former player Geoff Orman will be right in the thick of things on August 18-19-20 when the 50-year University Shield reunion packs down.

He says Moree produced crop after crop of outstanding players, year in, year out.

“Rugby league in Moree has produced quite a number of great payers that have become local heroes and icons of the game, in both our town and throughout Group 5, and a number of these players went on to bigger and better things in rugby league,” Orman said.

“Some of the recent ones include the Shearer family, starting with Ivan – what a great player. Many rate Ivan as the greatest centre to ever grace Taylor Oval and I would have to agree.

“I can remember, as a young fella going to the footy at a packed Taylor Oval, watching him display his skill and toughness on many occasions over a long period of time.

“Then there was Danny Shearer, who was a goal-kicking winger,” Orman said.

“Danny represented NSW against Queensland then moved to Sydney to play first-grade in the NSWRL competition, before returning home.

“Leon Shearer was also a great player for Moree, equally at home in the centres, five eight or second row; he was tough, skilful and very passionate when representing Moree,” he said.

In the 1972 grand-final, which pundits firmly believe was one of the hardest and toughest games played at Taylor Oval, Leon showed just how tough he was.

“The game was nothing short of brutal at times. Both sides went at each other – never gave an inch – with Moree winning the title. Leon also had a successful stint as a player with Souths in Brisbane,” Orman said.

Earlier, Alfie Hardman was a hooker who played for the Big M back in the 1940s and 1950s when scrums, Orman says, were not for the faint-hearted.

“Everyone who played with or against Alfie rated him very highly, not only for his toughness but also for his high skill level and his ability to control the ruck,” Orman said.

“Some rated him good enough to represent Australia which was a huge compliment back then. He is rated as the best hooker to embrace our town and one of the all-time greats of country rugby league.”

Doug Houlihan was big, tough, old-school front-rower. He was uncompromising in defence and ruled the scrums with strength and durability.

“Dougie started his career when the forwards had to be tough, skilful and didn’t give an inch,” Orman said.

“He was captain-coach when Moree won the title in 1972 and he led his troops from the front – he never took a backward step.

“His counterpart that day was Ron Auckland, who is rated one of the best second-rowers to represent the Kiwis. He also was very tough and both he and Dougie went at each other the entire game,” Orman recalled.

The 1972 grand-final, and many more, will be remembered at the August 18-19-20 reunion in Moree.

Reunion organiser Mike Hadfield said hundreds of people are expected back to Moree.

He said the huge get-together is not just about rugby league, but a chance for all former Moree-ites to come home and catch up with family and friends – it’s about Moree people getting together to reminisce and celebrate Moree’s rich sporting history.

“We’ve had some big reunions over the years, but his looks like being the biggest yet – there’s going to be quite a few people in town in August,” Hadfield smiled.

Former Moree residents interested in returning home for the three-day reunion can contact Mike on 0417 482359 or email

Words: Copyright