In her opening remarks Anne Steward, representative of the Sunshine Coast Hall of Fame said, “Greg Furner does the job that nobody wants to do. He sets up the fields, runs the entry gate (mostly on his own) on game day, helps set up and pack up, maintains the facilities: you name it and Greg does it.”
Now in acknowledgement, of an incredible 32 years of continual service and loyalty in all aspects of club life, this quiet achiever, Greg Furner, Life Member of Pirates Rugby League Club comes the highest accolade of all. The Certificate of Merit, for outstanding contribution to Sport on the Sunshine Coast: and with it comes entrance into the Hall of Fame.
For Greg Furner who has spent a lifetime working as a highly respected builder within our community, his commitment to the Pirates began in 1988, after playing junior football, and being an avid supporter for several years. On joining he immediately took a seat on the committee and now 39 years on, still holds that seat. On looking back Greg remembers: “The years leading up to that time had been tough for the club. However, in 1989 a complete new committee had been formed and the fight back really started.”
Despite the heavy work load that Greg and the new committee had undertaken, he still found time to fulfil other obligations to the community. This involved his work and responsibility as Liaison Officer to the Noosa Shire Council, representing, the Noosa District Sports Complex Committee. This undertaking resulted in Greg contribute 32 consecutive years to this position.
His time with Pirates has seen Greg serve as Treasurer for several years and (following his elevation to Life Membership),a member of the 3- man Life Member Sub Committee. It is this committee that is responsible for the investigation of Life Membership nomination: a position that is held in high regard by all sporting organisations throughout Australia. Another of the many unsung jobs that no one wants, but has bought Greg public recognition and respect (for his many years) is that of gate keeper on game days: many of which are conducted in pouring rain.
As one can imagine in this bracket of time there have several highlights in which Greg was involved. ‘’Regarding this there was the building of the Pirates first club house in 2000, working as the club liaison officer for the massive refurbishment of the new lighting system for the entire facilities, and being instrumental in the pirates obtaining the currant scoreboard system.
But amongst the really big ones was back in 2000,when we obtained the Honky Tonk Rodeo: this was to become a major step forward in our fundraising and went on to become an annual event. This was really good for three reasons: one was the fact that it became a great financial winner, the second was, it gave us the opportunity to provide great family entertainment within our community. And last it was great PR for the Pirates club. During the years leading up to the Covid-19 outbreak restrictions, we only lost one year of putting on the rodeo: and that was owing to heavy rain.
Then on the football side of things, came the project that made us one of the strongest clubs on the coast: and that was, following some very tough and sometimes controversial discussions, the amalgamation of our two clubs. Watching the Juniors (from Cooroy) linking up with the Seniors as one club, was indeed very gratifying. Now we are totally united: working together, playing together and planning our future as one club. It is things like that makes it( doing all the unwanted jobs) worth- while. Being involved as a committee man has given me something to be really proud of.”
When it comes to finance Greg remembers a 15- year, ( prior to the rodeo) period when along with a couple of club mates, he spent time doing raffles at the Royal Mail Hotel in Tewantin. “This really started to fall apart,” said Greg with a laugh, “when the No Smoking Ban came into vogue. This prohibited smoking at the bar, so all the boys kept drifting outside for a smoke, and this really threw a spanner in the works: it slowed us right down. We would walk through the bar with our raffle tickets, but nearly all the drinkers were outside. This I thought was becoming a bloody great waste of time. However, in recent times, the ladies football team has taken over the raffle duties as their contribution to the clubs finance: and they have done a really good job.”
Down through the years Greg acknowledges the great financial support of Pirates major sponsors: people like the Tewantin Noosa RSL, The Viller Noosa Hotel and Bob Borger of Veridian, just to name a few. “There have been many other smaller sponsors, just too many to mention, but we are very grateful and always will be: and we will always remember who they are.”
Speaking of the Pirates playing record, Greg has some incredible memories. “For us it all started back in 1977, when under player/coach Mick Plant, the club won its first ever A grade premiership: and for us at this time and place it was a really big thing. There have, over the years, been other wins through all grades, the junior divisions and reserves. But the proudest time of all was, when under player /coach Noel Goldthorpe, we achieved the impossible: winning three consecutive premerships,2006, 2007 and 2008.For me it was our proudest achievement ever.”
Another factor that has been very satisfying for Greg as a committee man, has been watching juniors come up through the ranks: and the two he will always remember, Moses Mbye and Jake Friend. Both went on to play NRL in Sydney -with Mbye also playing State of Origan for Queensland. When he speaks of watching the young come up through the ranks, nothing gives him greater pleasure than watching his teenage daughter Stella, play Netball. “I have helped the Netball club with several jobs throughout the years so, it’s a bit of a double header: helping the club while watching my daughter grow up to be fine young lady. All very satifying.”
One thing that Greg emphasises is that down through the years the high calibre and loyalty of people who have worked for the club has been second to none. “When you work with good people nothing is impossible and it also makes the work-load so much easier. People like the Christensen family; their contribution to the club has been nothing short of incredible. Other people such as John Pulham, Grant Mould, Chris and Sue O’ Grady, Clare Robinson, Peter McGregor, Bob Borger, Brett Winkler and councillor Joe Jurisevic: just to name just a few of the many who worked through the years. We owe them a big vote of thanks.”
While discussing the golden years of three premierships in a row with Pirates Greg said, “I have another 3 in a row away from football. That was in my late teenage years when I was a member of three different cricket A grade sides, Nambour1,Nambour 2 and Tewantin: believe it or not, I was a member of each team when they won the premership.Three different teams, three years in a row. On remembering those three games, all those years ago, I still get a kick out of it, but I guess that’s life. One thing I feel I must do is to say thank you to all the well wishers who have phoned me to say well done: the number has really amazed me.”
This tells us that here is a man to whom personal satisfaction is more important than public acclaim. His admittance into the Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to sport on the Sunshine Coast, is without a doubt well and truly justified. Proud to say, he is one of Our People.