OUR BIG SON-DAY

Bolton and Slater se­nior re­unite for beers and cheers

The Weekend Post - - News - JA­COB GRAMS

FORTY years ago Ron Slater (left) and Peter Bolton (far left) came to blows on the foot­ball field.

This week the two proud fa- thers of two of the Far North’s best rugby league prod­ucts – Storm full­back Billy Slater and Cow­boys prop Scott Bolton – buried the hatchet, rem­i­nisced and pre­pared to cheer their sons on the na­tional stage. The two In­n­is­fail men could not be more thrilled about the way the town has sup­ported their boys’ play­ing ca­reers.

TWO IN­N­IS­FAIL BOYS IN THE GRAND FI­NAL. HOW GOOD THIS? THEY’RE PUTTING IN­N­IS­FAIL ON THE MAP RON SLATER

THEY were once bit­ter ri­vals but Ron Slater and Peter Bolton have no hard feel­ings be­tween them as they pre­pare to cheer their sons on the NRL’s big­gest stage.

Cow­boys prop Scott Bolton and Storm full­back Billy Slater have split In­n­is­fail rugby league fans down the mid­dle but everyone agrees just how good it is for the Far North to see the two boys run on to ANZ Sta­dium to­mor­row.

While the pair have crossed paths on count­less oc­ca­sions through­out the past decade, Ron and Peter have done so spar­ingly. When they met at Gar­radunga Ho­tel on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, it was the first time they had held a con­ver­sa­tion for 40 years.

In­n­is­fail once had their own hard-fought four-team com­pe­ti­tion and it was typ­i­cal 1970s rugby league. Noth­ing was off lim­its.

Ron played for Sub­urbs, Peter played for Broth­ers and on one fate­ful day they came to blows.

Bolton came off sec­ond best and spent the night in hos­pi­tal.

But that’s his­tory now. Bolton says there’s noth­ing in it.

“We’re all good. I just don’t get out much,” he said about the dis­tance be­tween them.

“It was a bit rugged in those days. There were no rules.”

Slater was cau­tious about the meet­ing, but in this his­toric mo­ment for their boys, it’s time to let by­gones be by­gones.

“Two In­n­is­fail boys in the grand fi­nal. How good this? They’re putting In­n­is­fail on the map,” he said.

Last week­end Slater was bar­rack­ing for the Cow­boys, but Sun­day will be an easy choice to back Billy as he sits at the Gar­radunga with his mates.

That’s not to say he isn’t buy­ing into the hys­te­ria in North Queens­land.

“I was think­ing we’d win pretty well but lately I’ve been think­ing the Cow­boys have been play­ing pretty well too,” Slater said.

“There’s noth­ing like mo­men­tum, but I’ve got noth­ing but con­fi­dence go­ing into the grand fi­nal.”

He doesn’t go to Syd­ney any­more, al­though wife Judy will be there. Ron sees more on TV. But watch­ing his cham­pion son back on the park af­ter fight­ing back from what could have pre­ma­turely ended his ca­reer is sat­is­fy­ing enough.

“To tell you the truth at one stage I was won­der­ing whether he’d be back. But I knew he’d have a go,” Slater said.

“It’s good to see he’s there this year. He suf­fered a bit, but he’s right. He’s ready.”

But will he play again? That’s some­thing we’ll have to wait for.

“I don’t know whether he’ll play again. Well I know, but I’m not go­ing to tell any­one,” Slater said.

Pic­ture: ANNA ROGERS

NO HARD FEEL­INGS: Ron Slater and Peter Bolton meet years af­ter play­ing league against each other in In­n­is­fail.

RON’S BOY: Mel­bourne Storm full­back Billy Slater.

PETER’S BOY: Cow­boys prop Scott Bolton.

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