FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
W HEN you meet blokes like “Bumper” Kermond, you wonder whether they make ’ em like him any more.
Even people who have known Bumper for decades would not realise his Christian name is Bernie.
He has been Bumper since he and his four brothers grew up in the Margaret Marr Home for Boys at Wynnum.
Bumper is 73, but he hasn’t long to go. The demons of skin cancer have taken a toll.
He has been unbowed in battling the brutal disease for more than two years and continues punching in the championship rounds.
“It has caught up with me the last three or four months,’’ he concedes. “Back in my day it was more coconut oil than sunscreen.”
Today at North Kirra Surf Lifesaving Club, they will be having “Beers with Bumper”, a gathering of friends and family to enjoy the company of a bloke who doesn’t like a fuss.
Bumper is a life member of North Kirra as well as Wynnum Manly Rugby League Club and Redlands Touch Association.
Until last summer, he was active as patrol captain at his surf club. He played in Wynnum Manly’s first senior grade premiership in 1972 and ran around touch footy fields at Redlands for 28 years.
Bumper worked for the same company for 44 years as a truck driver and has lived in the same house, just a 10-minute walk from Wynnum’s Kougari Oval, for the past 42 years. There’s a boat in the front yard, but it hasn’t been out on the bay for a while.
“He’s simply salt of the earth. Just a bloody good bloke,” said Joe Nowak, also a life-member at North Kirra. “If you wanted anything done you just had to ask Bumper. He just got on with the job.”
Born in Jundah, central- west Queensland, Bumper was three years old when he and his siblings were separated from their parents and taken in by the Margaret Marr home. Times were hard and his dirtpoor parents could not adequately care for their kids.
“The home was run by the Methodist Church with between 30 and 50 boys resident over the 11 years I was there,” recalled Bumper.
“It was pretty good, we never had any complaints.”
By the time he was 16 Bumper was working, living in a flat and playing junior footy for Wynnum Manly.
He graduated to the senior grades and in 1972 was a member of the third grade Seagulls side that scored a historic 9-2 grand final win over Norths.
It was the club’s inaugural senior-grade premiership.
“I played every position except halfback and hooker,” he laughed. “It was not long after the club moved from Kitchener Park to Kougari Oval.
“We used to sell chook raffles at every pub in the area, the Waterloo Bay, Fisher’s, Manly, the Hemmant.
“I remember in the bar one day when Neddy Green, father of Paul who is coaching the Cowboys, asked us all to chip in 20 bucks to help the club keep going at Kougari. Old Neddy was a halfback, just like Paul in his playing days.
“You appreciate things better when you do it like that. You had to pay your way.”
Bumper was introduced to North Kirra by a couple of footy club mates in the late 1960s.
“They said ‘come down for a weekend and see if you like it’. So we hitched a ride to Kirra and I thought ‘how long has this been going on?’
“So in summer it was the surf club and in winter it was footy. It was a good life, I’ve always enjoyed myself.”
Bumper was a founding member of Redlands Touch Association and played for almost 30 years as well as working in a myriad of volunteer roles. He was a regular on Friday nights, cooking the barbecue and working the canteen for hungry juniors and their parents.
“I’d cook for the kids at Redlands and then go to the Gold Coast after that to the surf club. I’d get away about 8.30,” he said.
Bumper also played squash for many years.
“I’ve always liked to keep active. You meet all sorts of people from all over the place when you are involved with sport.
“You don’t realise how much you get out of it until it comes time to look back.”
FOR details of the Beers for Bumper day at North Kirra, contact Joe Nowak on 0407 753 255.
HE’S SIMPLY SALT OF THE EARTH. JUST A BLOODY GOOD BLOKE