THE sporting history of the Tweed is a story of champions at every level, from world champions in the surf, legends on the football field and greats on the greens.
Tweed Daily News has taken a look at some of the legends of our sporting past and those future stars who will soon became part of the shire’s athletic folklore. LIONEL MORGAN:
NO MAN defines Tweed’s sporting exceptionalness like Lionel Morgan, the first indigenous man to represent Australia in a rugby league test match.
Morgan, who was named on the wing in the Indigenous Team of the Century, scored two tries on his international debut. He won 12 Queensland caps scoring nine tries.
Uncle Lion Morgan returned to the Tweed for the Seagulls’ dream 1963 season when the club went undefeated.
A pioneer, legend and beacon to so many, Morgan was hounded by racism throughout his career and was even hospitalised while playing footy as a result of vilification.
The Bilambil Jets JRL club was presented with indigenous jerseys, the first of their kind, in 2018.
Bundjalung man, Bilambil junior and Gold Coast Titans captain Ryan James was on hand to see these kids, brimming with pride, collect their new jerseys. It was no better symbol of the legacy of Lionel Morgan.
OUR first queen of surfing, Phyllis O’donnell ruled the waves from Greenmount to Hawaii.
She became Australia’s first women’s world champion surfer in 1964, inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame in 1996 and was instrumental in the formation of the Australian Women’s Surfing Association. O’donnell also won the women’s division of the Australian National Titles in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
The success, at the time unprecedented for a woman, rendered her an icon. Spinning on her surfboard (she could do up to nine twirls atop her board) became a trademark. She featured on the cover of
Surfing World magazine. ELWYN WATERS:
AS SKILLED as he was tough, Murwillumbah’s Elwyn Waters was a forward no opponent wanted to come up against throughout the 1960s and ’70s.
Waters, born in 1943, won 12 caps for the Australian rugby league side, 11 NSW caps and pulled on a South Sydney jersey 129 times.
In those 129 games, Waters became a club immortal. In 2004 he was named by Souths in their South Sydney Dream Team. LARRY COROWA:
LARRY Corowa MBE, born in 1957, continues the line of Murwillumbah men to don the green and gold.
An indigenous man who scored tries at will, Corowa play two tests for Australia, scoring a try on debut in the 1979 Ashes series against Great Britain at Lang Park.
Corowa was renowned as “the fastest man in the game”. That pace helped Corowa score five tries in as many matches for NSW and become one of the only league players to score more than a try a game in a season in first-grade footy. PAT SMITH:
WITH the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast this year, the contributions of 1986 Commonwealth Games medallist Pat Smith were brought into focus.
Born in Murwillumbah in 1920, Smith has left behind a towering body of work on the bowling green, from her Games silver in Edinburgh in ’86, her Australian Singles title and an Order of Australia medal in 1989.
In between all that, Smith represented her state from 1972–87 and her country at both the ’82 and 86’ Commonwealth Games.
Lionel Morgan, the first indigenous man to play rugby league for Australia. Elwyn Waters. CHAMPION SURFER: Phyllis O’donell at Sydney Airport on her way to Coolangatta.
Larry Corowa. Pat Smith.