Norbridge Park groundkeepers, L-T Cecil Newman and Bryan Graff.
Norbridge Park groundkeepers, L-T Cecil Newman and Bryan Graff. Chris Ison ROK140717cnorbridge4

How the grass is always greener helping others

HE'S carried the Olympic torch, won multiple Wesley Halls with Nerimbera Magpies, swum for the Rocky Crocs and played competitive squash.

And at 87, Rockhampton's Bryan Graff is living proof that age is no barrier.

In 1996, at 65 years young, he was forced to retire after decades in the railway, so to keep his mind and body active and healthy he began to volunteer at Norbridge Park as a groundsman.

He is still there 21 years on, servicing the grounds for hundreds of local juniors of Rockhampton Football and Football CQ each week.


"My doctor told me not to stop, so why would I?" Bryan said with a grin.

"I suppose not everyone could do still do this, but I have never considered myself old. While I have the ability to work and consider myself still active, I will keep on going.

"My wife doesn't mind, she knows it is better being here than doing nothing at home. Knowing hundreds of kids can enjoy their football each week is very rewarding."

While Rockhampton Regional Council look after the mowing of the fields, Bryan and side kick, 76-year-old Cecil Newman, do the rest.

Six days every week of line marking, fixing sprinklers, mending pot holes, levelling goal mouths, cleaning, moping, the whole nine yards.

Between the daily banter and bickering the two good mates battle on, preparing the fields, rain, hail or shine.


On Sunday, Cecil, who prefers the easy-tongued 'Ces', gazed out at their fields after 12 weeks of hard yakka.

They've had five floods and one cyclone in their time destroy the fields - Debbie's damage being the worst.

"I stood up at the building on Sunday and just looked out... I thought this is just great, so worth all the work," Ces said.

"We are here for the kids, not ourselves and we do love it.

"I came on board 16 years ago and we have never had an argument. We have a go at each other of course but we are great mates.

"I am only 76, I have to catch up to him. We just do what we can."



Norbridge Park groundkeeper, Bryan Graff marking out one of the soccer fields.
Norbridge Park groundkeeper, Bryan Graff marking out one of the soccer fields. Chris Ison ROK140717cnorbridge2

We interrupted Bryan's line marking duties for the interview. He walked over, surprisingly with a brisk ease.

With a quick hand shake he pulled out his mobile phone to call over his right hand man.

Talking with Bryan unaware, you wouldn't pick his age. His skin should be more weathered, his walk slower, his mind should be starting to lose its sharpness.

But clearly the daily work allow him to keep kicking on.

"We would do 30-35 hours every week," he said with a chuckle.

"Some days this year we did 10 hour days preparing for the floods.

"We get paid a little - pittance really - but the pay doesn't worry me at all.

"The railway might have let me go too early but it worked out well really. I was contemplating retiring, just trying to build up the super.

"Most of the time we get good reports of what we do, you can't please everyone but the sheer thrill from the kids running round is all we need."

Bryan's love of the beautiful game began just after the war, he signed on with Nerimbera at 16, and was part of the club's golden era.

His side won an unprecedented five-straight Wesley Hall Cups.

Once his day is done, there's only one place you'll find Bryan.

"I brew my own beer, so I have a full bottle every night with my wife... she has a wine, I have a beer," he smiled.

"That's where I like to watch television and put my feet up."

On behalf of the thousands of juniors to take advantage of their services, those feet of one of Rocky's unsung community heroes deserve all the rest they need.

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