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Yarn Of The Month (some Great Stories)

26. John Dallas Donnelly Remembrance Day (and other related facts)

Posted by... Jeff Quigley - on ... Monday, March 06, 2017

YARN OF THE MONTH #26 ..... (original entry date) 06/03/2017 .

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#26 - John Dallas Donnelly Remembrance Day (and other related facts)

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Story by

Club supported by author

Year of story

Date of Submission

 

From Joe Camilleri, Sydney, Australia

Western Suburbs Magpies

2017

06/03/2017

 

John Dallas Donnelly Remembrance Day (and other related facts)
Story kindly presented (upon request from Quigs) by Joe Camilleri of the Western Suburbs Magpies Fanatics
1st March 2017
You can visit the Western Suburbs Magpies Fanatics here and perhaps join the group

  - https://www.facebook.com/groups/westernsuburbsmagpiesfanatics/

You can visit the Dallas Donnelly Biff Page here


John “Dallas” Donnelly was a larger than life figure in the world of rugby league with the Western Suburbs Magpies.  

A Gunnedah boy who was down to earth and a bit of a larrikin..

On the field, Donnelly was as tough as they come and in an era where “biffing” became part of the game, and was getting out of hand.

Donnelly and co. called this the softening up period. In 1978 and under coach Roy Masters, the Magpies were Minor Premiers.

When Jim Coman, a former Judge was given the job of cleaning up the game he was put in charge of the review board for the NSWRL judiciary committee. Jim’s main task was to clear up the violence on field and along with Donnelly, Bob Cooper (Wests), Les Boyd (Wests/Manly) and Steve Kneen Cronulla, they felt the brunt of Coman’s Lengthy suspensions.

After Dallas’s time at Wests had come to an end, he went on and played a season in England before returning to Australia and taking up the job to captain coach at Byron Bay on the north coast of NSW.


On the 22nd of February 1986 Dallas whilst enjoying the local surf with some of his new team mates, suffered an epileptic seizure and tragically drowned.

The Rugby league fraternity was in mourning, players, officials, and fans alike.

Back in 2008 with facebook becoming the medium for catching up with long lost friends, creating groups from music to rugby league..Scott Morris started a group for magpie diehards called the Western Suburbs Magpies fanatics. By 2013 the fanatics page had 600 members sharing photos and stories of past moments..

The fanatics started producing their own merchandise and some magpie gear from mugs to stickers.

Now the group has over 3,500 member and have become the heart and soul behind a magpies revival as they help push a return to the NSW Cup 2nd tier..

The fanatics have gained popularity through reports in the local papers and in helping on occasion by raising funds for those in need..

The Fanatics hold an annual Back to Campbelltown Day where past players attend with magpie faithful to tell many varied stories of their time at Wests.

In 2015. The Fanatics next mission was to raise funds for the struggling Gunnedah Bulldogs, the home of John Donnelly. Gunnedah also produced two other great league players in Cronulla’s Ron Turner who became Cronulla’s first Kangaroo and Souths and Manly forward and hardman John “Lurch “O’Neill. Lurch was a 6 times premiership winning front rower.

But none is closer to the heart of the Gunnedah locals than Dallas where the family clan still resides.

Back in 2015 a formal function was held in Gunnedah on the Friday night (5/05/2015) with many a former Wests player in attendance. Jim Leis, Tommy Raudonikis, Peter Young, Bruce “The Sloth “ Gibbs just to name a few. The next day (Saturday) the Gunnedah team had a homegame. The Bulldogs whose usual colours are Red, White and Blue but were permitted to play this home match in the Wests jersey to commemorate John Donnelly.

The CRL were not in favour of the change, eventually agreed to allow this to happen.



John’s Mum Gloria who never ventures out at night, made an effort to attend this special Gunnedah Memorial Match and was presented with a jersey with Donnelly 708 (his First grade number at Wests). Overcome with joy, Gloria accepted the jumper with much emotion. Prior to kickoff for the match, jumper 708 was placed on a sideline chair with the Gunnedah Bulldogs passing on their way onto the paddock replicating the famous 1986 photo of Bruce “Bruiser” Clark striding past Johns Jersey.

The bulldogs lost the match on the night, but it was a night that will never be forgotten by the fanatics and Gunnedah residents. Much needed funds were raised with sales of the memorial jumper selling over 60 units to the magpie faithful with all funds passed onto the Gunnedah Bulldogs.

The Western suburb football club in honour of the fanatics will have their name on the official club sock in 2017..

For the past two years and to keep Dallas memory alive, the Fanatics hold A Dallas Remembrance Day at Dallas’s favourite watering hole, The Railway Hotel in Lidcombe.

Players & fans alike share and remember the great memories of John “Dallas” Donnelly.

From Quigs: "Many thanks go out to Joe Camilleri of the Western Suburbs Magpies Fanatics for taking the time to compile this story for The Biff."

Additional Article in The Northern Daily Leader
Gunnedah's Dallas a legend larger than life
By Geoff Newling - 14 May 2015,
http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/3076998/gunnedahs-dallas-a-legend-larger-than-life/



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