Despite torrential rain cascading over Sydney on Friday afternoon, Artie’s at easts provided a comfortable and homely setting for a host of former Roosters, who gathered together to celebrate Arthur Beetson Day.
The fan favourites gathered in the Bondi Room at easts at Bondi Junction, reuniting with one another for an afternoon which included a spread of platters and plenty of beverages, as well as speeches from selected guests and a gallery of photographs and memorabilia to look over.
Over 60 representatives from various eras were present, including Russell Fairfax, Gavin Miller, Paul Dunn, Brett and Bill Mullins, Kevin Junee and Royce Ayliffe, who all reminisced on their halcyon days in a relaxing atmosphere filled with plenty of laughs and cheers - particularly from the animated storytelling by John Quayle.
I lost my wife a couple of months ago, but the people here always call up and ask me how I’ve been. That built Eastern Suburbs – we were a family. We stuck together.Bill Mullins Rooster #587
Chief organiser Terry Murphy – who represented the Club between 1977-1981 – retold the beginnings of Arthur Beetson Day, the meaning behind the now-annual event and the influence the famous Rooster had on his career.
“The history of this day was when Ian Schubert got a bunch of the older Roosters together for Christmas. When Arthur died, it was on the Thursday and this event was on the Friday,” he recalled.
“It turned into a wake for Beetso, and every year since, someone has gotten up and told a story about Arthur and we’ve raised our glass and given him a toast, so it’s grown from that.
“When I started in ’77, Arthur was Captain-Coach, so for me, he changed my life. He saw something in me that I didn’t even believe that I had. I’m forever grateful and that’s why I’m so passionate about it today.
“A successful organisation remembers the past and is thankful for the past. You build on that for the present, and use that for the future. This Club has done that now consistently for the last 20 odd years and that’s why we’re the benchmark of Sydney sides.
“My dad and his brother both played for the Chooks. I’m following a family tradition; I grew up in Bondi, my father was born in the front room of his family house in Bondi, and I consider myself nothing but a Rooster.
“My fondest memories as a graded player was here in the Red, White and Blue and I’ll always be that.”
Fan favourite winger Bill Mullins, who played his entire eleven-season career from 1968-1978 for the Club, becoming the first player in Club history to score a century of tries in the Red, White and Blue was present with son Brett and a number of former teammates from the 1974-1975 triumphs.
“So far it’s been fantastic,” Mullins said of the event.
“You don’t realise how much people change; their hair goes grey, they go bald and that type of stuff. Sometimes you’ve got to wait until someone brings up their name to recognise them – I believe it’s called old age!
“But it’s important for us. For the players coming in, there’s nothing better than seeing blokes you played with for a couple of years.
“I lost my wife a couple of months ago, but the people here always call up and ask me how I’ve been. That built Eastern Suburbs – we were a family. We stuck together.
“The Easts of today, that’s what they’ve been very good at - being a family.”
For former player and trainer Mick Souter, who arrived at the Club in 1974 - the event was an opportunity to reconnect with teammates not seen since his days of pulling on the famous Tricolours.
When I started in ’77, Arthur was Captain-Coach, so for me, he changed my life. He saw something in me that I didn’t even believe that I had. I’m forever grateful and that’s why I’m so passionate about it today.Terry Murphy Rooster #680
“It’s been a very interesting afternoon, and very well organised by Terry Murphy and Easts. It’s a fantastic venue, the first time I’ve been to Artie’s and I’ll definitely look to come back another time," Souter said.
“You run into guys you haven’t seen for a couple of years, and I’ve been coming to these events for the last few, and it’s a great thing that Easts foster and organise, and they’re committed to continuing.
“It was a very successful Club in the 1970s and it’s always been at the fore right through to the 90s and 2000s, and in recent years they’ve been one of the top teams in the NRL.
“I’m very proud that I was associated with the Roosters in the early days, and I still come back to these functions and get to catch up with my teammates.”