Hall of Fame honour for Brian and Gerry

TWO stalwarts of the AFL North West will be honoured this weekend when the inaugural inductees into the NSW Australian Football Hall of Fame are officially announced.

Brian Lenton and the late Gerry Griffiths will have their many years of service to football in the region recognised when they are among the 100 people who will be inducted at a dinner at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night.

The pair were driving forces during the pioneering stages of footy and the AFL North West would not be what it is today without the vision and hard work they provided for so many years.

GERRY GRIFFITHS became involved in the Tamworth Australian Football League from its inception in late 1996 in readiness for its first year in 1997.

When a call went out through the media seeking support from people in the Tamworth community to get involved, it was Griffith who put his hand up as somebody who wanted to get involved in starting the League.

He didn’t just get involved, Griffiths took on the role of President of the Committee that then became the Tamworth Australian Football League Inc.

In the early days, Gerry and his wife Veronica and family Matt, Marguerite, Evan and Emily took on many roles including umpiring, playing, running the canteen, tribunal and the many meetings required for conducting a successful competition.

Griffiths was behind the expansion of the competition to include a team from Armidale followed by a team from Gunnedah and then teams from Muswellbrook, Narrabri and Inverell.

He was in no small way responsible for the growth of the game in the region, pushing through times of some resistance to change but always acting in the best interest of football in the region.

Griffiths answering that call in the media in late 1996 was a serendipitous moment for footy in the North West.

BRIAN LENTON moved to Gunnedah for work in 1976 and after initially playing for Tamworth in the University of New England competition in Armidale. Together with a couple of Tamworth team-mates based in Gunnedah, Lenton founded the Gunnedah Bulldogs in 1977 and the club was admitted to the uni competition.

Lenton was the inaugural captain-coach of Gunnedah and led the Bulldogs to the first premiership when they beat the Tamworth Magpies at No 2 Oval Tamworth in 1978.

He coached from 1977-82, 1985-88, and 1990-91 winning five premierships in 78-79, 86-87 and 91. He won the competition’s best player award and was the competition leading goal scorer from 1978-1982.

There is not a position at Gunnedah that Lenton hasn’t filled off the field either. Today he still acts as the club’s timekeeper – a role he’s filled for a quarter of a century.

This is on top of being a club committee member since 1977 including being president of the Bulldogs for its first eight years.