One of Narrabri rugby league’s favourite sons Kevin Hill returned home recently.
Hill, who captain-coached the Narrabri Rugby League Football Club to its fifth and most recent Group Four Rugby League first grade premiership victory in 1990, now lives in Casuarina, a beachside village located just south of Kingscliff in the Tweed Shire.
He is employed by NSW Rugby League as the East Coast Region’s regional area manager.
Mr Hill said that he and his wife Tania visited Narrabri to check in on Tania’s mother Lorraine Smith, who lives alone, as well as his parents Kevin and Tootsie Hill.
While in Narrabri, Hill was among the first to play a round of golf at the Narrabri Golf Club since the course re-opened after being closed back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He went around the course with close friend, former business partner and 1990 premiership-winning teammate Wayne Saunders.
“I hadn’t played for about six months so I was fairly ordinary but Wayne played well,” said Hill who last played on the Narrabri course during a visit home last October.
It has now been almost 30 years since those two close mates and the Narrabri Blues did something that no Narrabri first grade team has done since – win a Group Four Rugby League first grade premiership.
The day was Sunday, September 9, 1990, and the venue was Collins Park as Narrabri took on West Tamworth.
The Blues had gone down in the 1989 grand final to Moree, but Narrabri entered the 1990 decider as the team to beat having knocked off West Tamworth 12-6 in the major semi-final.
Hill and his men got the job done in the big dance when they downed West Tamworth again. The score was 18-14 on a day Hill said he would never forget.
“You don’t forget days like that,” Hill said. “It was a massive crowd and there was a lot of town support there.
“It was a fairly young side and we were a great bunch of mates.
“We had myself and Wayne Saunders and John Rumsby but there were also a lot of very young players who were all from Narrabri, Matty Smith and Paul Smith, a couple of the young French boys and Tony Cousins, they were all in their early 20s.
“It was just a very good year to be involved with Narrabri rugby league.
“We had a really great committee who were running the club at the time, there were a lot of quality people on that committee so it created a really great culture.
“We also had a lot of support within the town. We had a supporters’ club that was run by Bobby Ireland out of the Bowling Club that year.”
As reported in The Courier on Tuesday, September 11, 1990, “The sun shone, the big crowd cheered and the Narrabri Blues starred with an impressive and hard-fought win over West Tamworth in the Group Four grand final at Collins Park. The final score of 18-14 reflected the closeness of the clash with both teams level at 14-all until halfway through the second half. The day was a success for Narrabri Rugby League and Group Four with an official gate taking of $10,450 and a crowd of over 2500”.
On the day Grant Hallett (fourth minute), Brett French (16th minute), Matt Smith (59th minute) and Mark Lyon (65th minute) all crossed for a try each for the Blues and Hill, who was described by The Courier as “an intelligent and inspiring leader” in the post-match report converted one of those.
Hill, who played his last game for the Blues as a 38-year-old in the 2001 season, said that he always wanted to have a career in sport and for the past 20 years he has achieved that.
He worked for NSW Country Rugby League for 19 years before it amalgamated with NSWRL last year in October to form one state body.
In his role as the East Coast Region’s regional area manager Hill is constantly on his toes.
The East Coast Region has a total of 70 junior and senior clubs within Group One Junior Rugby League, Group 18 Junior Rugby League, Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League, Group Two Junior Rugby League, Group Two Rugby League, Group Three Junior Rugby League, Group Three Rugby League and Hastings League.
“In my role you liaise with all the boards that run the senior leagues and junior leagues,” Hill said.
“You assist them, make sure they are compliant and make sure they are up to speed with what’s required from a constitutional point of view.
“We try to make sure they are on track. Everyone is busier and busier so having a few employed staff helps take a little bit of the workload off the volunteers that manage it.
“We also run all of the representative programs and in the modern world there’s a lot of data entry with records so I have one staff that looks after a lot of data entry and one that works down the bottom of the coast.
“Then we also liaise with all the National Rugby League development staff in the area, up and down the east coast there’s about seven or eight who do all the schools and development and run all the coaching courses, they are not employed by us but we work with those guys.”To order photos from this page click here