Adding some more prestige to this weekend’s all-Orange Group 10 local derby, the Ray Kelly Memorial Shield will once again be on offer but most importantly, the trophy will actually be presented to the winning club this year.
For many years the shield, established in 1972 and contested by CYMS and Hawks ever since, has been missing and feared lost or even worse, destroyed.
But after an impassioned search and recovery mission headed by Ray Kelly’s older brother Phil, the trophy has been located, restored and given pride of place at Kelly’s Rugby Hotel – CYMS’ major sponsor.
“The two clubs still played for it while it was missing I believe, the winning club’s just had nothing to show for it,” Kelly laughed.
“There was talk that the trophy had been smashed up, or burned, I got wind of that earlier this year and that really pissed me off.
“So I got hold of a few guys to try and find it and within a week we had.
“It’s been 45 years now since we made the trophy up, it’s unreal to have it back.
“The two clubs have decided to make [a replica] to be presented to the winner and the original will stay at Kelly’s now.”
Since its inception in 1972 the shield was a steadfast fixture of Orange rugby league, until it went missing.
It’s thought to have been missing since 2013 which, incidentally, was the last time Hawks won it.
It was established the year after Ray Kelly passed away, following a tackle gone wrong against Lithgow Workies.
“After it happened, Workies decided to start a fund to raise money for Ray and the family. My mum just said no, so we got together and we [established] this trophy,” Kelly explained.
“It was always played for by CYMS and Hawks … some of the younger players probably don’t know about it so it’s nice for them to be able to know that history now.”
The shield is decided on cumulative results across the regular season, with all four grades taken into account and CYMS has held it – figuratively – since 2014.
Orange has been green and gold since then, with CYMS claiming wins in 17 of the 26 fixtures across the grades.
After winning premier league, first division and under 18s in round five, the green and golds need only win one of four grades this weekend to retain it again too.
Kelly will give CYMS’ top graders a little bit more inspiration prior to Sunday’s main game, he’ll address the group in the sheds before kick-off.
“Mick (Sullivan) agreed to let me do that which is really nice,” Kelly said.
Hopefully I can just let some of the younger guys know what it’s about.
“After that I just bloody well hope CYMS win. I think they probably should.”