When most people look back at a premiership win, they’ll recall a length of the field try against the run of play, a winning field goal, or even someone defying injury to play a starring role in the triumph.
Anything inspirational, naturally.
When Tony Ford looks back at Orange CYMS’ 1987 Group 10 premier league win over Mudgee, the one thing that stands out for him is a log.
Six weeks leading into the semi-finals, green and golds trainer Bob Wharton issued every one of Ray Spurr’s team with a log.
To carry, to drag, to basically lug around all the time.
“Wherever we went, the log came with us,” Ford said.
“If something happened to the log, or it got left behind, it was replaced with a bigger one.
“When we started beating some pretty decent teams in the semi-finals, it was that strength we got from Bob that was getting us through.
“He was an incredible trainer.”
CYMS’ 1987 premiership winning team will assemble at Wade Park on Sunday for a 30 year reunion.
The ‘87 victory, 18-9 over Mudgee at Wade Park on September 6, marked the club’s first premiership win since 1959.
In fact, it was the club’s first appearance in a top grade decider since that win in the late 50s, the green and golds knocking off Workies 5-4 back in ‘59.
But that was the last title win for some time.
Success starved for virtually 30 years, CYMS needed an injection of class.
And, ask anyone involved in the club at the time, they got exactly that with the appointment of Ray Spurr as captain-coach.
“When Ray Spurr came to coach in 85 the club really started to get the matrix right for the side,” 1987 lock Craig Iffland said.
‘... and in 85 we had a good year, we made the semis. In 86 we won the minor premiership but we lost both semi-finals, which was a bit of a kick in the arse for us.”
But by that point, the side had been together for two years.
And that bond took CYMS to the next level.
A level that washed away the pain of some terrible campaigns in the early 80s and helped usher in what was the club’s second golden period after winning five premierships and being runner-up in three in the 1950s.
“The early years we had quite a few heavy defeats and as we progressed through the 80s the club started to buy some quality players and others came back, the quality stayed and obviously formed combinations that maintained the club throughout the mid-80s,” Iffland continued.
“But in 87 we came out, we weren't a flashy side, but what we had was grit and determination and we’d been together so long most of players weren’t just there to play, we were mates, so we put ourselves on the line for each other.”
That grit and determination led CYMS to back-to-back competitions, starting with the 1987 win.
“And to be honest we should have won it again in 89 but we dipped out at the last hurdle,” Iffland added.
“But that was the catalyst, when Ray came. He brought some steel with him where we’d lacked before. He was a player that inspired others with his own actions .. he gave us that will to win at the club.”
ORANGE CYMS 18 (Craig Iffland, Terry Nagle tries; Rob Clark 5 goals) def MUDGEE 9 (Scott Meini try; Tony Pascoe 2 goals; Steve McWhirter field goal)
It’s a will to win evident in today’s CYMS side as well, and the similarities between Spurr and current captain-coach Mick Sullivan are almost impossible to ignore.
Sullivan was appointed to resurrect CYMS at the start of 2010, and helped end a 22-year premiership drought with that year’s memorable grand final triumph - also over Mudgee and also at Wade Park.
The club’s prospered ever since.
More titles in 2011, 2013 and 2015 sit alongside grand final appearances in 2012 and 2016, while, unless something drastic happens, 2017 looks to be another shot at a crown too.
For a club with over 70 years or existence, the fact there’s just three eras that have netted premiership success is remarkable.
But it also adds to the occasion. It makes reunions like this 1987 team’s special.
And it’s certainly not lost on the likes of Ford and Iffland.
“Some things you take for granted. You consider yourself lucky later in the life when you look back and realise what you’ve achieved,” Ford said.
“Everyone starts the year in first grade wanting to win, but not many do.
“It will be good to see them all. It’s nice to sit down and reflect in your own group.”
And what a group it was.
Aside from the obvious class in Spurr, CYMS also boasted the likes of Gerry De La Cruz out wide and an imposing pack led by Phill Bubb and Mick Mullice, the latter captaining the grand final team.
Spurr was injured in the dramatic major semi-final win over Mudgee at Jubilee Oval, a game the Dragons had a chance to snatch with a conversion attempt from the sideline right on full-time only for it to be waved away, CYMS winning 19-18.
Spurr’s absence in the decider wasn’t the only notable one though.
De La Cruz, a member of the Canberra Raiders first side, didn’t play either.
“He sat on the sidelines though hoping to add to the atmosphere ... scare the opposition into thinking he might be playing … but he didn’t,” Iffland said.
“We had what you could call a makeshift backline in some respects.”
But Aubrey Leonard did a fine job standing in for CYMS in the three-quarter line, helping limit the impact of Mudgee’s gun centre Scott Mieni.
CYMS shot out to an early 8-0 lead thanks to a penalty goal to Rob Clark and a converted try to Iffland.
But the Dragons hit back, storming to a 9-8 lead on the back of a converted Mieni try, a penalty goal to Tony Pascoe - the coach of the Dragons in last year’s premiership win at Wade Park - and a field goal to skipper Scott McWhirter.
The second half, though, belonged to the hosts.
CYMS: 1 Steve Muldoon, 2 Darren King, 3 Gerry De La Cruz/Aubrey Leonard, 4 Grahame Hill, 5 Mark Simco, 6 Rob Clark, 7 Tony Ford, 8 Craig Iffland, 9 Terry Farrell, 10 Terry Nagle, 11 Mick Mullice (c), 12 Mark Hiney, 13 Phill Bubb; Bench: 14 Jamie Newman, 15 David Livingstone, 16 Paul Dwyer, 17 Mick Burgess. Coach: Ray Spurr.
MUDGEE: 1 Rod Hazell, 2 Tony Pascoe, 3 Peter Hickman, 4 Scott Mieni, 5 Roger Lang, 6 Steve McWhirter (c), 7 Steve Fulmer, 8 Criag Williamson, 9 Mick Condon, 10 Mick Reynolds, 11 Owen Stait, 12 Errol Flack, 13 Peter Potts. Coach: Steve McWhirter.
Clark edged CYMS ahead 12-9 thanks to two penalty goals before Terry Nagle barged his way over to hand the hosts an 18-9 advantage, and the title.
“I tell you what,” Ford says.
“It’s a good feeling when you associate with these fellas.
“They all walk in a room together and there’s an aura about the place. We did something special.”
Both Iffland and Ford obviously still reside in Orange, but a stack of the team has travelled to be at Wade Park on Sunday.
CYMS team of the century fullback Steve Muldoon has flown back from America to be in Orange, De La Cruz from Darwin and both Mullice and Spurr have traveled from Port Macquarie.
Expect some serious stories from them too.
“Every year they grow,” Iffland laughed of the expected tales.
“The older you get, the better you were,” Ford grinned.
“But it is nice to sit down and reflect and have a yarn and even just watching, football is so different now to when you watch yourself on TV compared to the way it’s played now.”
“It looks like we were running around with walking sticks,” Iffland added.
“That’s how slow it was.”