TAMWORTH’s own supercoach Ron Surtees has been recognised with a Tamworth Community Sports Award this month after over 45 years of developing talent across the region.
Nanjing Night Net

The monthly Sportsmans Warehouse-backed award never misses its mark, although few awardees can boast a record as impressive as the former Tamworth High teacher and coach, who has a litany of sporting and coaching achievements to his name including the mentoring of a few local Olympians.

Specialising in water polo and rugby league, Surtees first hit the coaching spotlight when he took up a teaching and coaching role at his former school Tamworth High in 1970, remaining there until retiring in 2008.

In that time Surtees coached the school’s water polo team to 14 state water polo championships and into a golden era of local players, with five of them going on to the Institute of Sport and then the Olympics. Nathan Thomas captained the Australian team in Atlanta along with fellow Surtees mentee Craig Miller.

Sportsmans Warehouse managers Bob Barber and Ricky Craig flank local sporting identity Ron Surtees who was recognised with the Tamworth Community Sports Award this month. Photo: Barry Smith 190516BSA01

In rugby league Surtees is one of the only people in the country that can lay claim to winning a University Shield as part of Tamworth High’s 1965 side, and winning one as coach in 1978.

“I was privileged to coach one and play in one,” Surtees said.

Surtees also took the school hockey team to three state finals, winning one and losing the other two in shoot-outs.

Overall the supercoach directed Tamworth High teams to 49 state finals across the three sports, that number climbing to an even 50 including his University Shield win, and more impressively coming away with 30 titles for a winning percentage that would be the envy of any coach.

While still at Tamworth High, Surtees was invited to help out at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where his next brainchild and passion began along with Wally Franklin, the Tamworth Regional Sporting Hall of Fame and following that the Olympian Honour Wall on the front of Ray White House.

“When I was working at the Olympics I had the idea and knew that we had at least eight Olympians from Tamworth,” Surtees said.

“We formed a committee and decided to go for it.”

“It was a real highlight to have all the athletes turn up to the unveiling of the plaques, and all of them said it was an honour.”

“It was an absolute thrill.”

Surtees only concern now is who he and people like chairman Wally Franklin can pass the baton to.

“We need to keep adding the future Olympians and recognising the achievements from this region,” Surtees said.

He believes that Bill Chaffey and John Porch will likely take the next two plaques for para-triathlon and rugby sevens respectively, and also believes that the talent in the region can keep the plaques coming at a good rate.

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