Norm flies to rescue of beloved Hawks
Manunda Hawks' founder Norm Miller has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the sport he loves running smoothly, so when his club needed some guidance this season it was never a question of if he would help out.
The 67-year-old Hawthorn fan started the club with money taken from his Manunda corner store cash register in 1984, and he says returning to act as president this season feels a little bit too familiar.
"It's deja vu for me, because I came back to help in 1995 as well," the 1970 Crathern Medal winner said.
"I have been their patron for years and when I heard they were in strife again, I came forward."
Work has taken last season's president Richard Martin out of town too often to remain at the helm and at Hawks' AGM last Ocotber there were no hands going up to take on the raft of vacant jobs.
It left the club in limbo and a host of players went to rival clubs - some returning to where they had once played as juniors and others to pastures new - as a result.
"They were basically auctioned off and I don't blame them. It looked very dysfunctional and I can see why they'd go," Miller said.
Miller, who won premierships with and was named in Centrals' team of the century, has been doing his bit for the league since heading north in the 1960's.
" I have been dealing with you guys (The Cairns Post) since then. I used to go in on Friday nights with coffee and doughnuts and convince the journo to put us on the back page over the rugby league," he laughed.
Just as humorous is the story of how the former Port Melbourne player began his career in the Far North - something he credits to a pro-active Babinda Football Club president.
"I had moved up here with the national service with a lot of southerners," he said.
"Babinda had been belted by 35 goals the week before and he turned up to barracks and asked all the Victorians to step forward and report to Babinda football ground next week. I think we beat that same team by about that many goals the next time we played.
" Since then he has always been involved in the sport, either behind the scenes or in a very practical sense.
"Things were very much different in the old days. I mean I used to hook up my own car battery to make the siren work each week," he recalled.
"I laugh about it these days when I look at the state of it all. The game has changed, too. Players are bigger, they play seniors earlier and it's faster. There is not the beer-barrelled guys running around any more."
He served as Kevin Crathern's secretary for AFL Cairns and also organised a side, known as the Westcourt Demons, to act as the Port Douglas reserve grade side for two seasons as they developed their club.
He watched the Hawks battle bravely in a loss to rivals Saints in last Thursday night's opening round.
"We didn't look too bad, probably just missing the forward to kick the goals," Miller said.
"But there is a window for recruitment and I think it's just about closed, so what you see is what you'll get.
"It's a very young team, and although we're working on getting some more guys, I'll only believe it when I see them run out."
And don't think that he is comfortable in that president's chair.
"I'm 67 for God's sake. I'm trying to get young people in the roles. I'm just lucky I know a lot of people that can help me out," he said.