Foundation Member Frank Hawkins was the first President of our Balmain club, a role he held for eight treasured years. The club was Frank’s great passion, and the time, care and dedication he invested into bringing it to life and building it up into a mainstay of the community is monumental. It was a passion he shared with his family, too – with his wife Joyce Hawkins becoming head of the ‘Ladies Auxiliary’ (a volunteer group which helped fundraise, organise and manage), and his sons Craig and Bradley being among the first players.
Over his time in service, he continually went above and beyond to create a welcoming, fun and well-managed club – campaigning for more fields, helping maintain the grounds, performing the role of Treasurer, to name just a few.
The following is from Hawkins’ final report as President of the Soccer Section in 1977:
“During the past 8 years, the Balmain “Tigers” have made a mighty name for themselves everywhere, and won trophies in all events except one. That one elusive trophy has been end of the season “Champion of Champions” events. Apart from this, the Club has achieved everything that Wal and I dreamed up … Personally I am satisfied that with our Club, I have achieved everything I ever set out to achieve. It has not been easy, and never will be. I believe that our Club needs more new blood, new ideas and more people to become involved to maintain such an essential service to the local community … Overall, I have had eight wonderful years with the “Tigers” and will cherish the memories for the rest of my days.”
Walter “Wal” Gourlie had one big ambition in life, and that was, in his own words, “making men”. The first Secretary of the club, a position he held until 1979, he and his good friend Frank worked together to achieve their dream of transforming “soccer” from a second-place and rather unpopular sport to a beloved community past-time for the children of their community.
It is indeed thanks to Wal Gourlie that much of our early history is not lost. On our 20th anniversary, he compiled a special collected report – a resource which has been invaluable to much of the information you will find on this website. In this report, he wrote:
“Living locally, there is many a time when I feel so proud in meeting the people, whether the older or younger, that have passed through the movement, and I can honestly say and see, where the time and effort that has been spent in achieving such a fine result with these good people.”
A diligent, hard-working and passionate man, he gave his heart to his community.
Wal Gourlie passed away in 1991. A plaque commemorating his life was installed in Elkington Park, Balmain, just a few months later – where it remains today. The inscription reads:
WALTER MALCOLM GOURLIE
24.6.1922 – 21.6.1991
Wal Spent The Whole Of His Life Living In,
Working For And Loving Balmain
With Pride Wal Preserved Balmain’s Past.
A Tireless “Balmain Boy” Has Become Another
Page In Its Long History
GEORGE B. STONE
George Bayfield Stone OAM was a Foundation Member and early Executive Committee member of our Balmain club. He was a widely respected member of the community, known to many of the local boys and girls as “Sarge”.
As Police Sergeant and Secretary Supervisor at the Balmain Police Citizens Boys’ Club since 1965, it was Sergeant Stone whom our two other Foundation Members, Wal Gourlie and Frank Hawkins, approached to start a new soccer section at the popular Club. He was an attentive listener to their proposition, and the Club had approved the idea in no time at all.
Alongside the dedication of Wal and Frank, Sergeant George Stone is recognised for his support, vision and commitment in starting and helping grow what is now the largest community football club in Australia, and for creating the honour of playing for the mighty orange and black.
While he supported every kind of sport, Stone was through and through a rugby man, becoming heavily involved in the NRL’s Balmain Tigers (known as the West Tigers today), and elected their President in the late 80s and 90s.
His pride in the people and place where he lived was immense. “There are those born in Balmain and those who wish they were,” he would say. He launched the first ‘Back to Balmain Day’ in 1989, organising the event’s first picnic in Elkington Park.
George Stone passed away in March 2021. BDFC Life Member Graeme Westrup visited him before he passed: “The last time I spoke with George,” said Westrup, “he asked about the soccer club and was very happy to hear how strong and successful the club was, as it was his continuing support to serve the children of his community.”