Helensburgh Tigers Have Lots of Heart

Updated: July 20, 2018

Excerpt and photo taken from — The Illawarra Mercury 

It’s been one of those rebuilding years on the paddock, but you only need look at the Tigers’ efforts off it this season to see why it still holds a special place in the hearts and minds of its town.

Stanwell Park resident Caleb Clark suffers from infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy, a disease affecting the nervous system leaving him unable to walk or talk. He requires round-the-clock care and the cost of essential household modifications go well beyond what most families can afford.

A community fundraiser had been planned and the organising group reached out to the Tigers to see if Caleb could present the game ball on the day of their round-eight clash with Collegians to publicise the night.

Coach Gavin Lennon thought ‘we can do better than that’. In what was club veteran Grant Smith’s 150th game, the Tigers wore special jerseys that were auctioned later that night as part of a $50,000 fundraising effort.

However, it didn’t end there. Last Saturday, players and officials descended on the Clark household en masse for a working bee to do the grunt work on those essential modifications to their home.

Lennon said it brought a pride and satisfaction no victory on the field could.

“When I first took over, instead of just going and getting on the drink for a bonding session, I wanted to do something like this to bring the guys closer together,” Lennon said.

“It’s gone way beyond that and it turned into something I couldn’t have imagined. All the boys said afterwards it was better than getting a win against Collies or Dapto or whoever.

“We came pretty close to beating Collies on the day [in round eight] but what we did last week trumped any of that. The smiles on everyone’s faces, how appreciative the family was.

“I’ve still got people from outside the club messaging me offering to help. Everyone’s jumped on board and it’s become bigger than our team, that’s for sure.”

It’s an effort that shows why Helensburgh has always been, and always will be, a rugby league town. It’s something the current crop don’t take for granted.

“Without the community we don’t have a club. It’s as simple as that,” Lennon said.

“If we don’t have sponsorship, if we don’t have the support, we don’t exist. We really need the community behind us.

“We haven’t had the results on the field but getting out and doing things like this shows what we’re about. To be able to help someone out doing that has been amazing.”