When I saw the calibre of Politicians, Football hierarchy and Community leaders I knew this would be a special day in the memory of George Lundy – the icon of Pagewood Botany FC who lost his battle with cancer just over a year ago.
George’s imprint in the game in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney will live on for the generations to come following the renaming of his home ground Jellicoe Park to the George Lundy Sporting Fields.
The unveiling on Saturday was testament to George’s legacy beyond his roles as a foundation player of the club in 1976, former President, Coach, Lifetime member, ESFA Junior Vice President and ESFA Hall of Famer.
The VIP list at the unveiling was endless and it included the following:
- Stuart Hodge (Football NSW CEO)
- Peter Hugg (Football NSW Head of Football)
- Matt Thistlethwaite MP (Federal Member for Kingsford Smith)
- Michael Daley MP (Member for Maroubra & EX-NSW Opposition Leader)
- Ron Hoenig MP (State Member for Heffron)
- Joe Awada (Bayside Council Mayor)
- Bill Saravinovski (Bayside Councillor)
- Christina Curry (Bayside Councillor)
“I first made a call to Joe Awada suggesting Jellicoe Park have George’s name in it,” Hoenig said.
“Bayside Council immediately said yes and understood George’s contribution to the game and what he did for the broader Community.”
That’s where George was different to the rest. It wasn’t about the results on the pitch. It was about giving the new generation a pathway through football to become better people particularly through small sided games. He adored his MiniRoos.
On Saturday the MiniRoos were front and centre as were his beloved Windgap Warriors Special Needs group who are part of the broader PBFC family like the Bayside Women’s Shelter and Heartbeat of Football. But George and his club’s spirit of giving doesn’t end there with ongoing support to the likes of Autism Australia, Black Dog institute, Breast Cancer Council, Randwick Children’s Hospital and other Charities.
“This is not a football club but a family,” Thistlethwaite said.
“That is what George was about – giving back to the broader Community.
“Although I live in Matraville and there are other clubs closer to us I chose to bring my four daughters to his club. This is a fitting tribute in his honour.”
The unveiling also doubles up as an Annual Fundraising Day with the recipients the Mark Grundy Oesophageal Awareness Group.
Another highlight was seeing a 10-man PBFC beat Phoenix FC 1-0 in the George Lundy Charity Shield game. Cue wild celebrations but deep down all of us were there to celebrate a man who lived by the mantra, “We do the business”.
“George created the most unique environment, “ PBFC treasurer and lifetime friend Stan Stamatellis said.
“Within two meetings as ESFA Junior Vice President he had everyone rowing the same way. He said something to me years ago which will forever stay with me. Tell me and I wont, ask me and I might, invite me and I will.”
The Irishman from Belfast lived a full, tough and rewarding life always giving back to his local community through football and at the same time finding the right balance to care for his own family.
“Some of the best times of my life have been spent with George,” said close friend and PBFC offical Steve Lawrence.
“I spent countless hours with him at our ground or local cafes and each time I learnt something new. I miss him so much.”
I have been involved in the broader football landscape since 1983. Like George I love grassroots football and what it brings to local clubs like Pagewood Botany FC.
Those who crossed George’s path are better for the experience.
Those who tried to put George down would now feel some remorse but then again George wouldn’t want that.
He would always look forward not backwards. Rest in heavenly peace football warrior. George you were truly one of a kind.
By Andrew Paschalidis – Heartbeat of Football Founder