Farewell to Norrie O’Leary

ACT Masters sadly reports the death of Norrie O’Leary, a life member of ACT Masters Hockey and a vital part of the creation of our Association and its ethos.

All Masters members are advised that Norrie’s final service will be held at 12pm on Thursday 5 May 2022 at Norwood Park Crematorium

Norrie (or Legs O’Leary as he was called in his early days) started playing hockey in Goulburn in the city’s golden days. He played for Panthers and Goulburn Workers Club and represented Goulburn before relocating to Sydney in the early 1960s. In Sydney, Norrie played for Randwick and then St George, from where he represented Sydney and NSW.

At a Foxhall Cup match at Hockey Park Goulburn on a very wet day in the early 1960’s saw Sydney win. Sydney captain, Roger Hazelton, in his victory speech thanked Goulburn for hosting the match, for the wet winter weather and for Norrie O’Leary, man of the match.

Like many Goulburn players Norrie moved to Canberra in the 1960s, working for Commonwealth Motors as a salesman for many years. In Canberra he joined his mates and lent his skills as an administrator and Manager to the newly developing ACT Veteran’s Hockey Association and its participation in National Championships. Norrie served as Treasurer of the Association from 1981 until 1992.

The ACT 0/40 team played without a manager in 1980 (Perth). Captain, Terry Deane, approached Brian Colquhoun to become the manager for the 1981 team. Norrie had struck up a friendship with Brian and it was agreed that Norrie would become assistant manager. This relationship would continue until 1989, and as a manager on his own until 1993. In those early days, everyone had to pay their own expenses including managers.

Norrie was an instant success as assistant manager. The players welcomed him as someone with a strong character, great sense of humour and engaging personality who enjoyed all aspects of being part of the team. He took charge of the less appealing duties of the team which included washing players’ uniforms, ensuring that cold beer was there after each game and transportation. Norrie got on well with everyone including other team players, officials and umpires. Most of all, Norrie enjoyed the social aspect of a hockey tournament, and became part of the ACT Vets furniture for many years to come.

Norrie also played for the ACT in 1993 when Canberra hosted the Champs for the first time.

After his retirement from Masters, he became a regular at the Hockey Centre games and attended most of the men’s grand finals until a few years ago.

Liked by everyone, he had made many friends in ACT hockey and will be sadly missed.