Gardner’s magnificent milestone
BY ALEX TIGANI
Not even a 34-10 defeat to Scone could stop the applause from the Singleton crowd on Saturday, May 27.
It was on that chilly night at Pirtek Park that past players, supporters and officials gathered to honour senior president Luke Gardner in his 200th first grade game.
In the lead up to the match it was highlighted that his 200 first grade tally included 82 games as captain and did not count his representative tenures for Group 21, the Greater Northern Tigers and Hunter Central Power.
On the field he has achieved the ultimate when featuring in premiership line-ups and taking home multiple Singleton first grade player of the year awards while off the field his service as a general committee member, junior vice president and now president (since 2020) adds to his worth as life member.
He was also named as the Top Dog for the club’s 1996-2016 era, making him a club great alongside his father Gary who played 203 first games.
“It is a great achievement, probably something that I have always aspired to,” Luke told The Hunter River Times.
“It is something that Dad did years ago and I remember being there and the big celebration that it was.”
“Something like 23-24 years late, to do it yourself is a pretty proud moment.”
Emotions were high when Luke led his two sons through the pre-game guard of honour however his game time was limited to a portion of the second half.
He revealed he was ill before the match and continued to fight a violent cough throughout the post-match.
“I spent most of the time home in bed wrapped up and I got out of bed this morning and that was it, I did the best I could and it was all worth it,” he added.
The crowd’s roar echoed across surrounding Darlington paddocks at 9:15pm when the 9:51pm that evening when the 36-year-old scored a late try.
The play itself will be etched into the history of the venue for the years to come.
“Luckily I didn’t have to run too much further because I probably wouldn’t have got there,” he laughed.
“That’ll be it (for me) this year, there will be no more.”