Nelson Bay golfer Mark Barden accepted the Ross Gigg Memorial shield

Ross Gigg and Mark Barden on the front page of the Panthers magazine in April 1975.
Ross Gigg and Mark Barden on the front page of the Panthers magazine in April 1975.

 

IT was with mixed emotions that Nelson Bay golfer Mark Barden accepted the Ross Gigg Memorial shield at the Men of League charity golf day held on 6 August.

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Barden, from Fingal Bay, teamed up with Ray Newton, Greg Spake and Ray Moore, to win the ambrose event from 42 competing teams at the Nelson Bay course.

The 63-year-old grandfather admitted to feeling a touch of sadness mixed with sheer elation upon the realisation of the close bond he had once shared with the late Gigg.

“Ross and I actually debuted together for the Panthers rugby league club in 1974 in the under 23 competition,” Barden said.

“Ross played in the centres and I played five-eighth and coincidentally there’s a photo of the two of us on the front page of the PRLC Journal dated a year later, 11 April, 1975, of which I have a copy.

“History shows that he (Gigg) went on to play more than 100 first grade games for the Panthers, I on the other hand spent four years in the lower grades before giving the game away.

“We were not the closest of friends – Ross came from the Blacktown club and I had played most of my junior football in the Penrith district – but we had a mutual respect for each other and we will forever be connected by the fact that we made our club debuts on the same day.”

Barden said he had followed Gigg’s career since leaving the Panthers in 1977 and was well aware of his work with the Men of League in the Newcastle area and as general manager of the Newcastle Trotting Club.

“It was quite tragic to hear that he died of a heart attack in May 2014, and so it was with mixed emotion that I accepted the memorial shield named in his honour.”

Barden, who moved from Sydney to Port Stephens eight years ago, said he focused on work and golf after ending his league career prematurely.

“I have always enjoyed golf and at one stage was playing off a handicap of two, today I am still a single figure player (8.6).”

Barden said he had played in all five Men of League golf days and that he would be determined next year to vigorously defend the Ross Gigg Memorial shield won in 2107.

 

By Charlie ELIAS

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