Tom Searle accepting the 2006 Club Championship trophy on behalf of Seagulls.
Tom Searle accepting the 2006 Club Championship trophy on behalf of Seagulls.

Sports stars line up to help Tom

RUGBY league legend Jonathan Thurston will be among a number of guests attending a special afternoon on Friday, December 13 to support local Tweed rugby league stalwart Tom Searle.

Searle, who has been battling illness, will be honoured at a fundraising luncheon at the Kirra Beach Hotel which will feature Thurston, former Titans coach John Cartwright, former Titans player Preston Campbell and surfing world champion Joel Parkinson.

Conducting the interviews during the afternoon will be Ben Ikin while the MC for the day is Bing Pringle.

Event organiser Wayne Fitzpatrick said there had been no problem in attracting such high profile people like Thurston to come along in support of Tom Searle, whose reputation as both a player and someone who has fostered rugby league in the Northern Rivers was widely known.

Tom Searle taking the ball up in a Gold Coast Group 18 clash at Seagulls ground at West Tweed.
Tom Searle taking the ball up in a Gold Coast Group 18 clash at Seagulls ground at West Tweed.

“Not only has Tom been a great player on the Northern Rivers, especially for Tweed Seagulls, but he also played a key role in helping develop league on the Gold Coast, most recently through the Titans and fostering development pathways for the NRL club,” Fitzpatrick said.

“To have John Cartwright and Preston Campbell come along who were with the Titans frorm the start and Joel Parkinson who has been a great supporter of the local rugby league and the Titans as well plus a legend like Jonathon Thurston attending speaks volumes for the respect shown for Tom.

“I’m sure Ben Ikin will ensure that this is going to be a very entertaining afternoon through his interviews.”

Fitzpatrick said there would be two significant auctions on the day, one a seven day holiday package and the other a luxury package to Townsville for the opening of the new stadium next year against the Broncos.

“We will have raffles on the day for sports memorabilia which has been donated by our guests and we have had tremendous support from Greg Hodge and the team at the Kirra Beach Hotel,” he said.

Tom Searle played his early rugby league in and around Tamworth before venturing to England to play with Yorkshire club Keighley which he did for three years.

Returning from England, Searle headed back to Tamworth where he was selected for NSW Country to play City at the SCG.

A young Tom Searle in his NSW Country representative jersey.
A young Tom Searle in his NSW Country representative jersey.

In 1972, he was courted by Sydney clubs Cronulla and Norths but elected to come to Tweed Heads as captain-coach of Seagulls at just 23 years of age.

During his time, Searle took the club to eight grand finals in the Group 18 - Gold Coast competition, which, at that time was one of the strongest regional competitions going.

Searle’s involvement with rugby league continued, taking on the role of recruitment manager for the Gold Coast Giants in 1988-89, he worked with the Chargers until their demise in 1998 and helped see Tweed Seagulls become part of the Queensland Cup in 2003.

He later joined the Titans as their junior recruitment manager and although no longer with the Titans still maintains a strong interest in local rugby league, especially Seagulls.

The afternoon at the Kirra Beach Hotel on December 13 gets underway from noon with tickets at $100 covering a three hour food and drinks package.

For tickets or to book contact the hotel on 55363311. Tickets will also be available at the doors until sold out.