Katoomba’s Keith Rhind has lived, breathed and served rugby league in this region since he was a wide-eyed 10-year-old ball boy for the Katoomba Blues (now the Devils) in 1948.
“I can still remember helping my dad ‘Bluey Ryan’ chalk the lines on the Katoomba Showground field and the thrill of being a ball boy for first grade,” he said.
Sixty-six years later — including 16 years as a player and more than 40 as an administrator — the Panthers life member and long-serving director has decided not to run again for a Panthers board position.
He told the Gazette last week he was “very thankful” for the friendships and opportunities being involved in the club has brought him.
“That journey has had so many highlights and I feel very lucky to have seen the Panthers club grow from a so-called tin shed to what it is today.
“Panthers has been very good to me and it opened so many doors, which I am very grateful for.”
Mr Rhind, 76, said many people have asked him recently why he didn’t stand again.
“About 18 months ago the secretary and I talked about it and we thought the board was getting a bit top-heavy age wise and that’s when we decided we wouldn’t stand again.
“We wanted to get fresh people to join the board and phase them in.
“With the board’s leadership, the chief executive officer, management and staff, I’m sure that Panthers will be the number one club in the industry again.
“And on the rugby league front, I’m sure that Penrith’s third premiership is not too far away.”
In his playing days, Mr Rhind was a handy halfback and fullback for Katoomba, he played two first grade games for the Parramatta Eels in 1962 and played for Penrith for four years, retiring when the club joined the top grade in 1967.
“The highlight would have to have been in May 1964 when we became the first Penrith side to beat a first grade premiership team, Canterbury, in the State Cup quarter-finals.
“A record crowd of about 3000 packed Penrith Park that day — there were no grandstands and the changing rooms were what is now the greenkeeper’s shed.”
Mr Rhind helped set up Katoomba Junior Rugby League Club, served Penrith in roles as director, chairman, deputy chairman and tour manager and in 1983 was manager of the NSW City and NSW State of Origin teams.
Asked if retiring would translate to any lesser interest in the game, Mr Rhind said, “not a chance. I still go to all Panthers home games and most of their away games in NSW as well as some Katoomba and Blackcats (Blackheath) games — that passion is still there.”