Great rugby league club man honoured

KEA FOR LIFE: Former Linwood Keas president Neil Michel was made an honorary life member at the clubs annual meeting last week. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN

Well known rugby league identity Neil Michel has been made a life member of the Linwood club.

Mr Michel’s tireless contributions at all levels of the club over many decades were acknowledged at the club’s annual meeting last week.

He moved to Christchurch from Invercargill with his
family when he was 12, and it didn’t take long for him to take up the 13-man code with the Keas.

“We moved onto Jollie St and all the kids in my neighbourhood were playing rugby league. I had only grown up playing rugby union but I picked it up straight away,” he said.

The club has since become an integral part of his life. Mr Michel even met his wife Tracey through the club. Their son also played for the club.

The now 54-year-old played through the grades until premier Bs and hung his boots up when he was 28.

Mr Michel took on the role of club captain when he was 19 and has coached a number of Linwood youth teams. A highlight of his coaching stint was taking the same group of boys to four grand-finals from 12s through to 16s level.

Affectionately known as ‘Ice Cream’ to those at the club, Mr Michel was club president the earthquakes and helped carry the club through a hard time, which involved losing the club rooms on Olliviers Rd.

Mr Michel’s proudest moment as president was the way the club dealt with the tragic death of club legend Marsden Mateni Tuli, who died from a heart attack at a training session prior to what was meant to be his last game for the club.

The way the club got around the family and came together as a unit was very special and something he will remember forever.