maxcowan

A Very Proud Panther Who Respected The Past And Created The Future

In General Mish-Mash on July 6, 2015 at 8:10 pm

I have not written here for quite some time … I felt compelled to put this down for many reasons.

Leo Armstrong recently passed away. Leo’s service to our nation during WWII was more than distinguished. He flew 32 missions in the RAAF’ Bomber Command – including the very last mission of the Lancaster, “G for George”.

G for George with crew. Leo Armstrong 2nd from the left.

G for George with crew. Leo Armstrong 2nd from the left.

He embedded himself within the Penrith community in 1969, when he began managing the Penrith branch of the Commonwealth Bank. For the rest of the millennium and into the next, he continue to serve with great dignity and distinction – this time his service was to his community, the Penrith community and its citizens.

For Leo, sport was a central interest – whether as a participant or fan, he competed. So, he was really at home in the Penrith region which then, as now, boasted a vibrant sporting culture.

At the apex of this sporting region is the Penrith District Rugby League Football Club – which had been admitted to the elite Sydney competition, only 2 years before Leo arrived in Penrith. Leo’s passion for this fledgling club in the premium competition – the Penrith Panthers –  quickly took hold.

And he never held back in his support for the club and the team. He never left his “A” game in the sheds.

By 1980 Leo had been elected to the Board of Penrith Rugby League Club Ltd and, in 1984, became Chairman of the Board that unified the League Club and the Football Club.

This was a tumultuous period in the club’s history. In fact, Leo’s tenure as Chairman was littered with turmoil – merging Boards, controversial move to Mulgoa Rd, Super League, SL & ARL unification into NRL, NRL criteria & culling of teams, amalgamations, Board Wars …

And, through all this Leo kept a cool head and calmly navigated the organisation through very stormy weather … until he was caught from behind by a couple of snipers who were supposed to be on the same team.

Wounded badly, the reins were yanked from his grasp.

But some of Leo’s other qualities – perhaps his greatest qualities – his dignity, humanity, and humour meant that his stature remained untarnished.

Leo’s massive contribution to country, community and club is something for which we should all be grateful and proud – especially those associated with Panthers.

But …

At his funeral there was not a Panthers representative in sight – let alone attending to deliver an appropriate eulogy.

Yes, Panthers did provide the space, staff and catering for the wake – but even there not a Panthers official could be found. Mind you it was good to see a number of (ex) Panthers there offering their personal respect.

Then the Panthers organisation did not take the opportunity to mark Leo’s contribution to club, community and country on the event of their next home game. Admittedly this would have required a good deal of effort. But someone in the Panthers organisation should have either done the research and the work … or engaged someone who could do it.

You know, I reckon even those internal snipers that rolled Leo out of office in 2000 would have afforded Leo and his family the time, the effort and the respect that his contribution warrants.

I am astounded by this lack of attention – especially from the club that boldly proclaims:

“Respect the Past, Create the Future”

respect the past

Perhaps, a lesson could be derived from this – how about each member of the Panthers Board be asked to write a thousand words on the following essay topic.

Slogans may be written, they may be spoken, they may be shouted,  but it is only when they are lived that they hold any value. Discuss.

I’d love to see the response of the current Chairman who is ultimately responsible for this accidental or deliberate show of disrespect..

His response would be in marked contrast to the offering from the distinguished, thoughtful gentleman who held the Chair between 1984 and 2000 and who lived the values espoused by the proclamation. The same values that the current Chairman and his Board has rendered so hollow.

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