Quite often in our jobs, we get to see some amazing things, precious things, rare things, family treasures.
Such was the case on a visit with Nowra man Errol Wilson to talk about his father Jim, who played rugby league for both the Pyree Rovers and Nowra Warriors back in the early 1900s.
Jim Wilson is one of a number of local footballers whose stories are being told by well-known local historian and prolific author Robyn Florance in her new book - Pyree Rovers The Story of a Football Club.
During my visit, Errol brings out a superb family keepsake and treasured possession - a photo of his father in his playing days from 1913, complete with two of his premiership medals, one from 1919 with the Nowra Warriors and another in 1925 with the Rovers.
Other team photos and newspaper clippings are soon on show too, bringing Jim Wilson's amazing story to life.
And what a life?
An incredible life, featuring involvement in numerous organisations, both sporting and community-based - a World War I veteran, a member of both the Pyree and Nowra Warriors Rugby League Clubs, Pyree Cricket Club, involvement in many of the Numbaa Rowing regattas, a foundation member of the Nowra RSL Club, a Nowra Show committee member, highly respected sporting administrator and a well-known builder around the district.
But also a quiet man, a 'man of action not words'.
Such was his regard, Wilson Avenue in Nowra is named after him.
James Varney ("Jim") Wilson was born on March 25, 1894, on Comerong Island.
He was the son of Patrick and Annie Wilson (nee Kennedy from Numbaa).
"Dad's father was a farmer at Jervis Bay at the time," Errol said.
"I don't really know how he came to be born on Comerong Island, but it seems to be a bit of an assembly point for the Kennedy, Wilson and Murphy families of the time."
He was the oldest of four siblings with both his brothers, William and Oswald also serving in WW1.
He later returned to Numbaa living with his Aunty Kate Kennedy and working on Jack Kennedy's farm.
There he forged strong links with brothers John Stronach ('Jack') Coulthart and William Burgess ('Bill') Coulthart, along with their brother-in-law John ('Jack') Mackay and their friend Ken Hyam
All five enlisted in World War I and became known as the 'Numbaa Boys'.
Unfortunately, Hyam was wounded at the Battle of the Windmill at Pozieres in France and died a couple of weeks later due to his injuries, aged just 23.
A reunion was held in June last year to mark the 100th anniversary of their return.
Bill and Jack Coulthart, Jim Wilson and Ken Hyam embarked Sydney on HMAT A8 "Argyllshire" on Thursday, September 30, 1915.
They travelled to Egypt for preliminary training with the veterans of Gallipoli.
Jack and Jim joined the 5th Field Engineers and served together throughout the war.
Jim was slightly wounded on July 26, 1916, but remained on duty. They had been working on improving connecting trenches behind the front line in the area south-west of Pozieres at Sunken Road and Pioneer Trench.
They have been under heavy fire.
The following day they were caught in a heavy barrage at 11am and sustained 20 casualties (all wounded).
Jim was promoted to Lance Corporal on March 28, 1917.
Jim attended a bridge-building course between November 11 and December 2, 1917. Both Jim and Jack would have put their skills to use in the important Battle for Mont St. Quentin in August 1918.
A key requirement was to cross the Somme River.
He was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre in February 1920.
"They were all great mates," Errol said.
"They all grew up together and were never far away from each other.
"They all seemed to stick together - a lot of the guys who came back from the war in 1919 got straight back into their sport.
"Dad and Bill (Coulthart) were members of the Warriors' 1919 premiership team. The next year along with Bill and Jack Coulthart, their younger brother Graham and his own brother Os they played for Pyree."
He was for a while also the club treasurer.
"Dad had actually been a member of the Nowra Warriors first premiership team in 1913," he said.
"He was also part of the Pyree Cricket premiership team of 1921-22. They all just got back into their sport.
"They were working on farms, they were young and fit as Mallee bulls.
"I remember him telling stories of them walking from Numbaa to Pyree for training - barefoot."
He even at one stage played for a team called the Death Adders of Jervis Bay (1914 from the Naval College).
Jim Wilson was a well-respected player, a second-rower who could also kick goals.
At Pyree he formed a strong forward pack with the likes of Horace Watts and Tom Caddell during the Rovers' second coming starting in 1920.
One of the oldest surviving Rovers' players Greg Watts, now 90, described him as a 'strong second-rower' who 'liked it tough'.
The Rovers would go on to claim the 1925 one-round knockout competition premiership, beating Kiama 14-9.
"They all loved the game, they had great camaraderie - they all stuck together across many sports," Errol said.
"Interesting to note in the photos, he was one of many players at the time who wore what I suppose you would call kidney belts. I've still got it somewhere.
"It was a pretty amazing time - it's amazing what they did back then - lots of hardships but they all managed to survive.
"They were fit - they worked hard and then trained. If they got hurt there was a small injured players fund - not much a couple of shillings.
"They just loved it."
Jim was also involved in the rowing club and played a hand in organising regattas and often competed at the old Numbaa Rowing Club near what they referred to as Coulthart's island (now Numbaa Island) and was regarded as an accomplished sculler.
"Like Artie Smith he was also involved in a lot of sports administration, he was treasurer of a couple of clubs and even managed a couple of representative rugby league teams," Errol said.
"Back then, you just got involved in everything."
He was also a founding member of the Nowra RSL Sub-Branch, with Errol saying Anzac Day played a big role in his life.
"Anzac Day was also a special occasion for him - I got to meet a number of his old mates like Fraser Armstrong," he said.
"He would go to Sydney and march each year and when it got to the stage he couldn't, we were among one of the first to get a black and white television in 1956 and he'd watch the Anzac march.
"It was an emotional day for him - a sad day.
"They went through and experienced lots - things we could never imagine - war, depression, recessions etc - I suppose in a way this current coronavirus pandemic might be the closest we'll get."
During his life, Jim Wilson did many things including logging cedar from Woodhill Mountain, running the Hell Hole Sawmill at Tomerong, working at HMAS Creswell building roads using wheelbarrows before going into the building contracting business with 'Watty' Graham (the peg-legged builder who would fashion his own wooden legs and was legendary for nailing himself into position on roofs so he wouldn't fall off) and Jack Coulthart.
Together they built a number of homes throughout the district but in particular in Mayfield and Brundee areas.
"He was great mates with Jack Ison (Ison and Co), he would get timber delivered by the rail load," Errol said.
"He later built our family home on the corner of Berry Street and Wilson Avenue. Incredibly Bill Coulthart lived across the road."
Jim married Dorothy May Arnol (from Swansea Tasmania) in August 1940. They had two children - Errol and Lorraine.
"Mum was actually working as a domestic helper in the Prince of Wales Hotel in Nowra. Dad was boarding there when he was carpentering."
Like many of the first World War veterans, during WWII he was a commander of the Lighthorse on the South Coast.
He was also a greyhound and horse owner and even a bookmaker - "both as an official, registered bookmaker and at times an SP as well".
"He also owned trotter Regal Gold, which Kevin Robinson drove it for him and that's where his Regal Lodge name came from," Errol said.
"I remember Dad would go to Harold Park Trots each Friday night with Ken Elliott and Kevin.
"Dad was actually a registered bookmaker up there.
"Dad did lots of things and was involved in lots of things. Certainly an interesting life."
Jim died on September 29, 1972, aged 79.
Errol Wilson has praised Robyn Florance's work in bringing the Pyree Rugby League history to life.
"Robyn's done a fantastic job, like all her books - they are very personal," he said.
As for Errol, he played rugby League with the Nowra Warriors, including starting with the Midgets with Jack Aldous at the Nowra Showground before later going on to play with mates at the Bomaderry Swamp Rats.
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