Vale Kevin Collins
A true legend of the Croydon Rangers Gridiron Club passed away after a 20-month battle with brain cancer on Monday. As editor of the Club’s newsletter, I attempt to remain as impartial and invisible as possible, but this occasion is a little more personal.
As someone who has been at the Club for almost 25-years, watching my first senior match at the 1996 VicBowl, and playing my first Juniors game in 1997, it is getting to that time when some people that I have come to call teammates, friends, and mentors, have begun to pass. With the Club closer to 40 years old than 30, these things are bound to happen – but I have personally been affected by 3 now in the last few years.
I have known Kev basically the entire time I have been at the Club – even if only through his son Aaron in the first few years.
It was in 2001 that the Collins family really stamped their legacy on the Club, with Kev taking on the role of Club President, joining Aaron on the committee who returned for a second year as the Clubs treasurer. This is a pairing, or grouping when you include Elise, that would carry the Club through to 2005, with Aaron finally stepping away as treasurer. It wasn’t until the end of 2007 that Kev finally called time on the role of Club President, securing the title of the Club's longest-serving President.
To say that the Collins family were the sole reason that the Club remained afloat in the early 2000s would be a disservice to the other volunteers that assisted around the Club in many roles over that time, but the family certainly set itself within the DNA. There is no more fitting tribute than to look back over the Gil Boyd Memorial Shield, and see the Collins Family inscribed continuously from 2000-2005, and Kevin Collins solo on the shield in 2007. As the award that I personally hold in highest esteem within the Club (perhaps as the only award I was ever able to secure beyond a Coaches Award), I think the continued recognition year on year is a reminder of what the family gave to the Club.
In 2008, Kev and Elise both fittingly received Life Membership of the Rangers.
I remember speaking with Kev in my third year as President, at a time that I was moving all the old Club documents into digital format, and asking Kev how he managed the Club back then. It wasn’t before email and word-processors, but the Club minutes were all documented via typewriter on Club letterhead, and all correspondence was done by mail… not of the electronic variety. I couldn’t believe it. I asked how he managed it for 7–years, dealing with councils, sponsors, players all via letters and phone calls… to landlines. And in a serendipitous moment, my phone buzzed with a Facebook Messenger alert, with a player asking where he could get some socks as he had lost his. It was at this moment that Kev pointed out that communication took longer, but it also meant that there was less chance of trivial messages making it all the way to the Club President. We lead the Club at different times, with different issues.
During Kev’s time as President, I have clear memories of a man that would stalk the change rooms after training, still in his work shirt, pants and black leather shoes, chasing players for owed fees. Every Tuesday and Thursday. There was no getting away. I also have a recollection of Kev dishing up the pizza on Thursday evenings after training – whether he introduced pizza night, or whether he was a regular server of the food I don’t recall, but he was certainly there helping out at any opportunity.
Kev oversaw the installation of the floodlights at Ranger Field, completing crafty negotiations with the council and the EFLUA to minimise the amount the Club would have to contribute to the costs. Oh, and while he was the Club President, he was also on the committee of the Springfield Sporting Group (if not President) who managed the use of the Springfield Pavilion during its 20-year lease off the council.
All of this to say, Kev was the embodiment of what it means to be a volunteer. Whether it was the behind the scenes management of the Club, dealing with councils, sponsors, and the league, or marking the field on a Friday night before the weekends games, or turning the snags on the BBQ – Kev had done it. And he’d done it with a passion that only a true selfless volunteer can.
A few years ago, Kev received great recognition for the volunteerism that he has shown for years – though not in the gridiron community. In 2017 he was acknowledged by the AFL through the 2017 Community Football Awards, recognising his tireless work as a VicKick and AusKick helper, which almost made Freemantle palatable as a second favourite team to his beloved Pies. Kev truly did give back more than he ever received.
Kev was a genuine ‘top bloke’ who was always up for a laugh and never was too busy to stop and say G’Day. Kev was a mentor during my time as the Clubs President, and could still be seen down at the Club until recently, enjoying the atmosphere and the game, despite potentially never fully understanding the rules (I hope he doesn’t mind me saying that!). Kev was a loving and much-loved husband, father and grandfather, and my thoughts and well-wishes go out to the entire family and friends at this time.
Rest in Peace Kev.
Fellow Club President (2014-2017)
Funeral Service Details
Date: Monday 24th February
Location: Heritage Funeral Home
Address: 733 Boronia Road, Wantirna
The service will be followed by a private cremation.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cancer research. Envelopes will be available at the service.