Big Vodafone Warriors fan Daryn Deacon was overjoyed when his mate and former Canterbury-Bankstown Adam Perry visited him in hospital last week to give him a signed Vodafone Warriors jersey on behalf of the club.
The 44-year-old father–of-three and son of 1965-1971 Kiwi Bill Deacon has been in hospital in Wagga Wagga fighting a grim battle after recently being diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.
The local community in his hometown in nearby Junee has galvanised by setting up a Daryn Deacon Appeal to support Daryn and his family. Among a number of fundraising events in the small town (population: 4400) is a family touch footy carnival at Laurie Daley Oval on October 3.
Perry, also a Junee Diesels product and the NRL’s regional manager in south west New South Wales, made contact with former Bulldogs team-mate and Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price to source a signed NRL jersey. Price in turn called managing director Jim Doyle to make it happen.
“Daryn’s mood just lifted instantly when I showed him the jersey,” said Perry.
“He absolutely loves the Warriors. He couldn’t stop smiling and shook my hand three times to thank me. I posted a photo of him with the jersey on my Facebook page and it went crazy.
“We can’t say enough about the way the Warriors have joined the town of Junee in getting behind Daryn to fight this. He’s so grateful for the support.
“Even though it’s a tough fight he’s very positive and having so many people, particularly the club he loves, in his corner makes a huge difference.”
A goal-kicking second rower, Daryn played rugby league for the Junee Diesels – the great Laurie Daley’s club – until well into his 40s and was playing rugby union for the Junee Rams just a matter of months ago before the cancer diagnosis.
Father Bill Deacon provides one of rugby league’s more remarkable stories.
An outstanding back rower from Waikato, he played 14 Tests and 35 tour matches for the Kiwis from 1965-1971, touring Britain and France in 1965 plus Australia in 1967 while he also toured Britain and France again in 1971 when the Kiwis created history by winning a series in the United Kingdom for the first time as well as taking out the series in France.
Named the New Zealand player of the year in 1965, Deacon also went to the Rugby League World Cup in England 1970.
When he failed to make the Kiwis in 1972 Deacon moved to Australia which, in those days, meant he was banned from playing for New Zealand again.
After a stint as captain-coach at the Wagga Magpies, he was with the Junee Diesels between 1979 and 1983 and was back with the club from 1987-1992. In the intervening years he had a season coaching rugby union and a year with Turvey Park.
New Zealand rugby league historian John Coffey calculates Deacon, who made his senior debut as a 16-year-old for the Ngaruawahia Panthers in the Waikato competition, probably played 650 senior games until he retired at the age of 48 as well as 68 games for Waikato, 49 for New Zealand and various trials.
He missed only one season of senior football from 1960 to 1992 and even played one match alongside sons Daryn and Barry.
He was made a life member of the Junee Rugby League Club in 2012.
Online banking details:
Bank State Branch (BSB) | 12700
Account No | 220112717
Account name | Daryn Deacon Appeal