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BALI STORY

“FOR THE BOYS” BALI OCTOBER 12, 2002

In 2002 the Kingsley Cats had a successful footy season in E Grade.  During the year a couple of the boys organised several fund raising events as they had decided to top off a good season with an end of year footy trip to Bali.  This was considered to be a great idea and they had lots of support with many of the boys putting their hand up to go, although not everyone could make it due to work or family commitments.

Much of the organising was done by Big Stewie (Anthony Stewart) and Stokesy (Jason Stokes).

League and Reserves teams both won a spot in the Grand Final and on a lousy windy wet day in almost blizzard like conditions the Reserves won their Grand Final.  The League lost theirs after a gallant battle.

Everyone was ready to celebrate with a holiday adventure.  Several of the boys were seasoned travellers while others were on their first trip overseas.  Corey Paltridge’s father, Kevin, chauffeured them from the Kingsley Tavern to the airport in his limousine.

The boys were in highspirits.  Big Stewie had his passport stolen in a prank while Kal Zomer took a home movie of proceedings adding his own special commentary.  Eventually all 20 boarded safely – Ash Diver (Bruiser), Dean Gallagher (Deano), Jason Stokes (Stokesy), Damon Brimson (Damo), Duane Pearce (Pearcey), Jason Madden (Madds), Simon Quayle, Byron Hancock (Byza), Corey Paltridge, his work partner Paul Adams, David Ross (Baldy), Brad McIlroy (Macca), Adam Nimmo (Nimmo), Phil Britton (Britts), Jonathon Wade (Jono), Anthony Stewart, Kalan Zomer, Laurie Kerr, Brad Phillips (Rooster) & Ben Clohessy.

On arriving in Bali they checked in to the Bounty Hotel where they were staying.  Some swam in the pool while others lounged around with a drink.  They commenced their evening with a group meal at the Bagus restaurant and then set out to hit the night spots.

They started at The Sari Club.  There were heaps of young people, other footy clubs including some AFL players and a mix of nationalities all enjoying the relaxed excited atmosphere.  Then came a turning point in the lives of so many people – first a suicide bomber set off an explosion in Paddy’s Bar across the road and then a terrorist bomb planted in a van outside the Sari Club by Jemiah Islamiah was detonated with horrifying effect.

202 innocent people, including many Balinese, lost their lives on 12/10/2002 and many more wounded.  Seven of our young men lost their lives.  Thirteen survived although two had severe burns and need to be airlifted back to Australia for treatment.

The Kingsley footy club survivors were offered the opportunity to fly straight home from Bali.  They chose to stay and search for their seven missing teammates, hoping against hope that they would be found alive in a Hospital somewhere.  When this failed they searched the morgues looking for the bodies of their mates until they realised after a few days that they had searched everywhere and could do no more.

The eleven remaining survivors refused to fly home separately saying they came as a team and would return as a team.  When a group flight could not be arranged businessman Kerry Stokes, who had no affiliation to the club, sent his private jet to fly them home.

On the long flight home the teammates vowed to raise the funds to build new clubrooms as a memorial to their lost friends.  Upon arrival at Perth Airport they announced the plan to the waiting crowd of family, friends and media.  This started a wave of donations and pledges of support that stunned the club.  The generosity and support from the community of Western Australia was amazing.

On Sunday 20 October 2002 a Candlelight Vigil was held with the assistance of the City of Joondalup and conducted by Father Brian Morrison. Candles were lit and a crowd of approx 10,000 people filled the oval and gave strength to the grieving families.  The Vigil was telecast and watched by many millions of people world wide.  The Vigil and telecast was made possible by the generous donation of time and effort by numerous individuals.  Many more donations were received at the Vigil.

Builder, Dale Alcock, volunteered to coordinate the donated materials and volunteer labour, tradesmen and other expertise so that the dream could become a reality.  The Kingsley Memorial Clubrooms were constructed as an attachment to the existing building joined by a foyer and Memorial Hall.  To honour their promise the surviving clubmen had the words “FOR THE BOYS” emblazoned on the Memorial Hall wall.

Ben Clohessy was awarded the Star of Courage for his gallantry in the Sari Club.

As a symbol of respect the club retired the number 7 jumper.  The only No. 7 jumper at the club is the one that hangs in the Memorial Hall adorned with the playing cards of the seven boys we lost.

During 2003 Phil Britton fought through the agony of his burns and astounded everyone by coming back to play – we all had a tear in our eye when he ran on that day.  He was re-appointed Club Captain.  Laurie Kerr also recovered from his burns and assisted the league coaching panel.  His nephew Brodie Nelson came to play for Kingsley.  Jason Stokes’ and Dean Gallagher’s brothers (Bevan and Ian) came to play for the Kingsley Cats and remain associated with the club.  Jason’s sister-in-law Lisa made the mosaic for the Memorial Hall floor.

Simon Quayle coached the League side to another Grand Final as did Reserves coach Peter Boucher.  The Boucher family have a long association with the Kingsley Footy Club.  The Grand Final day of 2003 was an emotion charged day dedicated to the lost boys, but neither team was successful as the players had trouble staying focussed.

In honour of their son, Corey Paltridge’s parents sponsor an annual award for the Colts team that is presented to a player who typifies the characteristics of their son – tenacious,hard at the ball and a good work ethic among other qualities.  They continue to be Honorary members of our club as do the parents of the other lost boys, most of whom are still strong supporters.

Paul Adams who had not been associated with the club before Bali was a great supporter of the new clubrooms and organised donations and workmen from glaziers to labourers.  He keeps in touch with the other survivors.

At the following season’s jumper presentation Jono Wade’s cousin Ben Gabrovec was presented Johno’s jumper, Ben Hammer was presented with his good mate Baldy’s jumper, Ian Gallagher was presented with his brother Deano’s jumper and Mickey Mofflin was presented with Corey Paltridge’s jumper.

Kerry Stokes donated funds towards the building and separately for a statue.  The statue was unveiled at the second anniversary of the bombings.  You will see it at the front of the building along with a bench to indicate the player’s bench and the seven water bottles in a crate bearing the nick names of our lost players.

We gratefully acknowledge the offers of counselling for our lost boy’s families, our surviving players and other club members, the Red Cross assistance, donations etc from other footy clubs including a substantial donation from the Lancelin Pirates (we had a social game against them each season for six years to acknowledge their generosity) as well as the unbelievable assistance and support from Cheryl Edwardes MLA, the Kingsley community and the people of Western Australia.

Also in the display case is a Sari Brick.  It contains ashes and soil from the Sari Club.  Alongside is an electric candle.  This candle was lit by the club President at the time, Brian Anderson and was not extinguished until all our boys had been returned.  It remained lit for several difficult weeks.

Ten years after the tragic event the club held a “Legends Game”.  The senior club legends played the junior club legends.  Peter Boucher returned to coach the senior legends.  Kal, Macca, Pearcey, Bruiser, Britts, Nimmo, Rooster, Damo, Benny, Madds and Paul Adams all played as did Corey and Baldy’s fathers.  The game was attended by around two thousand five hundred people.  The largest crowd to watch a game ar Kingsley.

Much of the strength of this club and the bonds between the families, survivors and their teammates who didn’t go to Bali comes from the terrible tragedy of that night.

FOREVER IN OUR THOUGHTS – FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS