Photo courtesy of Coota Times
For the past 40-odd years, the dulcet tones of Ned Miller’s voice have been a constant companion as Rugby League players ran out onto Cootamundra’s Les Boyd Oval.
Ned, who turns 80 next year, was the ground announcer and a fixture for the four grades that played there each weekend.
“In the old days he would sit at a table on the sideline with his good mate Peter Spratt, who was the timekeeper,” said former player and then secretary of the Cootamundra Bulldogs Rugby League Club, Bernard Powderly.
“His wonderful voice was known right throughout Group Nine. At the peak we had 13 teams in Group Nine and everyone knew who Ned Miller was. Even when representative games or Grand Finals were played there, he was the man they wanted to hear.
“Ned was very engaging with the crowd. He had a rapport with them. Nothing seemed to upset him.
“When I played Under 16s at 10.30am he was there and he went right through the afternoon.”
Eventually a new canteen and broadcast box were constructed, and Ned moved from ground level to get a better view of proceedings.
“He used to always say it was the best seat in the house as he could sit up high and watch all the action,” said his son, Paul Miller, who is the club’s vice-president.
But at the last home game this year, Ned announced that he was hanging up his microphone.
“I remember I was a ball boy at eight or 10-years old and he was doing it back then. I’m 52 now so it’s been a fair stint,” Paul said.
“He’s had to climb up the stairs to the broadcast box and his eyesight isn’t as great as it was, so at 79 he’s going to call it a day.”
At the club’s annual presentation night last week, NSWRL chief executive David Trodden had a signed Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues team jersey presented to him on behalf of the state governing body as a ‘thank you’ for his dedication.
Blues coach Brad Fittler also sent a video message, which was played for guests and resulted in a standing ovation for Ned.
“He got a bit emotional, but he means a lot to a lot of people,” Paul said.
“He’s a Life Member of both the Junior and Senior clubs at Coota. There’s also a ground at our junior complex named after him.”
It doesn’t end there. The man known as ‘The Voice of Fisher Park’, where Les Boyd Oval is located, will now have the broadcast box named after him.
Trodden also wrote a letter to Ned to thank him personally.
“I am in awe of the volunteer contributions which people such as yourself make to our game,” Trodden said.
“It is never lost on me that our whole game is literally built on those contributions. Without them, we would not have a game.”