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Title: ... p92 - Geoff Robinson hands back Life Membership by ADAM HAWSE, Sunday Telegraph article

cult hero Geoff Robinson said he will hand back his life membership in protest at the sacking of Garry Hughes


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ADAM HAWSE, Sunday Telegraph article


4th July 2004


Robbo to dump life membership


July 4, 2004

IN a move that has reignited tensions at the Bulldogs, cult hero Geoff Robinson said he will hand back his life membership in protest at the sacking of Garry Hughes as football manager.

Just as the club was stabilising after the trauma of the Coffs Harbour sexual assault allegations, Robinson says he has learned the "truth" behind Hughes' sacking in March and is "utterly disgusted".

The former front-rower with the flowing black hair and bushy beard has resisted advice of family and friends to go public with his intentions.

Joining him in protest is Graeme Hughes, a team-mate from the 1980 premiership-winning Canterbury team and brother of Garry, who will also hand in his life membership at the next club AGM. Both men want a revamped board elected to work alongside chief executive Malcolm Noad.

"(Life membership) means a lot to me. I played there 11 seasons," Robinson said.

"It means a lot to my family, to mum and dad, my brothers and sisters, and this decision is going to hurt deeply.

"I have no confidence in some of the decisions that have been made over the last couple of months.

"I've tried to find some answers and at this stage I haven't stumbled across any.

"At the next AGM, unless I get the proper answers and the reinstatement of Garry Hughes and an apology, my life membership will be handed back in.

"It's a big step and I've thought long and hard about this. I've spoken to a lot of good friends, business people, ex-board members and current board members.

"Some have tried to persuade me not to do it. They said 'you worked so hard for that and not many can get that'.

"But, the person I am, I will stand by my decision.

"If it wasn't Garry, if it was anyone else, I'd do the same thing because I feel they have done the wrong thing."

Hughes and Robinson, who played 139 first-grade games between 1977-86, absolve directors Clive Gartner and Tim Pickup of blame, as well as new board member Jim Hall.

In an interview with Graeme Hughes, to be played tomorrow on 1269 2SM's Talking Sport program, Robinson claims club chairman George Peponis cracked under pressure from sponsors to deliver a scapegoat from the Coffs Harbour affair.

"George was a great captain and I still class him as a friend of mine," Robinson said. "But I think it all came down to pressure and I think he cracked under pressure – and that's not George.

"As a person he handles pressure pretty well.

But I think at the time the pressure was put on him pretty hard to turn around and make these big decisions.

"I still feel if there is that much pressure put on you, you still have to think of the bloke you are going to sack.

"You have to ask 'what does he mean to this club, how long has he been here?' And that's worth more than money."

Garry Hughes has lodged documents against the Bulldogs club in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, claiming his sacking was "unfair, harsh or unconscionable".

Peponis is angry at what he calls an "agenda" that could destabilise the club's bid for the premiership.

"All I'll say is I'm disappointed that Geoff Robinson couldn't come and have a chat with me," Peponis said.

"As far as Graeme Hughes is concerned . . . I don't want to comment. I'm disappointed that people are doing things now rather than leaving it until AGM time, when it's more appropriate.

"The club has gone through hell in the last two years. We've just started to get back on track.

"The side is going well and to be starting this sort of agenda now, it's just derailing the club again – and the club doesn't need it.

"If people are really genuine that they have the best interests of the club at heart, then why would you be doing this now?" Peponis wouldn't comment on why Hughes and Robinson had not been invited to the club's 70th anniversary function on July 30.

Graeme Hughes called for Peponis to resign.

"He sacked Garry Hughes and then under pressure from others he shoved (then CEO) Steve Mortimer out the door," Hughes said.

"There is no way in the world you can call them the family club after this."

Robinson and Hughes will not nominate themselves for the board.

The Sunday Telegraph

Appears in the following pages ....P92_Geoff ROBINSON
Date of posting ... 05-May-2004
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