Bon Voyage Paul McKinnel

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Club stalwart, life member and friend to all in Wanneroo Rugby club, Paul McKinnel, is leaving Perth next week to take up residence in the sunny climes of Hawkes Bay in the north island of New Zealand.

Paul hails from Gore in the south island originally, but he, his wife Sue and son Heath have decided to live in Hawkes Bay where they will be reunited with daughter Stacey, Paul’s brother Brian and many other family members.

Paul & Sue moved to Perth in 1976 and stayed until 1978. During his first stint in WA, Paul must have got lost because he played his rugby at Nedlands.

The McKinnels stayed in NZ for eight years, before getting itchy feet again and deciding to give Australia another go. They returned to Perth in 1986, by which time Wanneroo Rugby Club had been formed after amalgamating with Sorrento and relocating to Kingsway. Paul joined the fledgling club as a first grade player, but because he was working in the nor west at the time he had many games in the lower grades too.

When he finally decided to hang his boots up, Paul decided to try coaching and became an assistant to Wanneroo first grade coach Jim Joseph. Jim was a Maori All Black whose son (and future All Black) Jamie was about 17 years old played 1st grade for Wanneroo. Paul said he learned a lot from Jim and was privileged to have been able to help Jamie in his formative years.

Paul must have enjoyed coaching, because he took a sabbatical from the Roo Dogs (with their blessing) to coach at Western Suburbs. He enjoyed his time there and, as with Nedlands, he made many good friends in the rugby community.

After a three year stint at West’s, Paul returned to Wanneroo looking for a new challenge. He and his good mate Jake Reedy got together and decided the club needed a ladies team. So they approached Wanneroo committee and submitted their proposal, which was accepted unanimously. Paul & Jake became joint coaches of the inaugural Wanneroo ladies team in 1990. They coached together for three years, until tragedy struck when Jake was killed in a car crash.

After that Paul stepped back from coaching and took his talents onto the committee where he poured his heart and soul into improving the club for the benefit of the members and players.

In 2012 he hooked up with Alf Pemberton and they became joint Bar Managers at the club. Between them, over the next few years, they reorganised and restructured the bar operations. They did such a good job, that what was previously a fairly loose, volunteer operation became a professional, efficient, accountable and profitable business.

During my term as President in 2010, we decided to improve and extend the club house facilities. The club was extremely fortunate that ex player and club Patron Bob Henley financed the build and Danny White of Danmar Homes drew the plans for free and built the extension at cost price. Many wonderful people contributed their time and energy to the project, but few did more than Paul.

After participating with me in major negotiations with Danmar Homes, he volunteered to be project manager for the whole of the construction, and did a fantastic job. When he finished that commitment in 2013, he continued straight on and organised and supervised major renovations to the old change rooms, kitchen and club house ceilings.

In 2014, Paul again partnered me in negotiations with Danmar Homes to build a new storage shed for the club. Danny White came to the party once again by drawing up the design plans and doing the construction. When construction was completed, Paul designed, built and installed the metal frames inside the shed for storage of the post pads and big tackle bags.

You could be excused for thinking he might have needed a bit of R & R after his efforts. But Paul is nothing if not dedicated and he threw himself straight into more voluntary work on the club’s behalf. With his stint as bar manager finished, he spent his time from then until now doing maintenance work around the club, helping out behind the bar, being pick up and delivery man for the bar etc etc etc.

I could go on for ages about his loyalty and commitment to Wanneroo Rugby, but I’m sure you’ve got the gist of the story by now. Suffice to say that one of Wanneroo’s nicest, friendliest and most dedicated members is leaving us.

We’d love to have him stay, and Paul himself is sad at leaving. But we all know, and agree, that family must come first. Paul has contributed more than most to Wanneroo Rugby and we’ll all miss his cheery smile and presence after so many years of him being such an integral member of the Roo Dog family.

Bon voyage Paul and thank you for being such a wonderful, long term part of Wanneroo Rugby Club.

Our club is your club and the door will always be open for you.

I looked up your surname on the web and as with many Kiwi’s, your name is of Scottish heritage, so I’ll leave you with an old Scottish Hogmanay toast ‘Lang may yer lum reek’

On behalf of everyone at Wanneroo Rugby, we wish you all the best for your family reunion and a happy future in Hawkes Bay.

Bill Watt

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