If history is anything to go by, Sandgate will not be saying ‘See you later, alligator’ to rugby league anytime soon. Sandgate has had a rugby league club for at least 100 years. Sandgate’s seniors’ team, the Gaters (full name Sandgate Snap Fitness Gaters), is particularly proud to have been operating since 1973.
Despite their alligator logo, the club spells its name as Gaters. Club president, Leny Hoeksema, explained, “When the club was called Sandgate District, crowds used to call out ‘Go Sandgaters’. The crowd then shortened this to ‘Go Gaters’”.
This year, the Gaters have teams in Divisions 1 and 2 of the INTECH Rugby League Brisbane Senior Northside competition. The Gaters are affiliated with the Redcliffe Dolphins, meaning Gaters players who reach the required skill level can transfer to this team. The club plays games at Brighton Roosters’ grounds and uses the Sandgate PCYC fields for training.
Leny is the Gaters longest serving player and has been a member of Sandgate district football for 50 years, “I played for the Gaters across five decades, from 1979 to 2010.” Before this, Leny played for the junior team, Sandgate Sharks. Fittingly, because the Gaters have no club house, Leny is also the custodian of club records.
A tight-knit club, the Gaters hold an annual Remember the Gaters Greats (RGG) Day to honour members who have since passed. There is a minute’s silence, a game is played in which the best Gaters player is awarded the RGG trophy, and then an evening function.
The club has two other awards to recognise valued players – the Sandgate District Rugby League President’s Trophy for the most promising young player, and the Gary Josey Cup for the most outstanding player.
The Gaters are mindful of the damage that can be caused by a player’s misconduct and ensure their players adhere to a strict code of conduct. “We have changed the culture of the club and have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule for our players. We will not tolerate bad behaviour,” Leny said.
Keeping the Gaters afloat has been challenging at times, and the club relies on sponsorship and money raised from raffles. Despite any struggles, the Gaters remain optimistic,
“ WE ARE VERY PROUD
OF OUR PAST AND VERY EXCITED BY OUR FUTURE.”
Gaters were Premier Grade champions in 2016 and are no doubt keen to replicate this success in 2019!
Anyone looking to play, coach, or fundraise for the Gaters can contact Leny Hoeksema on ph.0417 193 010.