Over the last 21 years, Geoffery Shepherd has become synonymous with the Goulburn Rugby Union Club. But on Saturday, his place in the annals of Dirty Reds history became permanent when he was made a Life Member.
Geoffro, as he is known affectionately by players and members alike, was inducted into this select group on the back of his tireless work over the last two decades.
"I was very excited and happy to become a Life Member," Geoffery said.
"I've loved footy all my life, I always watched my brother play rugby union."
The moment was made especially poignant for the 39-year-old by the presence of his family.
"For us to see his recognition, we were very proud of him. The whole family was very proud," Geoffery's father, Chris, said.
"On Saturday, his sister was there, my sister, his nieces and nephews were there, and his mother."
Geoffery's family in Queensland also called to congratulate him on his achievement, while he received numerous messages of love and support from family members in Perth.
His involvement with the club began in 2000, when his uncle, Gary, recommended that fellow Life Member, Kevin Kara, employ Geoffery's services as waterboy.
Geoffery began volunteering that year, and since then has become the assistant team manager for the men's sides, aids in preparing and setting up the fields ahead of games, and films the women's games for coaches Peter Oliver and Ash Mewburn to review.
And he still finds the time to run drinks during the games.
"Our club doesn't run without volunteers, but the thing I would say about Geoff is our club wouldn't be as good as it is without him," Dirty Reds president, Jackson Reardon, said.
"Someone could fill his job, but no-one could do it like him. He's well-loved by everyone in the club, he's so passionate and that rubs off on people."
In the 21 years since he began his work with Goulburn Rugby, Geoffery has only missed two matches. His dedication to the game and the club saw him awarded the HS Quinn Trophy for Services to Rugby by ACT Rugby in 2019, which reflected a fervor which was instilled in him early in life.
"He was brought up involved with footy, and he loves the NRL and supports the Newcastle Knights," Chris said.
"He led them onto the field a few years ago, and once he was on the field he wouldn't come off.
"All the members of the club really look forward to his assistance on the grounds every week and the friendships they've got with him. It's really an important part of his life, and he's important to them."
Life Membership with Goulburn Rugby is commemorated with a custom blazer, which was presented to Geoffery by Dirty Reds great, and good friend, Boyd Newby.
Newby, who retired after the 2020 season, has known Geoffery since they were in high school, but said their relationship really blossomed once he joined the club in 2003.
"I've known Geoffery through friends of mine since Year 7, back in '93," Newby said.
"During the time I played, you'd appreciate Geoffery being there, but looking back at it now he's such an important part of the club. His effect on people is remarkable, even the teams we play against have well wishes for him."
The impact Geoffery has made on the Canberra competition was evident on Saturday, when the Dirty Reds played the Gungahlin Eagles at Poidevin Oval.
The two teams have a long-running rivalry, which has featured hotly-contested grand finals, but the Gungahlin players took the time to congratulate Geoffery and clapped him off the field.
"He's been a big part of all the different premierships that we've had," Newby said.
"He shares the pride of all those achievements with us very strongly."
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