The loss of Artie Beetson (1945 – 2011)

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Program, first year Artie Beetson played for NSW and Australia, Rugby League News/ Third Test Australia v Great Britain/ Sydney Cricket Ground, 1966. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

I previously knew Artie from around mid 1974 when I worked for the Sydney County Council and Artie was a building worker and we used to meet at the same sandwich shop in Lane Cove.

Thirty seven years later, in May 2003 we were both part of the Armidale Aboriginal Children’s Mentoring Program ( The Anaiwan project), along with the likes of Dean Widders, Cathy Freeman and many other Koori role models, in fact, Artie and I stayed at the same motel and had had dinner together. Listening to him over a period of a couple of hours had me in fits of laughter and yes, I couldn’t compete with him in beer drinking department. Over the years I would see him off and on at many Koori sporting functions and events and he was always mobbed by the kids.They just loved him.It goes without saying, he was a larger than life character and loved and respected by all who had the privilege to know him. He’s loss to the Aboriginal community and the wider Australian community, especially in rugby league will be a monumental one. Like many of my generation who witnessed him playing football at the many clubs he represented, will attest that we saw the greatest ever league forward ever to play the game. Rest In Peace, Big Fella.

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