Tony Rea was the latest former player to be inducted into the London Broncos Supporters Association Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon at the club’s Heritage Day.
Rea joined Reg Bowden, Hussein M’Barki, Scott Roskell, Mark Johnson, Peter Gill, Steele Retchless and Rob Purdham in the LBSA Hall of Fame which was launched in 2014.
Tony joined the London Broncos in December 1994, and made his debut on Boxing Day in a freezing cold defeat at Leigh. The club was in transition at the time, with the Brisbane Broncos directors, who owned the club, signing Australian players to try to win promotion from the Second Division. Tony joined the club from North Sydney. He had played 120 first team games for Norths, including captaining them to the Grand Final in 1991.
With the game moving to a summer season in preparation for the start of Super League, the club were put in the Centenary Championship. Tony was a regular member of the team, with 10+1 appearances and five tries. He kept his place in the first Super League season when the Broncos, now coached by Tony Currie, finished fourth in the table. His 24 appearances that season gave him a total of 44+1 for the club with 11 tries.
Although only aged 30, he retired as a player at the end of the 1996 season, and became the club’s chief executive. This was an unusual move, and in 2001, following the departure of John Monie, he became joint first team coach with Les Kiss for the remainder of the season.
He continued as first team coach following Kiss’s return to Australia until July 2006, when he was replaced by Brian McDermott. He returned to the club in July 2012, initially as an interim replacement for Rob Powell. He continued in the post until early in the 2014 season, when he was replaced by Joey Grima.
Overall, Tony was a consistent presence at the club for almost 20 years, and was central to the club’s development in Super League.
“It was an honour to be able to add Tony Rea to our Hall of Fame, and for him to be there to receive the accolade,” said chairman of the LBSA Steve Newcombe. “A simple gift of a Broncos shirt to mark the occasion can’t do justice to the respect and admiration our members have for Tony, and for what he has achieved at the Broncos over many years as player, coach and administrator.
“It’s very important for our members to rejoice in the club’s past, but we are equally committed to the club’s future.”