We caught up with Graeme Huther, a Signwriter from Gladstone Qld, who loves the Broncos so much he’s painted his house the team colours!
When did you first start supporting the Broncos?
“I’m originally a Kiwi, and I wasn’t that into League but my wife was always watching Origin and that got me following the team in the early 2000’s. And then I got very passionate about it!”
So how big a fan are you?
“Once I started watching the games, I began collecting Brisbane Bronco paraphernalia.
The walls of our house are painted maroon and yellow inside and they’re just covered from ceiling to floor of Bronco pictures.
Even on my car we have an NRMA Broncos logo. Our clothing is always Broncos – we’re pretty tragic.”
But Graeme’s relationship with the Bronco’s was to go far further than just being mad about the team.
In 2007 the Huther family got some devastating news. Their daughter Melinda, 15, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and given six months to live.
How did that impact your family?
“Our lives dramatically changed - it was a pretty tough time. We didn’t know if we were going to keep her or not.
In the early stages of her treatment I wanted to do something to keep my wife and Melinda’s spirits up so I sent a message to the Broncos clubhouse.
I asked if Darren Lockyer could send through a message to the hospital.
Catherine Bennett, (Wayne Bennett’s daughter) the co-ordinator for the players, called and said Darren would prefer to come and meet us in person.”
So you got to meet him?
“Later that week as I was leaving the hospital he walked past me, and I said, “I’m Melinda’s father” and he said, “great - take me to the room”.
My daughter couldn’t talk after the surgery but when she saw Darren she summoned him over and kissed his hand, and totally brightened up.
“That was very exciting. He sat with us for a full half an hour and he had us take photos of him, and let us do the whole fan stuff. We were the whole talk of the hospital.
Plus as he was leaving my son arrived, and he waited and spoke to him and signed one of his cards. It was such an unreal experience.”
How did it affect Melinda?
“I still to this day reckoned it help Melinda’s recovery.
A couple of months later, when Melinda was in rehab and learning to walk again, we went to a team training.
Darren came up and sat with us on the bench and talked to us about how things were going for Melinda.
He did that every time we went along.”
Do you still keep in touch?
“When my son turned 18, Darren showed up at his party and gave him his season membership and had a few beers.
That was a pretty awesome night for a Broncos fan. Drinking some beers downstairs with him – it was pretty extraordinary.”
How is Melinda going?
“Now she’s great. She works at Best and Less, and in November she got flown to Sydney as the customer champion for the company.
They put us up for two nights in Sydney. Today she’s still on cloud nine about it.”
And how do you think the Bronco’s will go this season?
“Last year they made the grand final and they lost in the last second. As a fan it was absolutely heart wrenching.
This season we want premiership!”