Sixty-six-year-old Paul Hodder, like most of us, has a number of life treasures that he holds onto dearly. Debra, his wife and soulmate whom he met in Grade 11 at Toowong State High School, their two daughters, playing rugby league with the greats of the sport in Queensland, and fishing and living on Bribie Island, where he coaches a junior rugby league team and helps by delivering Meals on Wheels.
Born in New Zealand, he and his parents moved between Australia and New Zealand several times, which had the family living in 43 different homes and Paul attending 19 different schools in the two countries. Growing up he showed a consuming passion for sport, playing rugby league, soccer, VFL and rugby union. In the end rugby league won out!
Newly married to Debra, the couple settled into a one-bedroom unit behind the ‘XXXX’ brewery in Milton. Working for Coca Cola, he joined the Wests Panthers Leagues Club, during which time he captained the club’s C grade side and won a grand final. “That was in front of 30,000 spectators!” he said. He was also a team member in other grades that won consecutive grand finals. “While playing at Lang Park one day, my lovely German short-haired pointer, Penny, came looking for me and ended up on the field of play. Fortunately, Debra was able to take her home. I think Penny was the first dog to play footie at Lang Park”, he laughingly remembers. He played 40 ‘A’ grade games alongside Greg Oliphant and Norm Carr and others against the likes of Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, and Mal Meninga. “I based my playing style on the great Artie Beetson”, he recollects.
The couple spent the next seven years travelling round Australia in a caravan, searching for their ideal spot at which to retire. One of their daughters moved to Bribie, sealing the decision for them. They found an old 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom home at Banksia Beach, which they bought and renovated it to their liking. The rest is history!
“I have four great grandchildren, two of whom live on Bribie. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels and coach the Under 12 Warrigals rugby league team. What could be better?” says a very satisfied Paul Hodder.