The South Sydney Rabbitohs are saddened to hear of the passing of former Club Doctor of the 1950’s, Dr William ‘Bill’ Thurlow OAM, on Tuesday 10th June, 2014.
Affectionately known simply as ‘Dr Bill’, the proud Rabbitoh tended to the needs of South Sydney players during one of the Club’s great golden eras – including the famed 1955 Premiership led by Jack Rayner.
Dr Bill was born in Warwick, Queensland on June 9, 1921. Throughout his youth he displayed an interest in health and fitness and competed often, with great success in cycling events and rugby union.
His formative years were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, whereupon he promptly enlisted in the RAAF on the 14th of February 1940. He served both in Australia and overseas, climbing to the rank of Sergeant upon his discharge on the 2nd of November 1945.
Following the war, he pursued his Medical career at Sydney University and graduated with his MBBS in 1952. He then worked at various hospitals and private practices in Sydney and from the early days of his medical career, volunteered his time on many sporting teams, including but not limited to; the Rabbitohs and the Kangaroos, as well as Olympic campaigns such as the 1960 Rome Olympics.
It was on the eve of the 1960 Olympics – where Dr Bill would serve as part of Australia’s Olympic medical team – that he married Olympic swimmer Lorraine Crapp.
In 1972 he, Lorraine and their four young children moved to Forster on the North Coast of NSW where he began his own practice, starting at a time when the medical services for rural areas was vastly limited. He was an ‘old school’ doctor who saw a range of patients and conditions in a day, from the common cold through to performing operations and delivering babies. Being a rural area with limited facilities – including no local hospital at the time – he was for many often the first phone call in the middle of the night to attend to serious illness and accidents.
Dr Bill also provided countless hours of volunteer weekend medical coverage to two local football teams (Forster Tuncurry Hawks and Taree Old Bar RLFC). This coverage also involved the donation of not just his time and expert sports injury knowledge but also the provision of medical supplies (strapping tape, pain relief, sutures and bandages) free of charge to the players. Due to the fact that local sporting teams were severely financially limited, Dr Bill recognised the need for proper health care of the players and made himself available without any expectation of reward, financial or otherwise.
Bill, in addition to receiving countless letters of appreciation from various individuals and sporting organizations also received recognition for his expertise, being recognized for his high level of service to the field of sports medicine in Australia by being made a Member of the Order of Fellows of the Australian Sports Medicine Federation. In addition, Bill received international recognition by being made a Fellow of the International Sports Medicine Federation.
Throughout his years, he continued to work the Medical Practice that he began in Forster, with the aid of his wife, until recently when he suffered a stroke and was forced into retirement.
After a leading a life full of achievement, Dr Bill passed away on Tuesday 10th June, 2014. He is survived by four children and five grandchildren.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs Family would like to offer their deepest condolences to the friends and family of Dr Bill.
Volunteer Medical Officer Roles;
- Medical Officer South Sydney Rabbitohs District Rugby League Football Club 1954 – 1960
- Medical Officer Prague Soccer Club, Sydney 1958 – 1961
- Medical Officer Boxing Board Rome Olympics 1960
- Medical Officer Wrestling Team to Rome Olympics 1960
- Medical Officer Australian Kangaroos Rugby League Team 1956 Tour
- Medical Officer Australian Iron man Triathlon 1982-1990
- Medical Director Wrestling, Australia Games, Brisbane, 1982
- Australian Representative International Boxing Board
- Medical Officer Group 3 Rugby league teams, Forster - Tuncurry Hawks, and Old Bar 1980-1990
- Advisor to Boxing NSW and Wrestling.