There are few within the Eastwood and Shute Shield community as widely loved and respected as Mr Programs himself, Gerard Landon.
A man of undivided passion and loyalty to his beloved Woodies, Gerard’s service to the Club stretches back to 1960, when the now 74-year-old was only thirteen.
At the time, Gerard was a spectator, cheering on his cousin’s boyfriend who happened to be in his debut season for Eastwood First Grade.
A fortnight later, Gerard was at the gate of Eastwood Oval selling programs, quickly gaining status within the Woodies community.
“It’s [Eastwood] like a second religion to me,” he said.
“People that know me very well know how important it is in my life.
“It was a seven-and-a-half kilometre walk from my house to T G Millner, I remember it well and loved every step.”
It’s fair to say volunteering is engrained in Gerard’s lifestyle, having dedicated time to St Vincent de Paul, Wheelchair Sports Australia, and the Sydney Special Olympics Team through his life.
However, most recognisably, Gerard was Volunteer No. 1 for the Sydney Olympics, a position he performed proudly for over seven years.
Gerard’s dedication to the Olympic Committee was recognised in the lead up to the Games, walking as part of the official Olympic Torch relay from his childhood town of Cootamundra.
“You can never get enough of volunteering,” Gerard admits.
“They were the good old days, when people were given a job and proud to perform it.”
General Manager of Eastwood Rugby, Robert Frost, has been a fan of Gerard’s long before the pair worked alongside each other at T G Millner.
“I’m slightly younger than Gerard and went to primary school in Eastwood,” he said.
“Often me and my mates would line the fence of the school yard and watch Gerard selling programs along the main street.
“Years later, when I became involved with Eastwood, I couldn’t quite believe it when Mr Programs himself happened to be working alongside me.”
In 2013, after decades of service as program seller, water boy and Team Manager, Gerard was named a Life Member of his beloved Woodies.
Robert Frost acknowledges he’s never seen a nomination quite so well received.
“We don’t have a lot of Life Members, it’s a very exclusive Club,” he said.
“Gerard is a volunteer extraordinaire. Everyone knows him and respects him immensely.
“If ever I need something done, I know that I can rely on Gerard to get it done for me. He’s an incredibly important and loved member of our organisation.”
For Gerard, his years of dedication to Eastwood is a simple combination of passion for the sport and a natural inclination to serve.
His prediction for the 2021 Shute Shield season is even more simple.
“Eastwood to beat Sydney University by 10-points in the Grand Final.”