Gateshead Thunder of just pulled off a bit of a coup. The Championship 1 club has announced that Papua New Guinea legend Stanley Gene will take over as Head Coach following Kevin Neighbour’s decision to step down.
Thunder finished seventh out of nine in the bottom professional decision this season and the appointment of the 39 year old could be an inspired move. Gene who has been coaching experience with at Hull KR and PNG plus experience of almost 300 professional games in the UK with Hull KR, Hull FC, Huddersfield Giants, Bradford Bulls and Halifax – where all the fans view him as a legend – and 25 international caps could bring a new dimension to the North East club.
But hang on a minute, Gene is 39? If he is, he must have had the longest paper round in Goroka. Gene’s age is, a best, described as self certification and who would blame a rugby pro for trying to pull the wool over a club’s eyes when going for a new contract. A quick look at Stan would make you think he’s missed at least 10 years off his ‘official’ age.
According to a fascinating article about Stanley Gene on Wikipedia, his age has been the subject of some debate and confusion. With no official birth certificate issued when he was born, it has turned into a detective mystery for PNG’s National Agricultural Research Institute. Apparently his age correlates to a full moon, a sweet potato and plague of taro beetles! Really.
With such firm facts to work with, the researches, following instructions from Parliament in Port Moresby, think he may have been born in 1958, 1962 or 1970 which makes Gene somewhere between four and 16 years older than he claims!
Regardless of his age, I don’t think anyone at Gateshead Thunder will complain. They’ve signed an experienced old pro who is looking to develop his coaching career and he will still be the best player at the club, even if he is collecting his pension.