FORMER Panthers player and radio personality Mark Bradley Geyer was awarded an Australia Day honour: an OAM, Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division.
Geyer, 44 of South Penrith, who received the medal for services to Rugby League and his work for charities, is being congratulated by his daughter (right).
‘‘It’s so overwhelming,’’ he said. ‘‘You never expect these things to happen to you.
‘‘You see it happening to other people, but when it happens to you it’s a bit surreal, and a bit embarrassing too.’’
Geyer played rugby from 1987 to 2000; for the Penrith Panthers, the Balmain Tigers and the Western Reds.
He also played in the NSW State of Origin and for the Australian Kangaroos.
Today he is an unqualified Panthers supporter.
‘‘I like the fact that I’ve stayed in Penrith and raised my kids here,’’ Geyer said.
Twelve years ago his world collapsed when he was told his football career was over.
‘‘I was 32, I had a family and a mortgage, but no idea of what I was going to do,’’ Geyer said. ‘‘I’d left school in year 10; I had no other qualifications.’’
He said that within a month he was working for a clothing company, but feeling he was drifting and going nowhere.
However he looked to charity work, in particular helping people with disabilities play sport.
‘‘I found that helping others was what gave me most pleasure,’’ Geyer said.
He has supported charities such as the PCYC, Work Direction, D-Sport, the Yellow Ribbon Foundation and the boxing event, Fight for Life.
In 2011 Geyer also organised the Legends of Origin Charity Match,which raised $455,345 for Queensland flood victims.
He eventually became a radio sports reporter before appearing on Channel 7 and other radio shows.
Today he is a presenter on Triple M’s Random Acts of Kindness.
‘‘I never thought I’d be in radio or TV,’’ Geyer said.
‘‘I enjoy talking about things that aren’t sport-related; about things that relate to other people.’’
‘‘Sporting careers finish very suddenly; you’ve got to have a plan B,’’ Geyer said.