Outside of the birth of his first child, the incredible NRL debut of Gordon Chan Kum Tong will forever be remembered as one of his most cherished days.
And to make Sunday, August 27, 2023, even more special was knowing his two-month-old son, Gemel, and partner, Mel, were there amongst over 150 family and friends at Accor Stadium, Homebush, as ‘little Gordie’ lived out his childhood dream.
Wearing jersey number 14, Chan Kum Tong received a huge cheer when the 173cm, 92kg hooker entered the field in the 30th minute.
You couldn’t miss the Chan Kum Tong fan club, too, with many proudly wearing black t-shirts with his name and photos across it. A huge sign adorned the fence, as well as a pull up banner featuring the words of the family motto – ‘Doubt Not and To Fear Not’.
“My side of the family are all short in stature. I always told him to take whatever comes to him, just to take it head on,’’ proud Mum, Fay, said after the game.
“We may be small, short in size, but we have got the biggest hearts. Anything is possible.”
It sure is. Even a goal in your NRL debut, after Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans threw Chan Kum Tong the ball to take a penalty attempt at goal in the 76th minute.
With his family and friends screaming in excitement to his right, Chan Kum Tong looked up towards the posts, and saw himself on the giant screen.
Displaying that now trademark infectious smile, Chan Kum Tong converted, and just like that, recorded his first NRL points.
“I’ve never taken a shot at goal in my life,’’ Cham Kum Tong laughed after the game.
“I was so nervous. Luckily, it went over”.
Three minutes later, the game was over, with Manly winning 42-24.
In just 32 minutes, Chan Kum Tong made 25 metres from three runs, 14 metres from two dummy half runs, and made 16 tackles for a 94% tackle efficiency rate.
Plus, those two points from a 100% goal conversion rate that may remain well into his NRL career. And as for his service from dummy half, 36 crisp passes.
Following full-time, Chan Kum Tong was swamped by excited team-mates, many of whom have shared his journey through the Sea Eagles Pathways program with. Radio stations rushed in, wanting to know more about the ‘new kid on the block’.
Then, there was another almighty roar, when Chan Kum Tong made his way to the fence to be greeted by more than 150 family and friends, who quickly showered him with traditional Samoan money leis, filled with lollies and endless $50 notes.
Post match, team-mates, coaches, and staff lined up for photos with Chan Kum Tong. That never ending smile just growing wider.
Soon, 15 of his immediate family entered the Manly dressing room.
Family is what it is all about for Gordon Chan Kum Tong, one of nine children, and the eldest at 21.
“Gordie is already a very good Dad. Everything is always about his son, now, ‘’ said his own proud father, Oka Jonathon.
“He tells his Mum and I that he has a son now, so he can’t look after us, and that he has got to look after Gemel.
“Every day when he comes home, or when he wakes up in the morning, he is so devoted to his son.”
Fay spoke passionately about what she had just witnessed.
“Gordie bleeds Manly. He has come through the Sea Eagles Pathways from a very young age,’’ Fay said.
“His ultimate goal was to make his NRL debut for Manly. He never lost sight of that mission.”
And for brother, Jonathan, who is one year younger and played all his junior footy with Gordon growing up, he reflected on their times. Jonathan played Harold Matthews Cup for Manly in 2018.
“Gordie has not only been my older brother, but my captain as well,’’ Jonathan added.
“We started together at the Bankstown Bulls and then went to Maroubra Lions. He was always told he was too small, that he wouldn’t make it.
“I was never as good as Gordie. He was the man.”
He certainly was on Sunday.