Donny Armstrong – a proud Sandhurst Dragon to the end

Donny Armstrong on the prowl in the Sandhurst rooms looking for jumpers and footballs. Picture: SANDHURST FNC
Donny Armstrong on the prowl in the Sandhurst rooms looking for jumpers and footballs. Picture: SANDHURST FNC

“Fabulous” Phil Carman was walking out of the Sandhurst rooms after playing his final game for the club in the late 1980s.

Carman had a penchant for keeping a jumper from every club he played at in his illustrious career.

Sandhurst property steward Donny Armstrong knew of Carman’s reputation.

Despite Carman’s profile and imposing stature, Donny wouldn’t let “Fabulous” leave the QEO until he emptied his playing bag and handed the jumper back.

That summed up Donny Armstrong’s passion for Sandhurst – no individual was bigger than the club.

Up until his passing late last month, Donny was involved with the Dragons for 50 years - firstly as a player and then as property steward.

“Donny was Sandhurst,’’ Dragons’ president Chris Greene said.

“All the virtues that we aspire to as a club, Donny delivered as an individual. He had high morals and values and worked extremely hard to maintain that.

“There’s coaches, there’s the president, there’s players and there’s the committee, but Donny was probably the most important person at the club.

“He was the one that we relied on for everything.”

Donny Armstrong regularly visited Harro's Car Wash on a Saturday night to use the high-pressure water gun on the Sandhurst jumpers.

Donny Armstrong regularly visited Harro's Car Wash on a Saturday night to use the high-pressure water gun on the Sandhurst jumpers.

Donny took his role as property steward very seriously. He was in charge of washing the jumpers and would regularly be seen at Harro’s Car Wash on a Saturday night spraying down the muddy guernseys before taking them home to wash and dry.

“There was a period back in the late 1990s where we were allowed to take our jumpers home, but Donny wouldn’t allow uni students to take their jumpers home because he felt they couldn’t be trusted,’’ Sandhurst’s Keiran Nihill said.

“Even the uni students who lived with their mum and dad couldn’t be trusted in Donny’s eyes to look after the jumpers.

“I’d hate to think how much money Donny saved the footy club through his collection of jumpers, footballs and witches hats. He used to drive around the ground with his lights on looking for stray footballs.

“If you ever drove past the QEO on a Sunday morning, Donny would be there cleaning up the rooms from the night before.

“He knew what exactly went on in The Den on a Saturday night based on what he was cleaning up on a Sunday morning.”

Donny was property steward through some successful eras with the Dragons, but premiership glory was not how he judged his beloved Sandhurst.

“Donny had a unique way of assessing how well the club was going,’’ Greene said.

“A few years ago we were second on the ladder in the firsts, first on the ladder in the reserves and someone made a comment to Donny about how the club was going beautifully.

“Donny responded with ‘worst coach ever… he lost three footballs on Tuesday night’.”

Donny Armstrong, left, was an inaugural inductee to the Sandhurst FNC Hall of Fame in 2012. He received his award from Trevor Kennedy. Picture: SANDHURST FNC

Donny Armstrong, left, was an inaugural inductee to the Sandhurst FNC Hall of Fame in 2012. He received his award from Trevor Kennedy. Picture: SANDHURST FNC

Donny also spent time as the club’s chef for Thursday night training tea and spent many an off-season painting and repairing the club rooms.

“Donny was so passionate about everything he did and he sucked everyone along because of that passion,’’ Greene said.

“He was engaging to people of all ages around the club.

“In the past 12 months we’ve lost (trainer) Max Healy, who was with the club for 33 years, and Donny 50 years which leaves a massive whole in the club.

“These days it’s mighty hard to get people like Max and Donny involved with clubs.”

Donny Armstrong, who was an inaugural inductee into the Sandhurst Hall of Fame, passed away at the age of 70. 

He is survived by his wife Elaine and sons Dean and Brad and their families.