Vale Mal Cheney: Parramatta Eel #317

The Pirtek Parramatta Eels Board, team, staff and management would like to extend their sympathy to the Cheney family following the passing of Mal Cheney, a member of the Eels Family.

Mal, originally from Wagga Wagga, joined the club in 1974 and made his debut that year as the 317th man to wear the Blue and Gold.

He played 16 top grade games for Parramatta across the 1974 and 1975 NSWRFL seasons, running out alongside internationals Dennis Fitzgerald, Mal McMartin, John Quayle and John Vincent.

Mal scored his first points for the Blue and Gold in 1975 when the first-grade Eels side defeated  the Bears at North Sydney Oval, and later in September, he wore jersey number 14 for Terry Fearnley's 1975 Parramatta reserve grade squad as they defeated Cronulla in the Grand Final at the SCG.

After finishing his playing career with Waratah Mayfield, Mal began his coaching career in Bateman's Bay, leading his team to grand final victories in 1979 – his first year as coach – and 1986.

Mal also had a successful career in the media after his playing days, working with local media outlets Radio 2EC, the Bay Post and Moruya Examiner as a reporter and broadcaster before his health took a turn for the  worse.

Mal was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008, with surgeons in the Canberra ICU who operated on him at the time giving the former prop only two days to live. Mal continued the fight with chemotherapy and radiotherapy before heading home to convalesce.

He spent most of his last few years at home in Bateman's Bay, finally moving into Edgewood Park Nursing Home late in 2012. Mal remained in contact with former teammates like John Vincent, and enjoyed strong support from the local rugby league community and the Men of League.

“It is a sad day whenever we lose a member of the Eels Family. Our thoughts are with his family and close friends at  this time.” said Pirtek Parramatta Eels CEO Ken Edwards.

Mal is survived by wife Leslie, daughter Ashlee and son Matthew.