The outlaws who care for their own
September 03, 2012
THEIR reasons are above the door inside their Milperra clubhouse. Photos and dates around men with names like Leroy, Foggy, Dog and Sparra.
Names you might have heard of, above a date we will never forget.
Father's Day, 1984. The Milperra Massacre.
And so on Saturday the Comanchero motorcycle gang, outlaws, gathered for their annual memorial ride from Milperra to the Palmdale Crematorium at Ourimbah on the Central Coast, where they have 60 plots set aside for their fallen.
It means something to all of them, and everything to one of them ...
It was a slow ride.
Outside the gate at Milperra was strike force Raptor, and even before it started the gate to their compound slid open and a uniformed policeman strode in.
"Here they come," one said.
"He's got the walk," said another.
As Raptor started checking names and bikes, an emergency run was made for helmets. One Comanchero wanted a face mask.
Acting president Mark Buddle laid down the rules. No talking, act polite, and then: "Let's get the f ... out of here".
They weaved through Sydney to the F3, and at Mooney Mooney picked up another hundred or so riders who had travelled down from northern chapters.
Leading them was northern region commander Steve McCurday, whose nickname Twiggy relies on just a smidgen of irony.
Buddle was chauffeur-driven in an Audi. Others also went by car, but mostly they stretched along the F3, for almost a kilometre, side by side.
Jock Ross was supposed to be at Palmdale on Saturday. Kicked out of the club years ago, Ross' fame has had a resurgence since he was portrayed in the TV series earlier this year, and an olive branch went out. So too to Sunshine, Ray Kucler, whose bloodied face as he talked to police, after convincing other bikies to drop their weapons, remains one of the enduring images from 1984.
When they didn't show, the word went around that they were worried about the state's new consorting laws.
Instead, Ross attended the gravesite earlier in the day, on his own. Sunshine went yesterday.
Police believe the motive for the callback was an effort by those running the Comanchero now to prove they are nothing more than men who like to ride together.
And as all this was going on a woman to whom it meant everything walked around, inconspicuous to anyone that did not know her.
A patch on the back of her black vest said: "In Memory of Foghorn". Another said: "In My Heart Forever Daddy".
Some 200 Comanchero walked past the gravesite, pouring a beer over each headstone, sometimes a water, and gathering for a small eulogy, a thanks, and a cheers to former president Mick Hawi, now launching his appeal in jail.
The plot has a large rock, with a "Comanchero MC" plaque. Underneath the rock is a Harley Davidson that once belonged to John Boy, another fallen member.
"For years a lot of people thought it was a bit of a myth but it was there," Twiggy says.
"We put it under a 200 tonne press, it's all a compacted block."
Every fallen Comanchero is represented, even those whose family preferred they be buried or cremated elsewhere.
"We keep something of theirs," says Twiggy.
"Maybe their burnt colours, trinkets. It's all burned."
They headed to Somersby where there were more photos inside the clubhouse, more dates.
Even after the barbecue started it remained sombre and quiet, with kids and wives and not enough food. Nothing like you'd expect.
Some photos inside were the same as in Milperra, and so Twiggy was asked, the woman in the vest, is she related to Foggy?
Jess Old was five when her father, Robert "Foghorn" Lane, was shot dead at Milperra. He was Comanchero vice-president and a single father raising five-year-old twins on his own, and Jess' whole world changed then.
Her grandmother adopted her, and it wasn't until eight years later that she learned who her dad was, and how he died.
A man she thought was a family friend who visited every Christmas was actually "Snow", or Ian White, her dad's best friend and a Comanchero life member.
When the truth came out Snow began to tell her about her dad, and in the years since she has learned all she can from other members.
Now 33, she made her first memorial run when she was 19 and has done maybe 10 since.
"It means the world to me," she said. "If it wasn't for Twig and the boys I'd never really know anything about my dad."