IN arguably the most dramatic start to a representative rugby league season in Queensland, virtually the entire Brisbane Bulimba Cup side was dropped after the players refused to back down on demands for a three pounds bonus.
Despite fielding a patched up side for much of the home and away season against Ipswich and Toowoomba, Brisbane went through undefeated, and claimed the Bulimba Cup for the first time since 1932.
After beating Ipswich 26-12 at the Gabba in the first round of the competition, news surfaced the players had demanded the three pounds bonus, or they would not take the field.
They got their way, but ahead of the next match against Toowoomba the Brisbane Rugby League demanded they accept payment as decided by the BRL management committee “when profits for the match are known”.
Players were asked to sign on the dotted line or risk being axed.
The following day 15 of the 17 players were axed for failing to meet the deadline, the only exceptions being international centre, Jack Reardon and former Leeds (England) star, Eric Harris, who was in Canberra attending a physical fitness conference when the written ultimatum was delivered.
Edward ‘Babe’ Collins, Brisbane’s captain for the match against Ipswich, told The Courier-Mail his players had no intention of demanding another bonus ahead of the game in Toowoomba, and they resented the BRL’s apparent doubting of the players’ integrity.
Brisbane’s ‘scratch’ side beat Toowoomba 16-6, with players each receiving a one pound bonus from gate takings of 85 pounds. Brisbane’s half share of the gate left the BRL with a loss on the trip.
The ‘rebel’ players gradually returned to favour with the selectors after an easing of the hard-line stance by the BRL, and with close to a full strength side Brisbane defeated Ipswich 8-2 at Ipswich in the return match, to clinch the Cup.
Possession favoured Brisbane more than two to one, and the home side displayed heroics in defence rarely seen on a football field.
“I do not remember seeing a Bulimba Cup team so great in defeat,” wrote The Courier-Mail’s L H Kearney.
The star of the match was Brisbane forward, Jack ‘Gun Boat’ Ryrie, who was tireless in the loose and the rucks, and showed great pace in scoring a try from the blindside of a scrum.
Ipswich’s former Barcaldine representative, Eric Bowe was close to the most penetrative back on the field and was warmly applauded by the crowd of 3,800.
Meanwhile, the Tweed District, just over the border in New South Wales, accepted an offer from Brisbane Valleys to play a match at Knox Park, Murwillumbah on June 9.