MAYHEM was the order of the day as bitter rivals Norths and Brothers slugged it out at Corbett Park in the last round of Brisbane Rugby League home and away fixtures in 1985.
Brothers’ coach, Ross Strudwick had tipped a bloodbath during the week after seeing the team named by Norths’ coach, John Barber, with Norths no chance of making the finals, whereas Brothers had already qualified, in second place.
Strudwick let loose in his weekly column in The Daily Sun, and as a result was hauled in by the Queensland Rugby League’s Brisbane Division, but after a long hearing escaped censure.
His column proved prophetic (although it takes two to tango) as all-in-brawls dominated the Corbett Park battle.
The third scrum of the match – in the ninth minute – broke up in an all-in-brawl – and the violence continued unabated to the end.
Referee, Brian Grant (originally from Lismore) sent four players to the sin bin for fighting – Dan Stains, Chris Roche (Brothers); Paul Bartier, Trevor Lucas (Norths) – and dismissed altogether Norths’ hooker, Steve Walters in the 52nd minute after he tangled with Brothers’ rival, Trevor Bailey.
Barber claimed Walters retaliated after being hit in the eye by a stray elbow.
Strudwick took journalists on a tour of the Brothers’ dressing rooms.
“Before I show you the damage that was done out there, I’ll tell you Joey (Kilroy) is in hospital with a suspected broken cheekbone and his eye is completely closed,” he said.
Strudwick then pointed to Stains as a doctor inserted 20 stitches – the legacy of a head butting duel with Bartier – and Roche who sported a closed left eye, with Strudwick claiming the former rugby union international had been gouged.
The same claims were made in reference to the closed left eye of prop, Brett Ferguson; the scratched left eye of second rower, Gary Smith and the red raw features of centre, Robert Grogan. Strudwick also drew attention to Bailey’s broken nose.
“How many more do you want to see?”, he asked.
Barber gave Brothers no chance of going on to win the premiership.
“Souths are living morals,” he said, a prediction that would be proved correct.
By the way – Brothers won the match 18-16.
In other final rounds matches:
- Test centre, Gene Miles, in his return to football after six months recovering from a knee injury, had his nose broken for the first time in his career, playing for Wynnum-Manly in their 32-10 win over Valleys at Kougari Oval. Miles also required stitches above and below the right eye after he was heavily tackled late in the match.
- Souths claimed the minor premiership with a 25-4 win over woodspooners, Wests at Davies Park. Test centre, Mal Meninga scored three tries for Souths.
- Easts held off a determined Redcliffe to win the Lang Park match of the day. The match was the last played by Redcliffe’s Test winger, John Ribot, who announced his retirement. Ribot had a stellar 1985 season, playing all three State of Origin matches for Queensland all three Trans-Tasman Tests.
Meanwhile, over the border at Tweed Heads, Seagulls beat Cudgen 14-8 in the Group 18 Grand Final. Tweed were coached by one of the club’s favourite sons, Mick Ryan, who had a long first grade career in Sydney.