REFEREE, Bernie Pramberg sent five players from the field in a sensational Woolies pre-season semi-final between Redcliffe and Wests at Lang Park.
The match, won 37-0 by Wests, was condemned as “a joke’ and “disgraceful” by The Courier-Mail’s chief league writer, Jack Reardon, a former Australian representative.
Before the match, the animosity between former Redcliffe captain, Ron Raper (Wests coach) and Redcliffe coach, Barry Muir, was still making headlines.
Raper, in his first season as coach of Wests, had guided the Panthers to a 26-24 grand final triumph over Muir’s Redcliffe outfit in 1975.
The first player to go in the Woolies’ match was Redcliffe prop, John Barber, who kneed a Wests’ player from the kick-off.
Redcliffe hooker, Bob Jones was next, marched 10 minutes into the second half for stamping on an opponent’s hand. Soon after a fierce brawl erupted in front of the Frank Burke Stand, and continued for two minutes.
Wests’ centre, Harry Cameron (a former Sydney Easts’ star) and Redcliffe prop, Bevan Bleakley (a heavyweight boxer) finished against the boundary fence, after their brawl took them over the sideline advertising hoardings.
As a result of the brawl, Redcliffe’s other prop, Steve Bullow, a solicitor, and Wests forward, Rod Bradshaw, were sent off, Bullow for an elbowing offence and Bradshaw for a late tackle. Bullow also found himself in hot water for allegedly abusing a touch judge.
A minute later Redcliffe fullback, Tony ‘Hun’ Obst was sent off for kneeing an opponent.
The following bans were imposed:
- Barber – 3 weeks
- Jones – 2 weeks
- Bullow – 3 weeks
- Obst – 2 weeks
- Bradshaw – 1 week
The next morning, veteran ‘Telegraph’ reporter, Harry Jefferies was sent to Redcliffe to interview Barber and to get a photo. Bizarrely, the Telegraph photographer asked Barber to get his lawn mower out of the garage, and to cut the grass at the front of the property. It was 6 a.m., and the scene had neighbours scratching their heads. (Of course, these days, uncaring suburbanites are out with their leaf blowers around that hour. But I digress).
The Redcliffe players appealed, but Bullow was the only one to ‘succeed’ with his two week ban for elbowing cut to one, while he was found not to have a case to answer on the matter of abusing the touch judge.
Wests went on to claim the Woolies’ title, accounting for Easts 16-8 in the final at Lang Park, with Redcliffe beating Norths 34-8 in the play-off for third spot.
“Only the club selectors knew the (Norths and Redcliffe) teams, which mainly read like lists of ‘who is it?’ wrote Jack Reardon. “Norths points came from three penalty goals by Bruce Warwick in the first half, and G Biggam (wearing jersey 15) kicked a second half goal.”
Footnote: Does anyone out there know anything about G Biggam? He is not featured in ‘Stand Up and Cheer’, the book of the first 75 years of Norths’ history.