FLASHBACK: July 1977

North Queensland recorded a momentous 17-14 win over Great Britain in front of 6,000 delirious fans at the Townsville Sports Reserve.

The British team embarked on a mini-tour after the World Cup tournament, in which they defeated New Zealand and France, but then went down to Australia in Brisbane and then 13-12 to Australia in the final in Sydney.

Britain were hard hit by injuries, with coach, David Watkins, a Welsh dual rugby international, coming out of retirement to help in the crisis after Scottish fullback, George Fairbairn suffered knee ligament damage early in the second half.

North Queensland led 17-0 at halftime with Phil Hopley, Noel Balderson and Will Cordwell scoring tries, while Mick Quinn kicked three goals and Bob Patterson one.

Britain, their pride severely dented, dug deep in the second half to score 14 points to nil with winger, Keith Fielding, a former England rugby union winger, scoring two tries, while mobile forward, Phil Hogan scored the other. Sammy Lloyd landed two goals.

The match was marred by three all-in-brawls.

.Toowoomba retained the Carlton Cup when they beat Gold Coast 28-22 in a stirring match at Toowoomba Athletic Oval.

Brilliant kicking by Gold Coast fullback, Peter Inskip kept his side in the match. Inskip landed five goals from six shots and gained good ground in general play.

.In Brisbane club football, Wests beat Valleys 12-11 in one of the greatest cliff hangers in the history of the code in the state’s capital.

Former Test winger, Wayne Stewart landed a long, angled penalty shot at goal, after the final siren, to give Wests their one point win.

The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon wrote that the better side had won in the best club match of the season.

Best players were fullback, Greg ‘Slippery’ McCarthy and five eighth, Wayne Carr (Wests); fullback, Alan Mills and halfback, Ross Strudwick (Valleys).

Former Murwillumbah Brothers’ hooker, Alan Nunan gave Redcliffe a two to one advantage from the scrums as the competition leaders held on for an 18-14 away win over Souths at Davies Park.

Redcliffe’s star was fullback, Richie Myers who was given great support by barnstorming forward, Forester Grayson. Skilful forward, Darryl Van de Velde scored two tries for Souths.

At Bishop Park, Norths scored five tries to one in beating Brothers 23-9. The score would have been far more lopsided except Norths’ winger, Bruce Warwick landed only four goals from 11 shots. Best for Brothers was lightweight second rower, Rod Ziebath.

In the Saturday Lang Park match, Easts produced top attacking form in accounting for Wynnum-Manly 20-7. Halves, Wayne Lindenberg and Wayne Woods were in sensational form for Easts, with centre, Steve Farquhar scoring two tries as a result of their lead-up work. Prop, Rod MacDougall and hooker, John Dowling were Wynnum’s best.

Meanwhile, it was announced there would be no return inter-state in Sydney, after new South Wales had won the first two matches of the series at Brisbane’s Lang Park.

The official reason given was the representative program had been excessively heavy, but everyone north of the border knew that New South Wales could not be bothered playing the Maroons in a ‘meaningless’ game.

Footnote: I played one starting game in first grade for Brothers in 1977 when the club was hard hit with injury. I have a feeling it was the above match at Bishop Park. It was definitely at Bishop (who could forget that), but it may have been in an earlier round. Suffice to say, I didn’t set the world on fire because coach, John Lohman sent me back to reserve grade the next week.

David Watkins

David Watkins

One response to “FLASHBACK: July 1977

  1. I was sitting in the Lang Park Outer for the Valleys/Wests match. When Wayne Stewart lined up that kick, I moved to the fence, as was the custom in those great days, to get the best angle right behind him. Absolute euphoria when it sailed over, although I felt a tinge of sadness when I looked back at my older brother, who was a staunch Diehards fan.

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