There is a plaque at Neumann Oval, Albion, to signify it was once the home ground of the mighty Fortitude Valley Rugby League Club.
It is now the Allan Border Field, home of Queensland Cricket.
There is nothing at Agincourt Street, Grange to tell people this was once the home of Past Brothers Rugby League Club (although the Leagues Club street signs are still there). Now there are two town house complexes occupying the land where the Leagues Club and football fields took pride of place.
The playing field was Corbett Park (a second field was added in the 1980s) and the first time I saw a match there was 1972, when Brothers’ beat a North Sydney side, coached by Team of the Century hooker, Noel Kelly, a product of Ipswich rugby league.
I missed the first half because I couldn’t find my way, even though I saw the floodlights in the distance, a good 10 minutes before the scheduled kick-off.
I had driven from Murwillumbah for the match and, without a street directory, had no concept of the street plan in the areas around Corbett Park, which were dissected by Kedron Brook.
Brothers beat the Bears, much to my surprise. How could a Brisbane club beat a Sydney outfit? But then again, it is the ‘bad news Bears’ we’re talking about.
The next time I ‘visited’ Corbett Park, I was playing third grade, for Brothers against Easts. I had two years with the ‘Fighting Irish’, and there were many happy times in the downstairs Dairy Bar, (named after Hickey’s Dairy, a Jersey stud/farm which used to occupy the land) and also in the auditorium, for official functions.
Brothers had a well equipped gym, for the era, and visiting rep sides, would use the facilities. For instance, in 1977, France’s World Cup squad trained at the ground in the build-up to a match against the Combined Brisbane representative side at Lang Park.
Photo 1: Members of the 1977 French World Cup side train at Corbett Park
That same year, Great Britain’s World Cup squad trained at ground, ahead of their match against Australia at Lang Park.
In 1979 I played a Woolies’ pre-season first grade match at Corbett Park – for the dreaded enemy, Norths Devils.
I had returned from a back packing holiday in Europe late in 1978, and was told by my old Brothers’ mates I would struggle even to make third grade, given the influx of talent, including David Sinclair (South Sydney); Greg Quinn, Rex Jorgensen (Ipswich) and Gary Richards (Redcliffe). State forward, Bob Cock had returned to Brothers from Nerang, while former Test winger, Wayne Stewart indicated he would make a comeback, after a season in retirement, following a long career at Wests.
So, along with Kingaroy Red Ants’ product, Dennis Moore I headed to Norths, where legendary president, Bob Bax signed us to contracts, on the back of beer coasters.
Brothers were too quick, too smart, in the Woolies, and we went down 17-5, in a match The Courier-Mail’s Lawrie Kavanagh described as a ‘shambles”. I played the entire pre-season in the firsts, but managed only one other game in first grade – against Redcliffe, the day they opened the new Dolphin Oval.
Norths, under Kiwi coach, Graham Lowe, finished fifth on the premiership ladder, while Brothers, coached by former State forward, Reg Cannon, finished seventh. (It was an eight club competition).
The next time I was back at Corbett Park, I was chief rugby league writer for the Brisbane Telegraph. It was 1981, and I covered matches and training sessions there, with Wayne Bennett the Brothers’ coach.
At the end of that season I captained Queensland Journalists against New South Wales journalists at Corbett Park, with former State referee, Bernie Pramberg (himself a journalist) in control. It was the last journalists’ inter-state match, and Queensland won. One of our best was Dennis Watt, who would go on to become Broncos chairman, and then Gold Coast Titans’ chairman.
From ’81 until ’87, when Brothers’ won their first premiership since 1968, I was a regular at Corbett Park. Sadly, I was there in ’88/89 when the extent of Brothers’ financial woes were revealed, and the leagues club had to shut its doors.
The South Queensland Crushers occupied the area ahead of their debut season in the Australian Rugby League in 1995, but lasted only three seasons, before they became victims of the Super League War. Their training fields became the town house complex – Hermitage Gardens – where my wife, Marie and I now live.
What prompted this article, is the imminent completion of ‘Grange Residences’, the new town house complex which occupies the area where the leagues club stood.
I walked though the streets of Grange Residences the other day, and I could have sworn I heard someone sing ‘so get in condition and fight for positiion, the Blue and White boys are the best….’
Photo 2: Action from a Brothers v Norths match at Corbett Park the same year.