OUR OWN DRAWCARD

By Steve Ricketts, secretary of the Queensland Rugby League History Committee.

One of the main draws for tourists from Queensland regional areas and New South Wales is the Suncorp Stadium/Caxton Street/Paddington/Milton precinct, and the only thing missing is a league museum.

There is an excellent historic display in Queensland Rugby League Central, Castlemaine Street, which is open to the public, free of charge, as long as they check in first at reception.

But is not a museum, and there is no suitable storage space for historic items, such as jerseys, pennants and footballs.

InBritain’ magazine features a ‘museums and galleries’ section, which includes sports related venues, such as Wembley, Old Trafford and Anfield.

Overseas visitors to the UK are not always able to get tickets to sporting events, but they can always go to a museum or stadium tour.

In a letter to ‘InBritain’ in 2002, Andrea Silva from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada commented on how the Anfield Museum was a great tribute, not only to teams, past and present, but also to the loyal fans. She also commented on the great range of souvenirs.

I believe there would be many such testimonials to a properly fitted out museum; a tour of the dressing rooms and playing area, at Suncorp Stadium, followed perhaps by a meal and a few drinks at The Caxton, XXXX Brewery, the Paddo or Newstead Brewery.

It’s a no brainer, and remains the main aim of Queensland Rugby League History Committee, of which I am secretary.

But it would require State Government funding, or the backing, perhaps, of the business community in the Suncorp Stadium precinct.

Why just have people rocking up on match day. Why not have them there 365 days a year.

My wife and I made one of the first guided tours of Wembley Stadium, in late 1977, and even then it was a great experience, going into the sheds, seeing jerseys hung on the hooks, and then walking out onto the (edge of) the pitch, to the background noise of the crowd (recorded of course).

Our guide was relatively well versed in the history of the stadium (he was of Dutch origin, if my memory serves me well), and mentioned that Challenge Cup Rugby League finals and the occasional league Test were played there.

But when he listed some of the heart breaking events from Wembley’s history, he overlooked arguably the saddest tale of all – Don Fox’s miss, from in front of the posts, attempting the conversion of a last minute try by Wakefield winger, Ken Hirst, in what was dubbed the ‘watersplash’ final, because of a torrential downpour late in the game. Leeds won 12-11, and Fox was inconsolable, even though he was named Lance Todd Trophy man of the match, an award voted on before his miss, 

I set our guide straight, and he promised to mention the Fox ‘tragedy’ to future groups.

Photo: Wembley Stadium in the 1970s.

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