Murwillumbah Brothers broke a seven year drought when they won the Group 18-Gold Coast A grade premiership by defeating Cudgen 11-0 at the new Murwillumbah Oval.
Brothers’ winger, Athol Gear, who would go on to play with Norths in Brisbane, scored the only try of the match, after weaving his way past several defenders mid-way through the second half.
Gear was the star of the match, but Brothers’ halfback, Des Lee wasn’t far behind. Lee, a courageous player, went on to play for Central Charlestown in Newcastle and Wynnum-Manly in Brisbane. He also coached Brothers’ under-18s in 1969.
In the first half, Cudgen second rower, Ray Kelly pounded through the defence in a spectacular run, only to fall to diminutive Brothers’ fullback, Brian ‘Tussles’ Alexander, just short of the try-line.
Brothers’ defence was a feature of the first half when Cudgen’s attack looked at its most dangerous, with second rowers Kelly and Russell Lawrence and centres, Gerald Chadburn and Graham Appo looking sharp.
Brothers led 6-0 at halftime with captain-coach, Bob Pannowitz, a Maitland (Newcastle) product, kicking two field goals and a penalty goal.
Old Boys defeated Murwillumbah rivals, Souths 15-7 in reserve grade, while Tweed Heads Seagulls defeated souths 11-0 in under-18s. Cudgen defeated Gold Coast Tigers 9-6 in the inaugural under-16 grand final.
It was also the first grand final day at the new Murwillumbah Oval. Previously grand finals were played at Knox Park, which also had a cycle velodrome around it. Group 18 grand finals were held in such regard that Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper would sent reporters to Murwillumbah. In 1969 it was Lawrie Kavanagh’s turn.
He described the grand final as one of those tough, honest, tight matches with stonewell defence stifling bright attack. “There were only two breaks in the match,” he wrote.
I watched the match from ‘the hill’ and thought it was a beauty. But I was biased.
.That Brothers’ 1969 side will be honored at a reunion at Murwillumbah Leagues Club on Sunday, October 27 at 10.30 a.m. The cost is $25.
.I played under-18s for Brothers in 1969, and we were beaten by eventual grand finalists, Souths in the knock-out semi-final, at Knox Park.
Photo: Geoff Nunan, one of Brothers’ 1969 heroes, on the burst against Souths.