Queensland Rugby League managing director, Ross Livermore said his organisation would not stand in the away of an independent commission taking over the game, but insisted grassroots development had to be at the heart of the new structure.
The main sticking point had been the reluctance of the QRL and NSWRL to accept sweeping changes, with clubs threatening to go their own way – via a new Super League – if the State bodies did not get with the program. (Self interest would not have been a factor!!!)
After Livermore spoke out on behalf of grassroots football, the Australian Rugby League vowed to take as long as necessary to ensure safeguards were in place for representative football and the juniors.
ARL chief executive, Geoff Carr even offered to step aside, if it would speed up the establishment of the commission.
.The Commission eventually came into being in February, 2012, my last year as chief rugby league writer for ‘The Courier-Mail’.
Also in December, 2009, St George’s first premiership winning halfback, Alby McAndrew died, aged 89.
He was reputedly the smallest halfback to represent New South Wales, when he played two matches against Queensland in 1940. He weighed less than 60kg. His Queensland rival was Les Ridgewell from the Ipswich Starlights Club.
Queensland won that series 3-1, and, after the fourth match, won 23-15 by Qld at the Gabba, The Courier-Mail’s L H Kearney had this to say about McAndrew.
“McAndrew, only a midget, stood up gallantly to his task, and at times bewildered the opposition with his artful thrusts. His try, from a clever intercept, was a particularly picturesque effort.”
In between Games 3 and 4, NSW played a Far North Coast of New South Wales’ side at Knox Park, Murwillumbah, winning 33-12 after being behind 12-10 at halftime.
The Far North Coast side included the likes of indigenous stars, Reg Booker, Stokel Currie and Cec Dodds from the Tweed and hooker, Arthur Sheridan from the Richmond, later a teammate of my father, Jon Ricketts at South Lismore. The FNC halfback was Ray Wise from Murwillumbah, who I met as a young footballer on the Tweed.
The Knox Park match was refereed by Rev. Father Bradley.
A Brighton Seagulls junior, McAndrew played first grade for St George, aged 17, and appeared in 69 first grade games until 1943, and was considered a ‘certainty’ for Test selection, until World War II intervened. McAndrew served with the 54th anti-aircraft regiment in Darwin. He resumed his football career in 1945, but could not recapture the form, which had made him such a star in St George’s 1941 premiership triumph.
1 Grassroots rugby league
2 Group 1 Richmond rugby league side, 1949. Inset left, Jon Ricketts. Skipper (with the Anthony Shield) is Podge Holwell from Ballina.