Former Test rugby league winger, Michael Hancock was a ‘rev head’ in his younger days at Stanthorpe, where he said there wasn’t much to do as a teenager.
In an interview with The Courier-Mail’s Paul Malone, in August 1989, Hancock, now a development officer with the Broncos, said he got his ears pierced in his teens years, essentially because that was what his peers did.
“Those are the stages you go through, when you are growing up, going with the trend,” Hancock said. “When you get older, you think its stupid. I used to love working on cars. But you realise there is more to it, (life) than being a rev-head. I don’t have much time to work on cars now – or anything else, apart from football.
“At Stanthorpe, the police are on your backs about cars. The whole town knows everything you are doing. It’s a real country town.”
Hancock was only 19 at the time, but spoke as if he was much older.
I can confirm he was still something of a rev head head at the Broncos, because his arrival and departure from training, in his Holden ute, was usually at a fast pace. Mind you, he wasn’t alone. Some of the Broncos’ players blended in with the students who went to Ithaca TAFE, across the road from the footy field at Fulcher Road, Red Hill. The TAFE was known locally, as a ‘school for hoons’, with the ‘students’ speeding off, up Fulcher Road at the end of class.
At the time of Malone’s interview, Hancock was working at Motorama Toyota in Brisbane.
He had moved to Stanthorpe from Banyo in Brisbane in Grade 10 at high school, and was chosen in the Toowoomba (divisional) representative team aged, just 17.
In 1987 he played for a Queensland XXXX Youth Squad against Sydney Colts in a curtain raiser to the one off Test between Australia and New Zealand at Lang Park.
Former Test halfback, Dennis Ward was coach of the Qld side, while Penrith legend, Len Stacker had control of a Sydney team which included future internationals, Greg Florimo and Mark Geyer and Queenslander, Owen Cunningham.
Broncos’ general manager, John Ribot and director, Gary Balkin drove to Stanthorpe in a limousine to sign Hancock, in 1987.
“Being a car freak, I think he liked that,” Ribot said.
Coach of the Stanthorpe Gremlins A grade side that year was local publican, Peter O’Callaghan, a former Brisbane Valleys’ player and close friend of inaugural Broncos’ skipper, Wally Lewis.
Hancock’s sign-on fee was $500, and the Broncos got him a job at Souths Leagues Club, West End, where he earned another $120 a week.
“It didn’t go far, but there was a $1,500 win bonus, and we won our first six games in 1988,” Hancock told me, when I interviewed him for the book ‘Bennett’s Broncos’. “I didn’t play for the money. Yeah, it was a bonus. Look at Tiger Woods. He’s got a billion in the bank. Why does he keep playing? He wants to be the best player he can be.”
When Hancock was named to make his Test debut in 1989, he dedicated his jersey to his junior coach at Banyo, Graham Barry, a backhoe operator, who also owned a stud cattle property near Stanthorpe.
Hancock’s boyhood idol was Test winger, Kerry Boustead.
The above snippets were accessed from the ‘Errol Harris Collection’, which is in the hands of the Queensland Rugby League History Committee. The late Errol Harris was a prominent sports journalist, who started his career with the Tweed Daily News at Murwillumbah. He kept a meticulous filing system. Articles in the ‘Michael Hancock folder’ were written by the likes of Paul Malone, Michael Blucher, Mike Porter, David Falkenmire, Bernie Pramberg, Mitchell Murphy, Stephen Gray and yours truly.
1. Michael Hancock scores for the Broncos at ANZ Stadium.
2. Michael Hancock at work in 1990.