By Steve Ricketts. QRL History Committee.
A one club man, Gary Parcell played all of his eight Tests for Australia and 14 matches for Queensland from Ipswich Brothers.
The Parcell name is revered in Ipswich and surrounds, with Gary’s father, Perc having played seven times for Queensland in the 1920s, while Gary’s son, Steve toured France with Queensland Residents in 1989. Steve’s son, Matt played in the NRL for the Broncos and Manly, and has spent the last four seasons in the English Super League.
Gary, a farmer from Harrisville, toured England and France with the 1959-60 Kangaroos and was back in the UK at the end of 1960, for the World Cup.
Mobile for a big man, Parcell proved a headache for the best defensive sides. One of his finest displays came in the First Test of the 1959 tour of England, at Swinton, where he tore into the British pack in Australia’s memorable 22-14 win, in front of a parochial crowd of 35,141.
It was the work of the likes of Parcell, Brian Hambly and Billy Wilson which laid the platform for the Kangaroos’ speedy backline, with young centre, Reg Gasnier scoring three tries.
But the Test which gave Gary the most satisfaction was the opening match of the 1960 series against France, in Sydney, when the entire Australian front row hailed from Ipswich.
Parcell and Dud Beattie (Railways), were the props, while Noel Kelly played hooker. Kelly was selected from Ayr, in North Queensland, where he had taken on a captain-coach role, but he hailed from Ipswich, having played there with Goodna and Brothers.
In fact, there were five Queenslanders in the Australian pack, with Elton Rasmussen (Toowoomba) and Jim Paterson (Townsville) in the second row. The only New South Welshman was lock, Johnny Raper, from St George. The match finished a try-less 8-8 draw.
Noel Kelly died earlier this year, while Dud Beattie passed away in 2016.
Parcell was first chosen for Queensland in 1954. He travelled to Sydney with the Maroons, but did not get a run.
He made his debut against New South Wales in 1956, and played against the touring New Zealand side the same year. He played 11 more matches against NSW, and one match against France, in 1960.
In 1959, he was part of the Queensland side which won the inter-state series 3-1, the last Maroons’ series triumph until State of Origin football began in 1980.
At the instigation of Queensland coach, Mal Meninga, Parcell and other members of that 1959 side, were honoured at a gala dinner, ahead of the 2013 Origin series, with players from the two eras swapping stories, during an emotional jersey presentation ceremony.
Parcell also enjoyed considerable success in the inter-city, Bulimba Cup competition, with the 1958 campaign one of the most memorable.
Ipswich beat Toowoomba 15-10 in the final, played in front of a record Ipswich crowd of 7,242, with Parcell scoring the match winning try.
“The fiery, cruel tackling Ipswich pack were once again the winning factor,” wrote Jack Reardon in ‘The Courier-Mail’. “Dud Beattie was powerful in the rucks, where he and fellow forwards, Gary Parcell, Jim Foreman, Noel Kelly and Mick Scully took the edge off the speed of the Toowoomba forwards, with manhandling tackles.”
A week earlier, Ipswich had beaten country champions, Rockhampton 34-26, with Kelly and Parcell the shining lights in the pack. The score was 26-all late in the game, but Parcell and Beattie set up a try for Viv Watterson from the West End club, to break the deadlock.
Despite offers from Sydney clubs, Gary Parcell retired at the end of the 1960 season, aged just 28.
He died on Monday, November 30, aged 87. His funeral will take place at Harrisville on Thursday, December 10.
.An interview with Gary Parcell, conducted by Steve Ricketts and Peter Psaltis at Gary’s Harrisville home in 2013, can be viewed on www.qrl.com.au
1 Gary Parcell sets up an attacking raid against France in Bordeaux in 1959
2 Gary Parcell and his son, Steve ahead of the Queensland Residents’ tour of France in 1989, for which Steve was chosen, from the Ipswich Jets.