April 1, 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of Lang Park’s new Frank Burke Stand, by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Abel-Smith.
The completion of the stand, on the western side of what is now Suncorp Stadium, ensured that future rugby league Tests against New Zealand, Great Britain and France, could be played on the code’s own ground. Previously, Test matches were played at the Gabba or the Exhibition Grounds.
Frank Burke, who at the time was the president of the Queensland Rugby League, had been untiring in his efforts to help make Lang Park a showpiece for the 13-man code. The stand’s capacity was 5,022, making it the largest single deck grandstand in Queensland.
The overall cost of the grandstand was approx. 60,000 pounds. The QRL spent a further 10,000 pounds providing toilet blocks, bars, referee’s room, dressing rooms, refreshment rooms, turnstiles, fencing and a concrete apron running along the front of the grandstand.
The Queensland Amateur Athletics Association held the summer rights for the use of Lang Park, which was not a classic rectangular field, given the presence of an athletics track around the perimeter, as well as a long jump, sand pit at the southern end, behind the dead-ball line.
A Bulimba Cup match between Brisbane and Toowoomba was played as part of the April 1 celebrations, with Brisbane, captained by Test halfback, Barry Muir, winning 21-12. Centre, Bill Pearson was Brisbane’s best back, while Mick Veivers and Peter Gallagher shone in the forwards.
The try of the match was scored by Toowoomba five eighth, Johnny Gleeson who stepped away from his opponent, former Kiwi star, Sel Belsham; straightened up in a dash for the goal line and swerved away from international fullback, Frank Drake to score near the posts.
The curtain raisers were two primary schools matches and a Trades and Labor Cup clash, all played between Brisbane and Toowoomba selections. The Brisbane six stone primary schools side included future Test winger, Warren Orr, while the 7st 7lb Brisbane side featured future State forward, Richie Twist.
The Frank Burke Stand was demolished in 1993, to make way for a new stand, with the redevelopment, as we know it today, completed in 2003.
1 The Frank Burke Stand in 1961
2 Frank Burke
3 The official program on match day
4 The teams.