FLASHBACK: April, 1936

Brisbane suffered a humiliating 17-6 loss to Tweed, at Knox Park, Murwillumbah, while Lismore forced a 12-all draw with Ipswich at Oakes Oval, Lismore in a flurry of cross border representative football, on the Anzac weekend of 1936.

Brisbane were missing some of their best players, who were on duty with a South Queensland team at Gympie. But Tweed also were without some of their ‘gun’ players, who were involved in a ‘Group’ match at Grafton.

The most notable loss from the Tweed side was former Wallaby, Jack Steggall, who was representing Group 1 (Tweed, Byron and Richmond) in a match against a Combined Group 2/3 side (Clarence to the Manning).

Murwillumbah halfback, Ray Wise inspired the Tweed side to its victory over Brisbane, and was given tremendous support by indigenous stars, five eighth, Reg Booker and brothers, Cecil and Charlie Dodds, on the wings.

Brisbane enjoyed a majority of possession, but the Tweed forwards, led by skipper, Joe Doyle, tackled themselves to a standstill.

The receipts for the Knox Park match were 80 pounds, which meant Brisbane would make a 30-pound profit on the trip.

Ipswich led 10-2 at halftime against Lismore, with lock, Bill Ryan from Ipswich Eastern Suburbs club, the inspirational player for the visitors.

But Lismore fought back brilliantly.

The prospect of an honourable draw came down to a shot at goal from the sideline by Noel Bowden, after Percy Hook had scored a try. Bowden was up to the task, much to the joy of the home crowd, which included my grandfather, Charles Mortimer Kelly, who lived just across from Oakes Oval, in Magellan Street.

In Grafton, Jack Steggall, who had played 10 union Tests for Australia, captained Group 1, who were beaten 34-8, with Groups 2/3 leading 26-0 at halftime. 

But Steggall, who had toured New Zealand and South Africa with the Wallabies, turned in a polished display, handling faultlessly; kicking accurately with both feet, and with fine judgement in the tightest situations. His tackling also was noteworthy.

Steggall was born at Geraldton in Western Australia, but went to school at Toowoomba Grammar in the 1920s, where he played rugby league. On leaving school, he played league with the Valleys’ club in Toowoomba.

When rugby union reformed in 1929, he joined the 15-man code. (Union had gone into recess in 1919, with all clubs, schools and universities playing league through the 1920s).

A solicitor, Steggall played league in Cairns when he started to practice in the North Queensland centre. His legal practice then took him to Murwillumbah, where he signed with the Kangaroos’ Rugby League Club.

Steggall was the grandfather of Olympic Alpine Ski-er, Zali Steggall.

The best forward on the ground, in the Group match, was Joe Cordwell, the South Grafton lock, who scored two tries.

Meanwhile, in Gympie, a South Queensland selection defeated Wide Bay 37-3, with Rockhampton winger, Harold ‘Cocky’ Roberts, a Mount Morgan product, scoring an amazing six tries.

Writing for ‘The Courier-Mail’, Harry Sunderland reported that there were many sparkling incidents in attack, but “the forward play had a sluggishness about it, that was alarming, when one contemplates the building of a State 13”.

The South Queensland team was regarded as experimental, with some Toowoomba players not considered, as the city’s representative side was playing Warwick and District on the Anzac Weekend.

The day after the match, Sunderland, who was also secretary of the Queensland Rugby League, met with Wide Bay officials to assure them the region would be allocated a match against the touring Great Britain side later that year, with Maryborough likely to be the venue.

Wide Bay had been excluded from the original itinerary.

In England, Leeds defeated Warrington 18-2 in the Challenge Cup Final on a warm, sunny day at London’s Wembley Stadium, in front of a crowd of 51,250.

Leeds’ first try – to Welshman Ike Isaac – resulted from a high kick by former Toowoomba winger, Eric Harris. Warrington players claimed Isaac was off-side, but Featherstone referee, Albert Dobson, did not hesitate to award the try.

Known as ‘The Toowoomba Ghost’, Harris scored the try of the match in the second half, when he beat three defenders, kicked ahead, beat two more men, regained the ball and scored near the posts.

The Challenge Cup was presented to Leeds’ skipper, Jim Brough, by Lord Derby.

Jack Steggall

Action from the 1936 Wembley Challenge cup final. Leeds’ players are wearing the dark shorts

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