FLASHBACK: AUGUST 1996

AUGUST 1996

Nerang Roosters’ rugby league coach, Robert Grogan made no apologies for the way his men played the game after a torrid match against the Broncos’ Colts saw the Brisbane club threaten to withdraw from the Gold Coast-Group 18 competition.

“These kids are playing a man’s game,” Grogan said. “There were no problems here, until they (Broncos Colts) came into the Group. If they don’t like it, let them go play marbles.”

The Broncos fielded first grade and reserve grade teams in the ARL’s Optus Cup, and put a Colts team into the Gold Coast competition, playing under the banner of the Beenleigh club.

Brisbane officials and senior players expressed their dismay at the way the Colts were targeted by ‘old heads’ in clubs on the Gold Coast and from the Tweed, with Beenleigh’s injury list one of the longest in the competition.

In the match against Nerang, Beenleigh had three players concussed and another left with a cracked cheekbone. Nerang’s Willie Beetham and Roland Russell were sent off and suspended for five and three weeks respectively. Matt Curtis was cited on two high tackle charges.

Senior Broncos’ players who watched the match video were shocked by the number of ‘cheap shots’, with St George signing, Gorden Tallis saying he would like ‘just one match against those bastards” to “sort out” some of the players who targeted the

youngsters.

Broncos’ football manager, Bob Cutmore said the Colts had started the season with 24 players, but were down to 14 fit men ahead of a match against Southport at Beenleigh.

Cutmore blamed the injury toll on foul play.

“If the kids keep getting bashed, it will get to a stage where we will not put their football careers in jeopardy by allowing them to continue in the competition,” Cutmore said.

Grogan, who played his football with Brisbane Brothers, Gold Coast Seagulls and English clubs, Halifax, Rochedale Hornets and Bradford, said Nerang’s match against Beenleigh was no different to many others, “except the referee probably looked after Beenleigh”.

“I’m not for foul play. There were a couple of cheap shots, and I’m sorry they happened,” Grogan said. “But all I said to my blokes was get up and get in their faces. We have respect for these kids because they are future geniuses. We couldn’t give them room to move.”

Former firebrand forward, John Payne revealed his ambition to coach at the top level. Payne, who was selected for Australia in 1975, and played five matches for Queensland, was Brisbane Souths’ coach in 1996, in the inaugural (Channel 9) Queensland Cup.

Payne had guided the Magpies into the finals, and hoped to coach the club again in 1997.

“But, I am (also) ambitious enough to think about coaching at Optus Cup level,” Payne said. “Most Queenslanders who go to Sydney succeed, and John Lang has proved that things are no different in the coaching arena, with his success at Cronulla.”

Payne and Lang were teammates at Brisbane Easts in the 1970s. Lang had a season as a player with Sydney Easts (1980), from where he represented New South Wales, Australia and Queensland – in the inaugural State of Origin match. Payne played in Sydney with Norths, Manly and Parramatta. 

Robert Grogan is the player on the left in the backrow in this photo taken from Brisbane Brothers’ 1987 team photo

Halifax’s Robert Grogan (no 6) tackles Hull’s Alan Tomlinson, as Keith Neller comes in to assist

John Lang receives a NSW best player award from Australian Rugby League president, Kevin Humphreys (left) and Tooth Group executive, Ian Mackley in 1980

John Payne calls for the ball from a Brisbane Easts’ teammate.

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