FLASHBACK: January 1992


Broncos’ chairman, Paul ‘Porky’ Morgan took a pot shot at Channel 9 boss, Kerry Packer over the station’s reluctance to televise all the Brisbane club’s games in the 1992 season.

Morgan, a successful stock broker, said he thought Packer would acknowledge that the only elite level rugby league club in Queensland (Gold Coast Seagulls were based at Tweed Heads), should have all its games on free-to-air. But the word from Channel 9 was that it would not extend its coverage, beyond commitments under its contract with the NSWRL, which meant the Broncos could only rely on sporadic coverage.

“It’s up to us (then) to convince Channel 9 that it is imperative, from a ratings point of view, to cover all our matches,” Morgan told me, in an interview, ahead of the ’92 season. “John Ribot (Broncos’ general manager) and I have made up our minds we must talk to the Channel 9 people in Sydney – even if we’ve got to see the man (Packer) himself.”

The Broncos had enjoyed blanket coverage of their matches in their first four seasons, with Channel 10 having broadcast rights. The Broncos were naturally concerned there would be a drop-off in sponsorship dollars, if the same coverage did not apply, with Channel 9 having the rights.

This added to a sense of disquiet within the Broncos’ ranks, that Sydney were always giving them a raw deal, and, of course, the ultimate outcome was Super League. Channel 9’s Sydney based Director of Sport in 1992 was South African born, Ian Frykberg.

The Broncos began pre-season training at Kelvin Grove, under trainer, Kelvin Giles, who was unhappy with the fitness levels of several players, one of them young centre, Steve Renouf, who was ordered to do extras on Saturday mornings. I covered the first run of the year, and I can tell you that Giles absolutely ‘gave it’ to the players. Even those who complained of the effects of asthma, were ordered to return to the training track after short breaks. At one stage Giles told Test winger, Willie Carne he was overweight and had a fat backside. Young blokes would probably need counselling now, if they were told the same thing.

Over at Davies Park, West End, former Broncos’ fullback, Shane Duffy was trying to re-ignite his football career, through South Magpies in the Brisbane competition. The Mount Isa product was rated a future international, in some quarters, after he played 10 first grade matches for the Broncos in 1988. But a combination of injuries and a lack of discipline, on and off the field, saw the Broncos punt him, with Paul Hauff becoming the club’s top fullback, after the retirement of Colin Scott.

Souths Magpies were coached by former Queensland forward, Chris Phelan in 1992. Another significant signing for the club was Sydney Wests’ utility back, Dale Hall, a former Colts representative player from Central Queensland.

Former Test prop, Dave Brown was appointed Norths’ Devils coach. Brown was captain-coach of Belmont Steelers in Western Australia from 1988 to 1990, and then took on a role as captain-coach of Hervey Bay Seagulls.

Logan City Scorpions, who had appointed Wayne Bretherton as coach, faced the prospect of being thrown out of the BRL, after failing to meet the January 1 deadline for the full payment of players. The club blamed the shortfall in payments on the failure of major sponsors, IMB Group, to cough up $50,000. Former Test prop, Sam Backo, who had played for Logan, was an executive of IMB Group at the time, and promised the players would get their entitlements.

I went to their offices in Logan City, and Backo unveiled plans for a $34 million redevelopment of Meakin Park, Kingston (the Scorpions’ home ground), with the aim of fielding a team in the ‘national’ competition by 2000.

“There are seven junior clubs and 119 teams affiliated with Logan City,” Sam told me. “The club already meets some of the criteria for entry into the Winfield Cup.”

In England, former Valleys and Brisbane Brothers’ coach, Ross Strudwick signed Jamaican born, former British heavyweight boxing champion, Gary Mason for Second Division London Crusaders, in the hope of turning him into a feared prop. London had previously signed British Olympic bobsleigh rep., Jason Wing. Strudwick was pulling out all stops, in the hope of having the Crusaders promoted to first division. He also had signed a Frenchman; a Moroccan; an American footballer, and hordes of Australians, including Bronco, John Plath; Ipswich’s Ray Ovens and Norths’ Steve Rosolen. Mason played only a handful of matches before giving the game away. He was killed in a road accident in London in 2011.

Broncos’ players train at Kelvin Grove in 1992

Sam Backo with plans for the redevelopment of Meakin Park

One response to “FLASHBACK: January 1992

  1. The loss of the Scorpions in 2002 is a sad indictment on the QRL’s pathetic administration or the game. Logan should have a team in the NRL by now with its population of 330k people and a production list of players that includes nine state of origin players.

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