FLASHBACK: March 1992

MARCH 1992

Gold Coast Seagulls’ captain-coach, Wally Lewis admitted he didn’t know the rules when he turned down the chance to take a pre-season Challenge Cup quarter final against the Broncos, into extra time, at Wagga Wagga’s Eric Weissel Oval.

Lewis’s former club, the Broncos, won a gruelling match 14-12, with both sides scoring two tries, the difference coming from the boot of Broncos’ lock, Terry Matterson, who landed three goals, while Dale Shearer landed one for Seagulls. Lewis and Peter Gill were the Gold Coast’s try scorers, while Julian O’Neill and Alan Cann crossed for Brisbane, in front of an appreciative crowd of 7,960.

I covered the match for ‘The Courier-Mail’, and when I interviewed Lewis, asked why he hadn’t taken an easy penalty shot for goal seven minutes from the end, when Brisbane led 12-10. If the goal had been kicked, and the score-line remained 12-12 at fulltime, the match would have gone into extra time. Lewis thought a draw would not have been any good, because Brisbane had scored the first try, and that would be the determining factor in the case of a draw. That had been the case with previous knock-out competitions, but not this one. Instead of the shot at goal, Lewis took a quick tap, and although Seagulls went close to scoring, the Broncos’ defence held.

Wally was peeved at the line of questioning (I don’t blame him), and asked assistant coach, Graham Eadie if he was aware of the rule, and Eadie replied that he was.

“It’s my fault then. I didn’t know the rule,” Lewis said, rolling his eyes, and shaking his head.

There was plenty of feeling in the Wagga match, with a lot of sledging and plenty of full blooded hits.

Brisbane led 12-4 at halftime, with a 45-metre try by fullback, O’Neill the highlight of the first 40 minutes. Lewis put Gold Coast back into the match with one of his burrowing efforts from close to the line, after Darren Wolens and Paul Martin had been prominent in attack.

Broncos’ hooker, Kerrod Walters was man of the match. The win meant the Broncos would face Wests in a semi-final in Wellington, New Zealand. Wests beat Penrith 16-14 in the early match of the Wagga double header.

I covered the match sitting alongside local league writer, Les Muir, who I knew from his time with the Sydney Telegraph. The next day the Telegraph carried an interview with Gene Miles, who had succeeded Lewis as captain at the Broncos in 1990, when coach, Wayne Bennett made the huge call to strip Lewis of the role, even though he was Queensland and Australian skipper.

Miles, who had joined Wigan in England, said he and Lewis didn’t see eye to eye for quite some time, and relations were still cool.

“The captaincy issue probably triggered the break-up of our friendship,” Miles said. “We still talk, but nowhere near as much as we used to.”

Lewis told me that their relationship was ‘stung’ by the captaincy  call.

“It wasn’t a case of jealousy. I just thought Gene had done a complete U-turn,” Lewis said. “Gene commented to me after the decision, he would hate to be in Greg Dowling’s shoes. Greg was expected to get the captaincy at that stage and all the players were coming up to me to say they were sorry about what happened. Gene and I had spoken about the rep stuff and he said he wanted to play for Queensland and Australia again. Then I discovered he had accepted the captaincy and had decided to drop out of rep football.”

Allan Langer succeeded Miles as Broncos skipper.

In other news of the time, Queensland forward, Mike McLean signed with Gold Coast on a match payments deal, because he had taken up a job in hotel management on the Gold Coast. McLean, who came from a family of hoteliers in Bowen in North Queensland, played for Newcastle in 1991. While McLean was arriving at the Coast, halfback, Paul Shaw was leaving, with Seagulls granting him a release to play with Hull in England.

Seagulls also confirmed that former Sydney Roosters’ forward, Greg Bandiera, would be the football club’s new chief executive, while Seagulls’ director, and former player, Paul Mauro would head the football sub-committee. Bandiera, originally from North Queensland, had played with the Old Boys Club at Murwillumbah, and knew the Tweed/Gold Coast football landscape. I had played against Mauro in the early 1970s, when I was a journalist at the Tweed Daily News and contracted to Muwillumbah Brothers. I think Mauro was a banana farmer at the time.

Bandiera succeeded Larry Maloney, who was returning to Sydney. Maloney had boasted that the signing of Lewis as captain-coach would prove a turning point in the club’s history. Lewis had played in 1991, under the coaching of Mal Clift.

“I had more fun and made better contacts in one year, than my three years at the Broncos,” Lewis said, leading into the 1992 season. “The Gold Coast is a great place to live and I intend being here for many, many years.”

Footnote: Brisbane went on to beat Wests in the Tooheys’ Challenge semis, but lost the final to Illawarra at Dubbo.

Broncos’ winger, Michael Hancock races clear from Seagulls’ skipper, Wally Lewis and halfback, Jason Twist in Wagga in 1992

Graham Eadie playing for Manly

Gene Miles and legendary Queensland manager, Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner

Greg Bandiera in his Roosters’ days

2 responses to “FLASHBACK: March 1992

  1. “Lewis put Gold Coast back into the match with one of his burrowing efforts from close to the line”

    They were common too. A feature of the King was he never lacked confidence. No one did dummy half try scoring better. Glad it gets a mention here Steve.

  2. Greg’ Bandiera is my father and respect him more then any man. He’s the toughest man I know and growing up he never let me get away with anything which used to shit me but as I got older I realised why he was so hard on me . I respect my elders and have old school values.
    Apparently he could hold his own and never took a backward step weather it Was playing football or turfing someone out of the pub lol.
    I haven’t seen a lot of him play footy, so if anyone knows how I can get some old games he played in I’d be really great full.
    Thanks Jon Bandiera

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