FLASHBACK: June 1972

JUNE 1972

Queensland’s three-year plan to wrest rugby league supremacy from New South Wales was in tatters after the Blues thrashed the Maroons 29-5 in the first match of the 1972 inter-state series, at Brisbane’s Lang Park.

The 30,000 plus crowd was left bitterly disappointed that Queensland could manage only one try, while conceding seven, despite New South Wales playing 25 minutes with 12 men, after second rower, John Elford was sent off for a vicious high shot on Maroons’ glamour boy, Richie Twist.

Future ‘Immortal’, Bobby Fulton scored three tries for the Blues, eluding tackle after tackle with brilliant bursts of speed.

Elford was sent from the field by referee, Henry Albert and the Smithtown product did not dispute the decision. In fact, he effectively kept walking after delivering the stiff-arm tackle, which left Twist unconscious on the ground. Twist was carried off on a stretcher, with Peter Hall the replacement. Up until this point, Elford was the best tackler on the field, punishing Queensland with driving, forceful tackles.

Elford’s co-second rower, Bob McCarthy was the most dangerous attacking forward, given good support by Gary Sullivan. Halfback, Tom Raudonikis gave excellent service to his backs, with young centre, Geoff Starling looking a star in the making. The Blues’ giant props, Bill Hamilton and Arthur Beetson were magnificent in the rucks.

Queensland’s only try was a gem. Fullback, Gary Dobrich ran across the field and flick passed to five eighth, Graham Tucker, who raced 75 metres to score between the posts. The Maroons’ best was lock and captain, Col Weiss.

The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon said the Blues proved that you could be in the best physical condition, but you can’t win without class and speed. Reardon said Queensland appeared to be further behind the Blues than two years earlier, when the QRL announced a well funded program to bring the State up to parity with the Blues, by 1973.

Money was invested in a live-in sports excellence camp at Lang Patk in 1971; and then in 1972 Queensland, coached by Bob Bax, went on a three match tour of New Zealand, followed by a match against Monaro Division in New South Wales, with the Maroons winning all four games, before going into camp.

Reardon said the game had never been faster or more intense than it weas in Sydney in 1972, with many of the best Queenslanders lured there, along with stars from England and New Zealand. (These were the days before State of Origin).

QRL boss, Senator Ron McAuliffe admitted it was ‘back to the drawing board’.

The curtain raisers to the first inter-stare game saw Iona College (Brisbane) defeat St Edmunds from Ipswich 17-2, while the Brisbane under-21 side defeated Gold Coast 7-5.

I drove from Murwillumbah to see the match, in particular to cheer on former Murwillumbah Brothers’ boys, Gary Dobrich and Ray McCarron. Dobrich was a Brothers’ product, who I idolised in the 1960s, while Ray, a Tugun boy, had been my captain-coach in 1971. I thought big Macca was one of the most penetrative forwards on the field.

I’m ashamed to say, I left a Tweed Shire Council meeting early, so I could get to Brisbane in time for the match. I was covering the meeting for the Tweed Daily News, and almost got the sack when the paper’s General Manager, Wally Baird was told by shire chairman, Clarrie Hall I had deserted my post.

Bob Fulton
Bob McCarthy

One response to “FLASHBACK: June 1972

  1. Steve,
    Many years later, long after he had finished in Sydney,
    I played with John Elford when was back caption-coaching Smithtown in group 2. I was glad he was on my side. A very hard player.

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