Then and Now


With the 2021 season now over, all the talk seems to be about who will be the next NRL franchise, Redcliffe or the Brisbane Firehawks or the Brisbane jets?

From a historical point of view, the Firehawks and Ipswich have the most about which to boast. 

The Firehawks can trace their ancestry back to a club called Cooparoo, who joined the old Brisbane League in 1917. Cooparoo later combined with Wynnum to form the Brisbane Easts. 

Likewise, Ipswich has a long and proud rugby league history, going back to 1919 and during the 1920s; Ipswich and Toowoomba were really the heartland of the game in Queensland. Toowoomba is included in the Ipswich catchment and the game was established there in 1919.

Redcliffe, on the the other hand, have a shorter history since forming in 1947 and gaining admission into the old Brisbane first grade competition in 1960. 

The clubs first premiership was in 1965 and one of their players was a former Roma player called Arthur Beetson. Arthur moved to Sydney in 1966 and carved out a remarkable career, which included leading NSW and Australia for more than a decade. Then of course, he led Queensland in the very first State of Origin in 1980, while still playing in Sydney, for Parramatta. 

In 1981, Arthur “came home” to Queensland, settled back in the Redcliffe area, and was the Captain Coach of his old club, winning the 1981 Brisbane competition premiership. To win premierships with the same club 16 years apart was just another notable event in the football life of Arthur Beetson! That 1981 Redcliffe premiership side included some notable players, including Peter Leis, a dairy farmer who played almost his entire career with Redcliffe and whose son, Trent, played for the Cowboys in the early 2000’s. Another notable player was Steve Cherry, who is related to Dally Cherry-Evans, and, of course, Arthur Beetson, who finished his illustrious playing career after winning that 1981 premiership. 

Apart from leading Redcliffe to a premiership in 1981, Arthur was also appointed Queensland Coach, and one of the major decisions he made was to appoint a 21-year-old called Wally Lewis to the Queensland Captaincy. Not a bad choice! 

While all the talk in the media seems to be that Redcliffe has the advantage to be chosen as the 17th NRL team, no matter who wins, it will be a Queensland team and should add to the popularity of the game.

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