Almanac Rugby League: Early season dreams become post-season nightmares






It is that time of the year when I should be preparing for our traditional Sydney GF tour. Of course COVID has stopped that so we (myself, Tiny and Tommy) have put a not-so-far-south-west tour in its place. Friday in Stanthorpe, Saturday in Toowoomba (Epsom Day Races), Sunday in Dalby and maybe Chinchilla before home on Monday. We may even pay homage to Oakey – home of the Bears and JTH as we meander across the region assisting rural communities (read hotels) through this troubled time. However it was thinking about this that led me to see great irony in last Thursday night’s Broncos v Cowboys game.


If I had have told you in March that I was going to be at Lang Park in a box on the last Thursday in September you would have turned green with envy. As a Queenslander, if I had then told you it was the two clubs playing who played what I consider to be the greatest NRL GF of all time in 2015, and that they would be playing each other in that match in September, Queensland hearts would have beat even faster knowing that one of our teams was heading to the big dance. These were the 2015 Premiers v Runners up. Both looked ready for a period of dominance in 2015. Strong teams, rosters, powerful front office, money, top coaches, top recruitment and the pride of Queensland! I would have even dusted my famous BronCows guernsey off for this event back in March.


But what a disaster it has been. This was no high performance match played by the top teams. This was a clash that would determine whether the all-powerful Broncos would finish with the spoon and the Cowboys were consigned to the 14th place no man’s land regardless of the result. It was not hard to look far for the simplest of the Broncos’ problems – 624 points scored against them with a differential of -356. In any league that is an embarrassment, but for the flagship of the NRL this was a disaster of titanic proportions. Sadly as well, there was no simple fault to identify except the inability to tackle. Even a poor defensive system will be saved by blokes who can shorten up opposition players a la Gillmeister. He may have played in well beaten sides from time to time but there would have been a player somewhere who still has a little tickle in his rib cage on a cold morning from one of those days.


But back to the spoon final for the Broncos and the exit for the ageing Boyd. It started ok (the food and drink in the box was great- thank you, FOGS) with some early tries but the injury to Stagg just added another excuse to the biggest box office flop since The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen. As entertainment the game was ok and had a lot of end to end play, and a 36 -16 score line most probably flattered both sides given the amount of Bunker use and mistakes at critical moments when points were on offer. But neither side showed any real glimmer of what may be in store down the line. Hope, as I have always been told, is not a strategy! With favourite son Kevvie now handed the reigns, the process starts to rebuild- but it must be quick. Broncos’ coaches are lucky to survive one non top-eight finish, and the old boys having got their way will be praying the much-loved Ipswich champion can weave solid defence into the creative magic he was able to produce as a club legend.


The Cowboys, on the other hand, face a different problem. They seem to be a ‘thereabouts’ team. They certainly have some great young talent and, with a new coach, must be hoping for improvement. They played in two of the last five Grand Finals but that is now light years away. Thurston retiring was always going to be a problem but the proportion has been well underestimated. Anyway – thank god for the Titans.


So as I ready to go on tour, rugby league and racing will be hot topics as per normal, and the irony of this year is highlighted no better than in that clash last Thursday night. With good luck I will hopefully be preparing for the Sydney Grand Final this time next year!


To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over pleaseconsider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



  1. MOH

    How was the punt?

    And how was Oakey?

    There’s a photo of their 1975 premiership side doing the rounds at the moment on social media. I’ll dig it out. Features some greats: Dicky Rose, Peter Connell, Mal Muirhead.


    PS Strange season for clubs from Up NOrth.

  2. Matt O'Hanlon says

    We had a top tour rounded out by the magnificent win by the great Dean Holland in the last at Murtoa on The Rich Fisher where we collected the tri as well. He lalso saluted early on a $20 pop. That made it a no cost profit weekend. Started with a pie at Aratula Friday morning and finished with a burger at the Marburg trots Monday arvo. We didn’t make it to Oakey but covered more ground than Veandercross in the 1992 Caufield Cup. Back at work today!
    ps the bloke who wrote the article on Murtoa caused a smile on my face

  3. Greg Mallory says

    Great story, great trip,

Leave a Comment