Almanac Rugby League – The Year of The Seagulls

Queensland Cup Rugby League Grand Final 2011

Wynnum Manly Seagulls 16 d Tweed Heads Seagulls 10

by JJ Leahy

The Queensland Cup is one of two Rugby League competitions that sit at a level below the National Rugby League. The other is its New South Wales counterpart. It is contested by five clubs from  Brisbane and seven teams from regional areas.

The entry of the Brisbane Broncos into the then NSW Rugby League in the late ’80s followed by the the North Queensland Cowboys in the ’90s seriously damaged established League competitions. The once thriving Brisbane Rugby League saw the loss of commercial television coverage and the demise of three clubs with proud histories – Fortitude Valley ( the Diehards), Past Brothers (the Brethren), and Wests (the Panthers). North Queensland’s once famous and hotly contested inter-district Foley Shield fell away with many regions unable to field competitive sides.

The Queensland Cup was created in the mid-nineties to ensure a strong standard survived. It has been a reasonable success underpinned by a weekly Saturday afternoon coverage on a match each week by the good old ABC. Regional media organisations have also provided decent coverage. Channel Nine and News Limited, owner of the Brisbane Courier-Mail and a shareholder in the Brisbane Broncos, have not been as supportive despite brave efforts of a number of the Courier-Mail’s sports journalists.

NRL clubs the Broncos, Cowboys, Titans and Canberra Raiders have affiliations with some of the teams and use the Queensland Cup to give players on their roster who are not selected for the current week’s NRL team, the opportunity to play at a competitive level. The other players in the competition are the odd former NRL player still wanting to have a game, young players on their way to future NRL careers, and the majority who are semi-professional and have to get up on Monday morning and go to work.

We followed the enduring ritual of a Lang Park game ( no corporate ground names for this group of blokes) of meeting at the Caxton Hotel. The young Wynnum supporters were well ensconced and already raucous when we arrived before midday – Gormo, the old Brothers Prop, the old North Sydney Bear, the Cricketer, The Historian and Your Correspondent. Gormo is the sort of bloke who was born to wear an Akubra Hat. It sits on him as if it were a natural part of his anatomy, unlike Bob Katter’s Stetson style head covering which is more a global warming prevention device to reduce the venting of hot air. The Old Brothers Prop still laments the demise of his old club now fielding teams in the Second Division competition, but still found time for a quick flutter on some Victorian race meeting. The old North Sydney Bear has similar feelings about his club being shafted by the Sydney power brokers’ desire for a “National ” competition. The Cricketer was quite chirpy having got some quick runs to pull off an outright win the day before. He may be 61 years old but he still opens the batting in the the lower grades of the Queensland Cricket Association Sub Districts competition. The Historian was more subdued than normal as he soaked up the atmosphere of the pre-match crowd and listened intently to stories of players and games past. His passion for Rugby League is unbounded and he has written lovingly about ” the Greatest Game of All” as well as other topics.

The short walk to the ground was completed in time for kick-off. The Tweed Heads Seagulls were undefeated until the last round of fixtures. In the semi-final, they surprisingly lost to Wynnum who had only qualified in the last place for the finals series. The next week, they performed well and were favourites. Wynnum lost their first six matches of the season and were written off by many. However, they gradually improved as the season progressed.

Tweed started strongly with their powerful forward pack making ground with ease. An early try ensued. The Tweed captain, Brad Davis, was playing a dominant game with crisp passing and deep and accurate kicking. He opened up a gap with a dummy went through it untouched and sent his fullback on a long run to the line for a try under the posts. Someone remarked: “He is playing in a dinner suit”. It looked like Tweed were going to totally dominate Wynnum. The underdogs hung on and pulled off a try near half-time when the impressive young full-back, Jake Granville, showed great acceleration and awareness to follow up and a kick and score. The second half went back and forward. The defence of both teams was both tight and tough. Wynnum scored another try close to the posts off a kick that was allowed to bounce over the goal line. Tweed rallied and were held up over the line. Wynnum seemed the fitter and more determined and gradually played more of the game in their opponents half. A final try came off a line break followed by a quick play the ball and the fast and elusive centre Shea Moylan crossed out wide for the decisive try. Wynnum defended strongly until the final bell much to the delight of their supporters.

Wynnum Manly and Redcliffe both field sides in the Queensland Cup. They are bayside areas geographically separated from the sprawling surburbia of the city, and have retained a sense of local identity. It was a win that would have heartened the local community. Tweed Heads were traditionally a strong club in Northern Rivers Rugby League. The admission of a New South Wales based team to a Queensland competition was a wise decision that put aside the petty bickering that plagues many sporting organisations, and ,indeed, our current body politic. The fact that both teams were able to retain their historic “Seagulls” identity made this a worthy hard fought end to “The Year of The Seagulls”.


  1. Greg Mallory says

    very good report JJ, captured the afternoon perfectly

  2. JJL,

    Thanks for the report. I was interstate and missed the clash, so it’s good to get an insight. It sounds as if “the usual suspects” were at it – Davis with his clever kicking and astute passing, Maccan darting from dummy half, Moylan a real handful in the centres, and Granville always where he needs to be. Isn’t he a talent? Did you notice how, in attack, he plays at dummy-half, just like Billy Slater? Puts him in the right spot to back up a linebreak.

    How did Dalziel-Don go? I’ve been a fan of his for several years (even though I’m a Dolphins man) and just don’t understand why he’s not in the NRL.

    I wasn’t surprised by the outcome having seen Wynnum-Manly destroy Redcliffe the previous weekend. The Bayside Seagulls looked like a team on a mission.

    I see that the Dolphins’ Reggies took out the “A” grade – a good result for former Dolphins and Cowboys’ player Mark Shipway. The Dolphins were also Club Champions for 2011 – by a long way!

    Norths Devils took out the Colts. They’ve been a great club for developing young talent – Liam and I saw Slater and Cronk years ago as Colts for Norths.

  3. top report JJ. Went to that other game followed by a brief stop at the old Hacienda Tab in the Valley on the way home. No good in the Bairnsdale Cup but cleaned up on a dog in Sale. The old prop and Bear paid for their day. Smiles all round. Shouted Gormo a lemonade and let him drive home. Well done to Wynumm and I thought Granville was a deserved player of the match.

  4. Jake Granville is a very talented player. He has a very good pass from right to left and vice versa. It is flat, fast, and the right distance out in front at belly button level to make players run onto the ball. Old timers might say it reminds them of Barry Muir, but to me it looks like a Rugby Union half back as it comes straight of the ground. He does not show the ability to take a half step out of dummy half and straighten up both the defence and his forwards running onto the ball that Cameron Smith does so well.He also has acceleration and balance – the vital ingredients for a top player. He handled the high ball very well in defence.

    Like you, I thought Luke Dalziel Don would end up in the NRL when he was a younger player. He is a forward who is skilled with the ball and tackles well. Perhaps he does not have the size that seems so important in the modern game. If there were fewer interchanges, he is the sort of player who would be favoured.

    JJ Leahy

  5. Great report re- the afternoon. The thing about Granville is that he is one of those players who is extremely fit. He is at a level beyond every other player on the park. I would like to see if he could handle the physicality of the NRL. Only drama was the absence of the footy double! What happened to them on grand final day?

  6. Great afternoon. How fit is Granville? I think he is worth a run at the next level!

  7. Greg Mallory says

    Doublegate Bear!

    Bring back those old Brothers & Reddy double-sellers from the 60s, they knew how to sell a double
    “one on Reddy on the main game, one on Reddy!’

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