Explore the History of australian football

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Ken Grimley takes a fine grab.

Tom Gould

Terry Devery

Des Hughes

During the inter-war years, organised football in Queensland  was restricted to Brisbane and its environs,  but the post-world war two period saw the code gradually make advances northward and into other parts of the state. For example, the Townsville Australian National Football League was founded in 1954, and new competitions sprang up in Cairns in 1956 while the  game is known to have been being played on a semi-organised basis  in Mount Isa as early as 1957. In 1961 a new league centred in Ipswich, the Ipswich and West Moreton Australian  Football League was established, but does not appear to have lasted very long as two years later the Ipswich Australian Football Club transferred its allegiance to the Gold Coast Australian Football League which had also begun operations on  1961.

Throughout the 1950s competition in the QANFL  had been intense, with seven different clubs qualifying for the grand final, five of which enjoyed premiership success at least once. This trend was less evident early in the ensuing decade, however, with Mayne and Coorparoo tending to dominate. Between 1961 and 1964 the two clubs faced one another in every grand final, with Mayne triumphant in the first two seasons and Coorparoo in the others. The 1963 grand final was the most one-sided of the four, with Coorparoo thrashing the Tigers by 59 points, 18.23 (131) to 11.6 (72).

The second half of the  1960s saw various other clubs coming to the fore but both Coorparoo and Mayne remained forces to be reckoned with. Perhaps the most noteworthy feat was Morningside's in winning the 1965 premiership, the club's first. Opposed in the grand final by Mayne, the Panthers romped home by 73 points, 20.15 (135) to 9.8 (62). They had entered the QANFL in 1947 but did not manage to qualify for the finals for the first time until 1963, when they finished third, as they did once again the  following    year,    before  breaking through for a warmly anticipated debut flag in 1965.

The league, which dropped the word "National" from its title in 1964, boasted eight registered clubs in this era: Coorparoo, Mayne, Morningside, Wilston Grange, Kedron, Sandgate, Western Districts and Windsor- Zillmere. The last-named of these was formed in 1963 by means of a merger between the Windsor and Zillmere clubs. Windsor had historically been extremely strong, capturing a total of twelve senior grade premierships, one of which was shared, but financial difficulties meant that by the early 1960s it became a case of amalgamate or die.  Zillmere, by contrast, had never won a senior grade QANFL premiership, but was nevertheless financially viable. The merged club would claim a total of four flags before merging with Sandgate in 1991 to form North Brisbane.

Sandgate, which was based in the Brisbane suburb of Taigum, first played in the QANFL in 1933, but dropped out of the competition after just a single season and did not resume until 1944. Known interchangeably as the Hawks and Sea-Hawks they enjoyed their greatest successes in the 1950s and 1970s. The former decade yielded successive grand final triumphs in 1956 and 1957, whilst during the seventies the club contested no fewer than seven senior grade grand finals, winning four of them. The Sea-Hawks were seldom easy beats, but the 1960s proved a comparatively lean decade, with a losing grand final against Coorparoo in 1960 the closest they came to adding to their premiership haul.

The QANFL's 1963 premiers Coorparoo had endured a checkered history which included a brief two season merger with Yeronga in 1953 and 1954. In hindsight, the merger can be regarded as having been, in some respects, the making of the club, as it emerged from it stronger both financially and on the field of play. In 1957, the 'Roos as they were predictably known, reached their first grand final but went down to Sandgate by the agonising margin of just 2 points. Three years later they  obtained  revenge  when they clinched their first ever premiership with a runaway 16.24 (120) to  11.4 (70) grand final defeat of the same opposition. Coorparoo qualified for every grand final between 1960  and 1964, winning three and losing two. A further three successive grand final appearances followed between 1968 and 1970 but only the first of these, against Mayne, resulted in victory.

As has already been intimated, Mayne - known as the Tigers - vied with Coorparoo for supremacy for most of the 1960s. Formed in 1924 as a junior club, they acquired senior status the following year and went on to develop rapidly into a significant force, beating Windsor in consecutive grand finals in 1927-8. During the   1950s Mayne was comparatively strong, capturing another brace of flags, but it was in the 1960s that the Tigers really came into their own. During the course of the decade they qualified for all but two senior grade grand finals, emerging victorious in 1961- 2 and 1966-7, thus giving them an identical record during the period,  in terms of premierships won, to Coorparoo. Mayne was arguably the stronger all round club, however, as in the league's club championship, instituted in 1962 to reward the most successful club across all grades, the Tigers attained a total of three victories during the decade compared to Coorparoo's one.

As mentioned earlier, Morningside - the Panthers - reached the preliminary final for the first ever time in 1963, and would do so again the following year. One place behind them in '63 were Wilston Grange, the Gorillas, who had entered the league in 1950, annexing their only senior grade flag since in 1955 when they overcame Sandgate on grand final day  by  28  points,  15.10  (100) to 10.12 (72). They also reached the 1959 premiership decider, but lost  a nail-biter to Kedron by 2 points. The Gorillas went on to win their second premiership in 1969 when they overcame Coorparoo in the grand final and had added a third (in 1972) by the time they merged with Kedron to form Kedron- Grange in 1989.

The four clubs which failed  to contest the finals in 1963 were Sandgate and Windsor-Zillmere, both discussed above, and Kedron and Western Districts. Kedron had been members of the league since 1937, and had enjoyed  conspicuous success during the 1940s, contesting eight grand finals, and winning five.  Boasting two equally commonly-used nicknames, the Redlegs and the Lions, their most recent senior grade premiership had been procured in 1959 at the expense of Wilston Grange, but since then  their fortunes had dipped. The highlight of the 1963 season as far as Kedron was concerned was Tom Gould's resounding win in the Grogan Medal, the QANFL's  annual best and fairest player award. Gould polled 24 votes, 11 more than second-placed Stan Lavell of Morningside. Gould would capture a second Grogan Medal two years later.

Western Districts boasted the Bulldog emblem and the team wore distinctive maroon jumpers with two white vs. This was in the days before clubs in state competitions - and elsewhere - deemed it de rigeur to emulate one or other of the eighteen AFL clubs when selecting their colours.

Originally known as Taringa, the Bulldogs took their bows in the QANFL in 1930. In 1946 they were renamed Western Districts, and during the ensuing decade they began to emerge as a force. Between 1952 and 1954 they contested every grand  final, winning the last two. By the time of the club's merger with Sherwood to form Western Districts in 1991 Western Districts had won a total of four senior grade flags. Bulldogs  full forward Ray Hughson was the league's top goalkicker with 109 goals, the second time in succession and the fourth in total that he had achieved the honour. He ended up leading the  QA(N)FL's goalkicking charts on half a dozen occasions, and registering in excess of 100 in a season four times. When AFL Queensland named its  official Team of the Twentieth Century in 2003 Ray Hughson was selected in a forward pocket.

Queensland's senior grade interstate team undertook two forays in 1963, achieving victories over New South Wales by  17 points and the ACT by 11 points, both in Brisbane. Over the course  of the 1960s Queensland would gradually improve in the interstate arena and by the following decade the Maroons would prove strong enough to defeat the likes of Tasmania and the VFA for the first ever time.

The Townsville Australian Football League had been established in 1954 with three clubs: RAAF, South Townsville and Hermit Park. During the league’s inaugural season a series of informal matches was played, with the first official premiership, won by Hermit Park, being contested in 1955. By 1963 the league comprised four clubs, RAAF having withdrawn and Garbutt and Currajong having joined. In the 1963 grand final South Townsville defeated Garbutt comfortably, 16.16 (112) to 8.5 (53), a margin  of 59 points. South had previously won premierships in 1957 and 1959-60, while Garbutt was also a major force at this time, claiming half a dozen flags from eight grand final appearances between 1958 and 1966. The 1963 WJ Williams Medal for the best and  fairest player in the TAFL was won by Currajong’s Claude Morris.

Cairns was not far behind Townsville in establishing its own Australian football competition, with the inaugural Cairns Australian Football League premiership being contested in 1956. In 1963 the league boasted four clubs, with Souths-Balaclava downing reigning premier Babinda Magpies  11.11 (77) to 10.7 (67) in the grand final. Between 1961 and 1972 Souths- Balaclava took part in every premiership-deciding match, winning seven and losing five.

The premiership of the four team Gold Coast Australian Football League in 1963 went to Surfers Paradise, whose victory prevented Southport from winning  a hat-trick of grand finals.

A Review of the 1963 Queensland Football Season