Category: History

1988: The Broncos, The Seagulls & The Year of Change

By Lee Reily 

When Brisbanites recall 1988, two things come instantly to mind; Expo 88 and the debut season of the Brisbane Broncos.

This left the Brisbane Rugby League that was in the midst of its strongest era, having to take a back seat to the expanded Winfield Cup. The Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Giants joined the Broncos as the code looked to expand from a solely NSW/ACT competition.

The Wynnum Manly Seagulls felt the bite harder than most after the Broncos recruited BRL heavyweights Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Colin Scott and the “King” Wally Lewis into the inaugural squad.

Seagulls’ 1988 Reserve Grade coach Graham Smith recalls that season vividly and how much impact the Broncos had on the public.

“Everybody became a Broncos supporter overnight, whether or not they had ever followed rugby league.

“We were left virtually with a bunch of young kids to keep the club going, which they did.”

Two of the local kids which Smith is referring to from 1988 included Neil Tierney and John Plath.

Tierney would go on to be part of the Manly 1996 premiership side and play in all three games for the Maroons in 1997, while Plath would be part of the Broncos first four premierships (1992, 1993, 1997and 1998).

Wynnum Manly were to the BRL what Canterbury and Parramatta were to the Winfield Cup and BMD Kougari Oval was a Mecca for diehard league fans.

“When the stars were there, that joint (Kougari Oval) would be choc-a-block with probably five to six thousand people filling the place up.”

Following the exodus of the game’s most talented players, crowd figures dropped significantly and the Seagulls felt the financial impact of the BRL capitulation as hard as any other club.

“We were trying to keep star players with chook raffles, selling beer over the [bar] and gate receipts from home games.

“The club was going to be sold. They were in debt,” Smith recalls.

Sitting in his backyard, only a stone throw from the club that he and many others fought tirelessly to keep alive, Smith can’t help but reflect on the likes of Valleys, Brothers and Wests that fell by the wayside.

“We were fortunate to survive, I feel for the clubs that didn’t.”

This Sunday the 25th of March, the club hosts the Men of League – Seagulls Past Players Luncheon’ which will coincide with the Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Redcliffe Dolphins rivalry round game. The 1988 squad will feature as special guests for the afternoon. To book tickets, click here.

1958 Bobby Cook’s late run to divide bonus with Barry Muir- Throwback Thursday History Article

By Paul Comber

Wynnum Manly’s brilliant five-eighth Bobby Cook, earned two points yesterday to draw with Wests halfback Barry Muir In ‘The Courier Mail ₤50 bonus competition’ for Brisbane’s Best and Fairest Rugby League player of the season.  These two bright young players finished on 21 points and will share the bonus, ₤25 pound for each player. Continue reading “1958 Bobby Cook’s late run to divide bonus with Barry Muir- Throwback Thursday History Article”

1984 U18’s Premiership Winners – Throwback Thursday History Article

By Paul Comber

Wynnum-Manly under 18s, finished too strong for Brothers to take the Pacific Land rugby league trophy in the grand final at Lang Park on Saturday.  Two converted tries in the second half gave the Seagulls an easy 24-10 win.


Brothers opened the scoring in the first three minutes of the match, it came after a bomb.  This was followed by a penalty goal by Peter Sinclair to make the score 4-2. Seagulls’ first try was scored in the 25th minute after five-eighth Peter Sinclair cleverly switched play 10 metres out.  Sinclair passed the ball to Craig Adams who powered his way past four Brothers’ players to score.  The half-time score was 8-4 in favour of the Gulls.


Wynnum-Manly were the first to put points on the board in the second half. The points came after second rower Steve Taylor opened up Brothers’ defence 30 metres out. Taylor passed to Lance Belford who scored in the corner.


Brothers gave their supporters a glimmer of hope when they surged  hack with a try under the posts. They converted the try to make the score 12-10.  That try secured to be the signal for Seagulls to move into top gear. Seagulls scored two quick tries in the 62nd and 66th minutes.


The first was scored by Peter Sinclair from about 12 metres out and the second by fullback Darren Scott after good lead-up work by centre Mark Jones.


The win topped off a good season for Seagulls’ coach Graham Smith. Seagulls’ under 18’s won the minor premiership, the special pre-season competition as well as the Chairman’s Trophy and premiership.


It’s not over yet for the under 18’s. They will play a curtain raiser at Lang Park on Sunday. Wynnum-Manly will play the Police Academy at 10.30am.  The Police Academy side were win­ners of the Sub-district under 18 com­petition.


Members of the team are: Darren Whipps (fullback), Craig Gavin (winger), Greg Street and Mark Jones (centres), Lance Belford (winger), Peter Sinclair (five-eighth), Rory Ruhanan (halfback), Peter Jones (lock), Andrew Tessman and Steve Taylor (second row), Craig Adams (prop), Darren Petrie (hooker) and Greg Burke (prop).

Reserves: Noel Tierney, Jason Lloyd, Chad Giles, Joe Schweitzer, Steve Smith, Ivan Harshorn, Paul Lineburg, Shaun Winter, Ross Daley and Steve Haigh.


Graham Smith said he was more than happy with the under 18’s perfor­mance during the season.  He said he would be the under 18 coach again next season.  “There is a strong under 17 side coming up,” Graham said.  Those who played in the under 18s this year will not be eligible again next season,” he said.


Peter Sinclair (captain) and Peter Jones (vice-captain) spoke highly of the under 18 players.  They said the players did everything asked of them when called upon. “The team hated losing,” Peter Sinclair said. “Valleys were always a hard side because they played a similar style to us,” he said.  Both are looking forward to playing, with Wynnum-Manly teams next season.


The team comprises Wynnum-Manly. Redlands and Cannon Hill youngsters.” Peter Jones said. “Most of us are happy to remain in the district to boost Seagulls’ ranks,” he said.


Article compliments of The Wynnum Herald 1984

1975 Match Box Covers – Throwback Thursday History Article


By Paul Comber

Local Brisbane Rugby League in 1975 had one of their greatest promotions with the distribution of 20 million matchboxes across the state of Queensland.  The matchboxes showed the top BRL players of 1975, club insignias plus all the relevant details.

They were a product of Australian Match Manufacturing and were a unique project in Queensland for the first time a sport had been projected in mass distribution through matchbox cover designs.

This huge commercial project had an amusing origin.  Frank Train, a well-known Rugby League identity of that time was chopping down a tree on his property, when he remarked to Australian Match Manufacturing Chief Mr. John Christensen that the wood would be right for matchsticks.  Mr. Christensen replied that it was the wrong type of timber.  However the session was not to be wasted one, for Frank suggested that the matchboxes could be a help in boosting Rugby League – and John agreed.  John got in touch with BRL Management Committee Chairman, Mr. Arthur Sparks who thought it was a fine idea.

There were 42 matchboxes in the set represented by 8 Club Insignias, 32 Players (4 each club), the Kirks Cup and BRL emblems.  The five Wynnum Manly matches were Gary Seaton, Bob Clapham, Neil Kingston, Peter Inskip and the Club Insignia.

Article compliments of the Rugby League News 1975