Rugby League - History from 1919
meeting in Wills' Hotel on Tuesday April 15, 1919,
changed the course of Mackay's sporting history.
that night, Mackay footballers and supporters met,
like they had in past years, to decide whether they
could conduct a premiership competition in the
in 1919 there was a vital difference. This
time there were two important decisions to be made.
first was whether they would play football again and
the second was if so, what code would be played -
rugby union or the new rugby league game?
was a good roll up for the meeting, more than 70
enthusiasts, and they fully expected that they would
be there well into the night deciding on what code
in the end it did not take them very long at all.
meeting was called to order by Mr. E.W. Brookes and
in less than an hour the big decisions had been
was evident that the players were raring to go and
although there was a bit of discussion about which
code would be played, it was all on the same side of
call on all sides was "We want rugby
it was agreed to form the Mackay Rugby League and
the meeting then got busy on arranging the season.
Leonard, the former president of the Mackay Rugby
Union, was elected as the foundation president of
the Mackay Rugby League, with E.W. Brookes as
secretary and J.P. Hubner as assistant secretary.
the rugby union clubs had not reformed it was
decided that players would be invited to register
with the league and a committee was appointed to
arrange them in four teams.
that night 50 players paid the two shillings and
sixpence (25 cents) registration fee which had been
set, but the committee finally had to find players
for only two teams.
Railways club was formed and the North Side boys
formed their own team in that now historic meeting
at Glenella, when the chatter of those present
inspired the club name of Magpies.
other two teams formed were Rangers and All Blacks,
Railways had the honour of winning the inaugural
premiership and the first Mackay Rugby League trophy
- a cup donated by Mr. W.L. McCracken.
competition was run on the first past the post
system and Railways headed the table with 11 points,
with All Blacks and Rangers on eight points each and
Magpies scoring only one point - coming from a draw
is probable that the decision to play rugby league
was influenced by the fact that Townsville had
adopted the new code in 1914.
local footballers soon adapted to the new game and
by the end of the season, the league was confident
enough to invite Townsville down for two matches.
a great sporting tradition came into being at
Alexandra Park (now the showgrounds) on Wednesday,
June 17, 1919 when Mackay and Townsville met in a
rugby league match for the first time.
Mackay team was : fullback J. Brooks, three-quarters
W. Deveney, W. Meng, E. Brookes, B. Joseph;
five-eighth D. McEachran; halfback L. Fudge;
forwards P. Kynaston, C. Brighton, C. Milton, A.
Birse, J, English, S. Saunders. The referee was R.
won the game 16-13 and the Mackay side was unchanged
for the second encounter on Sunday, September 21.
Mackay league had won the support of the public and
a crowd of 2500 turned up to see Townsville win
special excursion train ran from Finch Hatton,
bringing hundreds of country enthusiasts in to see
were not disappointed with what they saw and
although Townsville may have had more experienced
players, some of the best football in the game came
from the home team.
winger B. Joseph scored a fine individual try,
swooping on a loose ball and outpacing the
Townsville backs and then side-stepping the fullback
to score under the posts.
in a brilliant passing movement, the ball went from
Hec Birse to Bill Meng to Eddie Brookes, back to
Meng again and finally on to Joseph.
early officials on the league did their job well and
some of them had a far reaching influence on the
of place goes to Jack O'Brien one of the great
personalities of rugby league.
was chairman of the league's management committee
for more than 30 years and president of Carltons for
even longer and was a life member of the Queensland
Brooks was a first class fullback and later became
one of Mackay's best referees. Cecil Milton played
in the first Carlton premiership team and
represented Mackay for many years.
from being a pioneer referee Bob Bradbury, also
managed the early representative teams.
Pearson was a keen player and worker for the game
and a great club man for Carltons, helping to
recruit many players for the strong Carltons years.
of the Magpie delegates was Les Shew and the Shew
name is still well to the fore in rugby league
through the services of Mick Shew as an official and
many years it seemed that that meeting in April 1919
had sounded the death knell of rugby union in
Mackay, but good sports can not be beaten and in the
years since 1976 rugby union has returned to Mackay
full of life and vigour.
Daily Mercury, Tuesday, November 23, 1999.