The story of Mud & Blood
Our origins begin when in 1939 the Ithaca Creek State High School, Rugby League teams won their Premierships in all three grades, and a special dance was held in their honour. It was a handful of these players who went on to become our orignal players for Wests Ithaca Rugby League Football Club, as we were first known.
During 1941 the schools Rugby League teams were again successful. One team managed to set a new world record by scoring 312 - 0 during the season.
With such talent around it was not surprising that in March 1942 a note was given to school boy, John Broad, by school teacher, Mr. Eric Wenck to be delivered to Neville Blair requesting him to contact former Ithaca Creek State School footballers who won the Under 6 stone Premiership for the school in 1939. It was hoped these boys would form a team as they would have been the appropriate age. Mr. Wenck was at that time and for years to come secretary of the Queensland State Schools Rugby League.
A meeting was called on the third Monday night in March in the old hall below the parade ground at the school. This meeting was attended by Mr. Eric Kiefer (President Wests Seniors) Mr. Col Colthorpe (Secretary Wests Seniors) and Mr. Tom Purtell (Treasurer Wests Seniors)
In the year 1942 Under 16 was the only Junior grade being played, with third grade (two divisions - one division for all teams under the Senior clubs and a second division for all other clubs) the next available. Owing to a misunderstanding it was thought that all players had to be under 16 years of age to qualify for the sixteen grade. So a team was formed and entered in the third grade second division. It was not surprising that this team of sixteen years olds did not win a game but they competed in every game and finished the season. had these boys competed in their true age group (under 16) our first year in competetion may have ended differently.
These boys made history in the club by being our first team. The players are, by name; Craig Basten, Eddie Munro, Noel Corless, Jim Watson, Ray Rollinson, Ted Crane, Brian Walker, Lour Morris, Brian Wright, Jack Pearce, Neville Blair, Vernon Spalding, Max Ricketts and Sid Coohlan.
The referee who officiated at our very first fixture was none other than referee Digger Chambers. Many old timers will recall Digger and agree that he was possibly the best referee of all times. He was a coach at Ithaca Creek School and Wests Ithaca Juniors. One of the many famous matches he refereed in, was the Test Match in 1946 between Great Britain and Australia.
Officials elected at that first meeting were Eric Wenck (President), Craig Baster (Secretary), Neville Blair (Treasurer). The team Captain elected was Ronald Rollinson (former Captain of Petrie Terrace 1939 six stone team). No coach was available and the team played the whole season without a coach, with the duties being done by the Captain.
During the war years the players did not have football boots because of the leather shortages. When games were played at Lang Park everyone ran much faster because the field was full of prickles.
In 1943 the second third grade competition was eliminated and Under 20 grade introduced. Once again a team was formed and entered in this grade and ran on the same lines as 1942, until half way through the season, somebody bought Andy (Fatty) Cunnington to the training one night and from thereon a coach became available. At the first game the coach was in attendance, he bought along his father-in-law (Mr. Harry Warmington) and it was only a matter of time before he became manager of the team. Some of the teams the side competed against were; West Kelvin Grove, Norths Albion, Norths Clayfield, Valley, Holy Trinity and Police Cadets.
The team trained at Gilbert Park without lights or field markings. This park was known as Gilbert's Paddock prior to 1925 - after the owner of the land in the area. After 1925 the land was named Gilbert Park.
In 1944 Harry Warmington became president and whilst the junior League formed more grades, we do not have any records of teams in those grade. The majority of the original players from 1942 played Under 20's until the 1946 season and then went over to Wests Seniors.
A shed had been erected at Gilbert Park by this stage (on the same site the new club house was later built). It had been known that some boys, on cold winters nights, would take the palings off the fence over the road and build a bon-fire infront of the shed to keep warm.
It was 1945 when Eric Wenck (he was then still teaching at Ithaca Creek State School and President of Wests Juniors) coached the schools five stone Rugby League team. This team broke the world record (bettering the schools 1941 record) by scoring 403 points for and nil against during that season. Many players from that team were playing for Wests Ithaca including, Colin Todd and Mick Milliner.
The first school boy to win the prestigious 'Courier Mail Bonus' (a competition open to any Rugby League player) was Charlie Gordan who played in the Ithaca Creek School Boys side at the Gabba in 1945. This was indeed an honour for one so young. He went on to play for Wests Ithaca Juniors.
During 1946 Eric Wenck was again made President of the club with Neville Blair as Secretary. Advertising for new players was done by way of a 'slide projection' feature shown before the start of the movie at the local picture theatres, namely, Ashgrove, Plaza and State. The club was quite well organised by now and minutes were recorded at their first Annual General Meeting. It was at this meeting that the need for raising of club funds was discussed. It was noted......"....Nev Blair suggested a raffle, which was decided upon. First prize - one ham donated by Mr.Turner. Second prize - half a dozen bottles of cordial donated by Mr. Hanlon. Third prize - one box of sweets donated by the club. Tickets 3' each or 5 for 1/-."
It was decided to field four teams for the season namely. U/20, U/18, U/17 and U/15 years. Coaches available were Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Wenck and Mr. Fahey.
Up until this time Gilbert Park was without lights for training. Mr. Ricketts (father of Lloyd, Ron and Max) donated two light poles, lights and also installed them. These were the first lights used on the park and in thanking them its noted....."....the Secretary was instructed to write and thank them for the very generous gesture....". It was also decided to appoint them as Honorary Vice Presidents of the club.
It was of great importance to our club when in 1946, six players from Ithaca Creek School's Rugby League team represented Queensland. As there were still no grades until U/15, most had to wait a few years before they were old enough to play in that grade.
Team spirit was at an all-time high when in 1948, coached by Jimmy Black, te U/15 team went on to complete the season as "Grand Premiers and Winners of the Presidents Cup". It was from this team a young player of great ability emerged, Alex Watson, who went on to represent Queensland in 1953 and played his first match for Australia at the age of 19 also in 1953.
In 1951 the club had its first U/20 grade premiership win. Cups won by the members of the club were displayed in local shops as an inducement to intending players. The U/20 team continued to run dances throughout the year in aid of the club and in the hope of one day building a club house.
It was decided in 1953 that several players from the previous season be given trophies donated by the club. These trophies were for the best forward and back in each grade. Wests Seniors body were approached regarding coaches for our junior teams.
The 1954 committee decided that a working party be organised among the players to line and clear the playing area or Gilbert Park, goal posts were also erected.
At this stage in our history it must be noted that there were some very hard working officials battling through the tough post-war years for the club. To name a few; Henry Warmington, 'Fatty' Cunnington, Jim Black, Roy Burdett Snr. and Nev Blair.
During 1955 'Chocolate Wheels' became a popular way to raise funds for the club. The referees association was approached on the matter of trial matches for the juniors.
In 1956 the name was changed to Western Suburbs Juniors and under the guidance of Alby Wasson, Jack Visor, Bob Hird, Keith Burdett and a great band of workers, the club grew.
During 1959 the club fielded 4 teams in the U/14, U/15, U/17 and U/18 grades with a total of 130 players registered. All teams played a very high standard of football with fifteen of our players chosen for representative honours. The club was saddened by the death of C Ongheen (Jnr) who passed away from injuries sustained while playing for the club.
The chocolate wheel was by now a regular Saturday morning event at the Normanby Hotel.
1960 and the club fielded six teams U/14, U/15, U/16, U/17, U/18 and U/20 year grades with a total of 175 players. Five out of six teams fielded finals and preliminary finals which was a credit to players and coaches. Col Weir (ex-Wests Junior) representedAustralia.
In 1961 football doubles were introduce as a means of fundraising. Jubilee Park was now in use by the club for training purposes.
1962, and a record number of teams yet again - seven in all, with a total 235 registrations. R.Twist and R.Toohey were selected for Queensland, 9 stone team, along with 21 players in all, selected for in representative teams this year. The possibilities of the club house were seriously looked at and discussions on the positioning of the new dressing sheds also went on.
By 1964 the club was fielding 7 teams (U/12's - U/18's) with a record number of players registered. The U/12's took honors this year in winning the Grand Final, coached by Mick Milliner and managed by Daryl Laine. The trophy for the Best Club Man went to Trevor Ingham with Rob Thompson taking out Best Club player. Rob Thompson went on to represent Australia in 1970.
1965 and our club numbers were still increasing so it was with great security the club gained a 14 year lease of Gilbert Park. Richie Twist won Best Player and T.Raply won Best Club Member.
In 1966 we fielded a record 9 teams and a continuing number of record registrations. The building of the club house, in conjunction with Western Suburbs Old Boys Association, had begun. Richie Twist again won Best Club Player and I.Peverill, Best Club Member.
July 1st 1967 saw the opening of the new club house. The committee invited guests to the official opening ceremony which was performed by Alderman Clem Jones, Lord Mayor of Brisbane.
1969 was the most outstanding year of the club to date, as club memberships and team registrations reached new highs. A total of 17 teams were registered, 11 in the junior and 6 in the minor. The outstanding achievement for the year was by the U/13A's team who won the Grand Final. However, there was no greater thrill than when it was realised that Wests Seniors, in their Semi-finals, fielded 6 ex-junior players.
Tremendous advancements once again during 1970 with a total of 19 teams. Although 5 teams were fielded in Grand Finals and a further 2 in Semi-finals, big honours eluded us. However U/18A's made history by recording the first ever Presidents Cup win for West Juniors.
During the early seventies the club went from strength to strength. An unequalled 22 teams were fielded in 1972. Wayne Stewart, another ex-Wests junior, achieved recognition by representing Australia this season.
1975 was a successful season both on and off the field, with 17 teams registered. Eight teams contested the Presidents Cup - we were successful in four. The end of the season found us with all 11 teams to contest Semi-finals. When the cheering had died away we found four teams had won their Grand Finals. The U/12A's showed the way by winning the Normanby Shield for being the top performance team for the club during 1975. Undefeated all season, taking out the Presidents Cup, Minor Premiership and the Grand Final. Even by todays standards, remaining undefeated for the entire season is an outstanding achievement.
In 1976 for the first time, we started the season with a special parade through the Ashgrove Shopping Centre. With all teams participating, it proved to be a popular attraction. Adding to the colour and excitement of the day were the Arana Marching Girls, Scouts and the whole 'she-bang' was led by a young drum corps. The U/18a was successful in the Presidents Cup and the U/16B team captured the big one. Of the 12 teams fielded, it was a tremendous accomplishment to have 7 of these teams playing Junior A Special Division. Mr. Ted Abel was given special appreciation as Director of Coaches.
1978 and 16 teams were fielded - 12 Junior Division and 4 in Minor League. Competition was fierce and Wests were equal to the task and some outstanding performances were realised. Our U/18's won the Presidents Cup and then completed our first ever double in this grade by winning the covered Grand Final. There were, also, two young boys chosen to go on tour in New Zealand with the Brisbane U/10's, they were Tim Jones and Derek Mowles. Tim Jones made four Brisbane teams that year and was awarded best forward for the tour.
In 1979 from 14 registered teams (12 Junior Division and 4 in Minor League) 6 teams contested Semi-finals. With an outstanding display of disciplined football the U/17's, coached by Mr. Magic (Ted Abel) won the Junior A Grand Final after 9 consecutive years of coaching at the club, he pulled 7 premiership wins, quite a formidable record.
The 1980's showed disturbing signs of wavering registration numbers as it was realised the area was not producing the number of youngsters it once did.
In 1980 13 teams were fielded, with Premiership wins, the U/15's and U/18's. Ted Abel's team was once again successful. In a small write up, was a message from a coach to his team "It isn't winning I looked for, it's whether you did better each game, than before. To coach 17 boys who did their best is the greatest record a coach can possess. Seventeen players I had on my team who gave me their attention even when I screamed. So as coach I'd like to say how proud I am of you all today. Thankyou". D. Laine.
1981 and 11 teams were fielded - 3 in Junior A Division. The U/8's and U/15's won their Premierships. The Senior body now controlled the U/18's.
1982 fielded 10 teams, three of which played in Presidents Flag or equivalent games for three wins. Five teams reached the finals, three played in Grand Finals for two victories.
1983 once again the club fielded 10 teams with the U/7's winning a Presidents Flag. Of the 10 teams one were Minor Premiers and another made the Semi's. Best club player - B.O'Rouke, Most Promising Player - S.Galbrath and Best Defensive Player - P.Taylor.
In 1984 10 teams played with the U/14's in the grand Final and the U/11's in the Presidents Flag. Our U/17's participated in the pre-season Fred Harold Flag competition of the combined Junior clubs. Playing under the Seniors Banner and proved very strong. Best Player - S.Gilbrath.
1985 - 8 teams were fielded with U/14's reaching the Semi-finals and U/13's the preliminary final. The combined U/17 side took out the pre-season Fred Harold Flag. Major Trophy winners were: Best Club Player - N.Watkins, Most Promising Player - S.Condon, Best Defensive Player - T.Jones.
The start of the 1986 season saw division in the Senior grades which were called Colt's U/19's. The under 18 division was dropped and the U/17 Junior players entered into this new grade. In this the first year of 'Colts' the western Suburbs Colts were successful in winning the Grand Final at Lang Park - the first ever Colts Premiership. What made this team so special to West's Juniors, was that 13 of the 18 players came through our ranks as Wests Juniors. The players were; P.Taylor, J.Vizer, P.Childs, S.Tye, S.Triechel. J.Burow, G.Strutton, S.Condon, N.Watkins, T.Jones, R.Cummings, B.Taylor, and B.Martin.
1987 and nine teams were fielded. the U/17's, U/12's and U/11's all won their Grand Finals, making it a victorious end to to the season. The U/14's also contested a Semi-final. Major Trophy winners were; Best Club Player - W.Foster, Most Promising Player - W.Thompson, Best and Fairest - V. O'Rouke.
1988 was indeed a hard felt year for Western Suburbs Juniors, only managing to field four teams. The U/15's played in both the Grand Final and the Presidents Flag in the junior A competition but, unfortunately were not able to win either. Major Trophy winners; Best Club Player - J.Smith, Most Promising Player - T. Harrower, Best and Fairest - D.Sellwood.
With poor and failing registration numbers, 1988 saw the lease of Gilbert Park and the club house taken on by the new 'Brisbane Team' in the NSWRL the 'Brisbane Broncos' would be training with the teams, as Gilbert Park was now also their home ground.
1990 produced six teams - an improvement in teams and number of players. Congratulations with the U/17 Junior A team for wining the Presidents Cup and reaching the Grand Final. Best Club Player - J.Brady, Best and Fairest - D.Malone. special congratulations to Chris Hipwood on being named the BJRL Best U/17 player in the entire competition.
In 1991 six teams were fielded U/7's - U/12's, U/14's and U/17's