Where it all started…
On Australia Day 1969 a group of people gathered at the residence of Mr Mal Guse on his instigation to discuss forming a Junior Rugby League Club.
At this inaugural meeting in Colo Street, Arana Hills the group were confident that although the area was just developing, teams could be formed to teach the youth in the sport and league.
A steering committee was formed consisting of Mal Guse (President), Mary Flynn (Secret), Kev McKell (Treasurer). Brian and Judy Zeller, Margaret Starkey, Bob Fagg, Max Currell, Les Milliner and Mrs Bill Deihm were also present. A special general meeting was then called on 19 February 1969 at St William’s Hall, Grovely (now demolished) where the same executive plus Bob Fagg (Vice President) were elected. The committee consisted of Brian and Lyn McLean, Bill and Milly Whitehead, Trevor and Pat Woods, Allan and Dorrie Torrance and Barry and Margaret Wood. Thus Arana Hills Junior Rugby League Club was formed.
The first function was held at the joint backyards of Mal Guse and Kev McKell and as no houses existed behind, there was ample space for tents etc. A free burger was given to encourage attendance for the other fundraising activities and although it rained for most of the night, a small profit was made. To assist with equipment etc, West Seniors donated two sets of jerseys and West Old Boys Association donated $100.00 to start us off. West Mitchelton guided us with our first constitution and formation to comply with the Brisbane Rugby League Junior Division. Ken Harvison from Mitchelton who was also head groundsmen at Lang Park, assisted us with our first field at Hanran Street on which we had tenancy from the Brisbane City Council and art do.
The club was accepted by the Brisbane Junior Rugby League in March 1969 and fielded two minor league teams for the season. They were an Under 9 team coached by Trevor Woods and managed by Merv Flynn and an Under 8 team coached by Brian McLean and managed by Don Drabsch. Brian was also one of our referees along with Mal Guse. We formed a third social team of Under 7s and 8s coached by Ian Leslie as we had too many players and wanted all boys to have a game. (This practise continued on over the years end was one of the reasons we were one of the biggest junior clubs in Brisbane.) At this Stage we had two sets of jerseys, 40 registered players, three footballs, a working committee of 15 and we were on our way.
The next few seasons were hard work. Every weekend had us setting up the field with star pickets and rope barriers not forgetting our hessian enclosure. In these early years Kev McKell towed a borrowed trailer with a loaned chip heater pie oven with drinks, chips etc on board. The oval was lit, the tent was put up and drinks iced. Later the old caravan appeared through Kev’s contacts and after the bottom of the trailer had a hole burnt through.
The first Trophy night was held at the Arana Community Hall in Bargo Street (which is still there). Each team received a pendant, T-shirt and five basic trophies plus food and drinks to complete the season. The club now had $1,000 in the bank and about $300 in equipment and started to look at 1970.
The 1970 committee remained about the same with Don Winston moving to Secretary and Key Pearce as President, plus additional committee of Bob Barber (referee), Don and Denise Fairbrother, Ted and Bill Boycon, Owen Jones and Denis Timms as Grounds Chairman.
Eight teams were registered that year which increased costs and fundraising started immediately. Weekly raffles and lucky envelopes were run every Saturday at Keperra and Arana Plaza Shopping Carries, as well as each team selling a set of doubles. The Club gained raffle rights at the Sportsman Hotel, City View Hotel in Spring Hill, The Osborne Hotel, Valley and Brunswick Hotel, New Farm on Sunday Afternoons and were also given time later at the Brook Hotel Mitchelton. These venues raised ample funds with committees of this era working hard doing long hours to achieve this. The 1970 Trophy Day was organised by our Army contingent led by Fred Airs. It was a full day of events to accommodate approximately 400 people and was one of the best we ever had. Fred arranged marquees to be erected in case of bad weather (which we had and was one of the few wet Trophy Days over the years.) As this equipment was not ours a group of committee members elected to do night security playing social games like 500 and snap to fill in time, even with the water under their feet. A few stories originated from this weekend, unfortunately (or fortunately) I cannot remember them, others may.
Most of the committee backed up again in 1971. Mal Guse regained the President’s position, Bill Whitehead was the Assistant Secretary, with additional committee members: Bob Warner, Allan Ford and Laurie and Lyrical Wilson. Fifteen teams were registered for the 1971 season with the Under 11’ss (who were coached by Trevor Woods and managed by Ron Blunt) winning our first premiership. Most of these players, now young men, still visit Trevor and Pat (25 years later), which is quite a compliment to them both.
In 1971 we fought to obtain a lease from the Brisbane City Council and had negotiated finance with the National Bank for a clubroom. Unfortunately due to Council red tape and some associated club’s objections, the lease did not proceed. We continued to pursue the council and in 1972 the then Lord Mayor, Roy Harvey offered us a cow paddock the Council had just purchased if we were prepared to develop it at our own costs on a twenty-year lease. The lease was signed and we moved on and started work, at the same time purchasing the house adjoining from Jack ‘Pop’ Dawson, who would have sold the paddock to us before the Council if he had known. (That is our hard luck story).
In 1972, the Executive stood down after three years, but remained on the committee. The new Executive was Kev Pearce (President), Don Baker (Secretary), Denis Timms (Treasurer), Bob Fagg (Senior Vice President), Owen Jones (Assistant Secretary) with added committee members, Mike Ebsworth, Arthur Hayes, Kevin Huddy and David Sherriff.
We registered 15 teams again that season and won our first Minor League President Flag with Under 7JA (coached by Mal Guse and managed by Col Hughes.) The Arana Leagues Club Limited was formed and incorporated with the inaugural directors being: Denis Timms, Don Baker Ted Boycon, Dion Danalis, Mike Ebsworth, Mal Guse, Owen Jones, Kev McKell and Bob Warner. Many of these directors continued on as the Honour Boards show and some were Honoured with Life Membership because of their achievements for the club, not just the period of time they served, as with the Football Club.
The 1973 committee only changed slightly, Mal Guse became President and Bob Warner was made Senior Vice President. In this time, the National Australia Bank approved a $40,000 loan on the guarantee of 5 directors and Castlemaine. We started selling redeemable debentures, $10 buy a brick panels. A social committee was formed and also a ladies committed who mowed the new field as well as fundraising and canteen duties. To name just a few of the volunteers: Margaret Starkey, Margaret Timms, Ann Warner, Patricia McKell, Melda Sullivan, Pauline Atkins, Pam Sherriff, Kay Ebsworth, Betty Berndt, June Baker, Denise and Lyn Fairbrother and Lyndal Wilson. The Under 11’s (coached by John Sullivan and managed by Jim Crook) won our first Junior Preside hit Cup. 1973 was also the year of our first Miss Arana Hills won by Roberta Mann who went on to the runner up at the Miss Junior Brisbane Rugby League.
In 1974 some committee changes resulted in Bob Warner (President), Kev McKell (Senior Vice President), Arthur Hayes (Junior Vice President) and additional committee members Graham Berndt, Bob Gunn, John Atkins and Des Graham. The teams remained the same with our premiers, under 9JA’s (coached by David Sherriff and managed by Graham Berndt) and Under 12’s (coached by John Sullivan and managed by Jim Crook). The Under 12 team had all their points taken off them by the League halfway through the season and still came back to win the final. Quite an achievement. In this season the amenities block was completed, major earthworks carried out and the field was prepared and ready, until the council made the contractor replace his sewer lines right through the middle of the field which stopped games.
However the Trophy Day continued through and over the paddock. The major earthwork was done by Thiess Equipment which was donated by Sir Leslie and Geoff Thiess on arrangement by Denis Timms. This year also saw the start of stage one of the Leagues Club construction and a membership drive for numbers to obtain a liquor license was completed quickly. The license was issued without difficulties and the clubhouse plans were approved. Fundraising for this was again done by raffles, sale of debentures (all of which were repaid), buy-a-brick donations (the wall is now gone, however a honour board should be in the new clubrooms with the others listing all the donors), the balance was borrowed from the National Bank on the guarantees of the foundation directors and Castlemaine.
The 1975 season registered 16 Junior teams and an Under 23 side; also two touch teams of oldies formed the Arana Panthers and the Grovely Grunters. The Arana Drinking Team T-shirt emblem (now modified), designed by Garth Brown was the original touch emblem. Committee changes saw Kev Pearce (President), Kev McKell (Secretary, a position which he held until 1989), John Atkins (Treasurer), Mal Guse (Senior Vice President). The committee replacements were Des Pickstone, Don Jolly, Hugh Coogan, Reg McSweeney, Graham Brown, Bob Green and Alan Gordon. The dub referees consisted of Brian McLean, Bob Morgan, Terry Williamson, Bob Shaw, Kev Pearce, Bob Fagg, Mal Guse, Allan Gordon (the sideline favourite). They were later joined by Tim Mander, Gary Paton, Stuart Berndt and Phil Newer.
The Leagues Club opened for business in August without carpeted floor and a brewery strike. The value of the Club at this stage was $178,000 which cost us approximately $70,000 plus all the voluntary labour and time. Also the equipment donated by member tradesmen and the state sports subsidy which was $120,000, band loan $40,000 and the balance raised by the Club. The Leagues Club pool club was formed in 1975 and was the first sub club up and running under the control of Brian Wood (President), Dan McAllister, Basil Rosenthal and Les Miller. Flood lights were erected on the main field.
Touring teams were accepted this year for this first time with our Under 13’s being endorsed as the official club touring team. Other teams were able permitted to tour or accept visits. These tours created a lot of excellent friendships and experiences for boys and parents as well as the clubs involved. Some still visit each other to this day. Most tours were Friday to Sunday and billets with teams was rarely a problem, although Trevor and Pat Woods were called on several times for help which even went as far as providing BBQ breakfasts.
Arana Hills have excepted teams from Mackay, Bundaberg, Townsville, Cairns, Proserpine, Oakey, as well as three teams from New Zealand; Kaposi, Oahu an Papuan with whom we had an annual trophy to play for. Many interesting stories came out of these tours as well as good times. Some that come to mind are the time when the official got too hot next to the heater and stripped his shirt off (the heater was turned on not off), or found his bed on a rotary clothes line, or the other pair who rode a horse for a drink. Unfortunately tours have faded out of Arana and so too has the memory of the stories. These were our formative years and the club committees worked hard together and received a lot of pleasure and satisfaction in seeing the club progress to being one of the biggest and best junior bodies in Brisbane.
From 1976, the Football Club continued to flourish and the number of teams increased to the present day number of 26 Junior and Sub Distinct teams and while over the years we never won many Premierships we gave every boy and some girls the opportunity to play league.
Coaching Directors were employed in later years to improve their skills; three who come to mind are Tower Noyce, Trevor Keane and Nev Hunter who also formed the intensive training squad. More referees became necessary as the teams grew and Gary Paton was very effective in training our younger girls and boys in the art. The sports medicine group is another addition to the club to replace the St John’s Ambulance who were called on every weekend for help. This group is under the control of Linda Shaw who keeps them right up with it at all times. The Executives changed a little over the ensuring years as the Honour Board will show if you visit the Leagues Club.
The Leagues Club in 1976 opened a temporary beer garden at the Dawson Parade end, (this was later replaced by the Panther Den). In 1977 the Leagues Club was away with six staff, Sub Clubs of Pool, Darts, Fishing and Cricket plus fostering Juniors in League, Netball and Marching Girls. The new beer garden was erected in 1977/78 and the Panther Den was completed in 1978, which also incorporated the foyer and some unpopular dress rules. In line machines were the flavour at this time because Pokies did not came as expected. These generated a few dollars profit and our staff in 1978 increased to eight, which included Administration Officer Mrs Ruth Brown who stayed with us for many years to come. Further field development was earned out and the 25-year lease was signed with Pine Rivers Shire Council for Number 2 field and work to develop it stared immediately. In 1979 T-Ball started up under control of the Windsor Baseball but only lasted a couple of years due to lack of workers. Lights were erected and construction started on number 2 complex and we had our first of several art shows organised by Marj Coogan. These were a great success and proved we had a little couth.
During 1980-1981 we installed the air conditioning units and they were working until June 1996. The stage 3 gym, canteen and football office was completed, all debenture holders were paid out with interest and we started buying real estate namely houses next to us for future security. The Marching Girls had another successful State Championship on the main field and the Football Club car park was finally sealed. In 1983, the main bar was refurbished and our turnover passed 1 million dollars. The number 2 amenities block was completed at a cost of $30,000.
The Football Club registered 20 teams for the season during 1984-1989. The club saw many changes, a new generator was installed to counter strikes and blackouts, the beer garden was enclosed and lined to the main bar at a pest of $55,000. Divider doors were installed and furniture and carpet was refurbished. Denis Timms resigned as President after 17 years of service and Brian Wood was elected to start his term of also 11 years. Staff increased to 15, with directors on bear shifts. The turnaround was in staffed for members pick up and drop off. Our first courtesy bus (a Toyota Hiace) was introduced. This was subsequently donated to the Police Citizen Youth Club Arana Hills when we upgraded to the Coaster in 1993.
The new football complex was started and when completed in 1992, at a cost of approximately $250,000 the football club took over their new premises. This allowed the club to then rebuild the old football area to install Pokies and return the Panther Den to the Diners at an approximate cost of $130,000. In February 1992 Pokies were introduced and from that income the refurbishment was funded plus we made extra community donations to Grovely Ambulance, Keperra Hospital and the Blue Nurses (two cars). At this time membership exceeded 4000.
During 1993 negotiations started with the Brisbane City Council for a new club house using builders Paynter Dixon. In 1994, a change of direction was taken with new builders Concept Construction. They cleared the way with Council and came up with a new and better design, which you see today. In 1995, a golf buggy was introduced as a people mover, which was highly successful. This gave members a service to ease the inconvenience during the construction, particularly on wet or hot days and was also used as a car park security vehicle. Staff increases to 38 in 1993/94 and property assets now included 10 houses plus the vacant block next to the club.
The football and Leagues Club were started, built and annually improved by hard working and dedicated people. These people wanted to see us as one of the biggest and the best sporting complexes, not their own ego’s, but for their club and without each and everyone of them we would not have been in the position to consider the Construction of today’s club. The club honour boards show directors and executive for each year. Unfortunately no board is big enough to record the workers and supporters over the years.