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South Burnett’s best on show

by South Burnett Online

By South Burnett Online

The best of South Burnett rugby league – past and present – was on show at the Wondai Town Hall last Saturday night for the annual presentation of awards.

The dinner was a break in tradition by the South Burnett Rugby League. In recent years the season presentations have been handed out at the end of each age group grand final.

Special guests at the dinner included members of the South Burnett Team of the Century, selected in 2008 as part of rugby league’s centenary celebrations in Australia.

The veteran players joined coaches and invited guests on stage to present awards and team medals to players.

Special guests were former Titans star Nathan Friend and Queensland and Australian player Chris Close.

“Tonight we salute the past, celebrate the present and inspire the future,” compere Darren Schmidt said.

“It is also a time to remember the legends of the game and hear from them their memories and stories from the past.”

Cherbourg elder Aunty Lillian Gray spoke about her father, Frank Fisher, who was named in the Cherbourg, South Burnett, Wide Bay and Indigenous Teams of the Century.

Fisher was offered the opportunity to play in England in the 1930s but was refused permission by the State Government to leave the country because of his race.

“I had the honour of playing against one of the greatest players,” South Burnett Rugby League life member Percy Iszlaub said, describing Fisher. “We will never know how good he really was.”

A message was sent to the dinner by Brisbane Broncos chairman (and former South Burnett journalist) Dennis Watt that he hoped in the near future a medal for the Best Indigenous Player in the NRL would be awarded annually in honour of Fisher, who has been described by some people who saw him play as being the equal of Wally Lewis.

It’s been a big year for rugby league in the South Burnett, with two girls teams playing in the Sunshine Coast competition, an Under 18s boys team in the tough Toowoomba competition and Chinchilla playing in the Under 14s and Under 16s.

And it’s not over yet, with the grand finals in all grades to be played next Saturday at Wondai.

In the club championship, only five points separated the top four clubs, proving just how close the competitions have been.

The winner was the Nanango Stags, just one point ahead of Murgon.

In the senior competition, most tries were scored by Cherbourg’s Keith Gadd Jnr, and most goals kicked by Nanango’s Ashley Smallwood.

Special awards for their contribution to South Burnett rugby league were presented to CROW-FM sports commentator and former referee Bob Coleman and Nanango stalwart and former radio caller Barry Green.

>>> Read the full story, see all the photos and find out all the other award winners (Boys, Girls and Under 20s) at the South Burnett Online website.