As the 2015 Toowoomba Rugby League season kicked off on March 14th, the hierarchy of local club & reigning TRL A Grade premiers the Wattles Warriors were focused on retaining their hard earned title and recognising a mighty club milestone, their 50th anniversary.
After drawing a bye in the first round of the premiership, Wattles took to their home turf, Platz Oval, on Sunday in the Grand Final replay clash with the Gatton Hawks, which this time saw the Hawks take the honours.
Wattles President and ‘A’ Grade team member Aaron Scheid is very upbeat about club plans that will form part of the 50th year celebrations, “we are having celebrations at each of our 2015 season home games, focussing on Wattles’ past decades”.
The format that is sure to draw so many Wattles’ past heroes back to the home turf at the Clifton Recreation Grounds began on Sunday with Wattles heroes from the 1960’s special guests.
“Of course there will be many other events to highlight Wattles amazing history and a 97 year presence of rugby league in this part of the world,” Scheid said.
The Wattles Rugby League Football Club had its beginnings back in 1966 when the Clifton and Allora Rugby League Clubs combined to form what was then known as Allora/Clifton, the Wattles name attached in 1969 after a public competition for a title for the club.
The Allora-Clifton club’s first matches were pre-season trials against Warwick club Collegians on Sunday March 6th, 1966. The club’s first President was former Allora footballer, Wattles Patron & Life Member Brian Smith. Brian, along with inaugural Senior Vice-President Jack Enright and James Gleeson were largely responsible for the formation of the Allora-Clifton club.
Allora-Clifton ran on in their first official club fixture in the Warwick District Rugby League competition on March 27th, 1966 against Millmerran at Allora, winning the match in a positive start to the season.
Allora-Clifton only played one season, 1966, in the Warwick District competition, being admitted to the Toowoomba Rugby League in 1967. In that first year in the T.R.L. the Under 16 side made the Grand Final but were defeated. Wattles first premiership was won by an Under 16 team though, defeating All Whites 17 – 7 in the 1968 Grand Final.
The 1968 season also saw the Allora-Clifton club gain their first State representative when Les Lane was selected for Queensland.
Wattles won their first A Grade premiership in 1970, defeating Valleys by 20–17. The team was Mick Gleeson, Denis Fogarty, Bevan Crothers, John Cowley, Dan Ryan, Brian Keleher, Malcolm Duff, Lew Platz, Greg Platz, Brian Meara, Jim Phelan, Terry Fogarty, Laurie Lipp, Micheal Bowe, Rob Rowlings, Sid Telford, Dennis Ryan, Joe Gleeson and Trevor Gleeson.
Wattles also won Toowoomba Rugby League premierships in 1997 & 2014 (A Grade), 1976 & 1992 (2nd Grade), 1992 (3rd Grade), 1998 (Under 19), 1976, 1977, 1991 (Under 18) and 1968, 1974, 1975, 1977 (Under 16).
The club’s most prestigious player award is the Clifton Courier Shield for the club’s “Player of the Year”. Many great players’ names adorn this trophy, including international forward Greg Platz, future A.R.L./N.R.L. players Robbie Tew and Tony Duggan, three time winner Sam Achilles and Cameron Hamblin, a five time winner of the “Player of the Year” award.
The club boasts four internationals in the Platz brothers Greg & Lew, Rohan Hancock and former champion Brisbane Broncos front-rower Shane Webcke. Wattles have also had numerous players rise from their ranks to play with A.R.L./N.R.L. clubs in the National competition, and the British Super League including: Shane Webcke, Lew Platz, Steve Gibson, Kirk Reynoldson, Phil Morwood, Tony Duggan, Travis Burns, Robbie Tew, Jordan Atkins, Grant Rix, & Mark Meskell.
The Allora area, deep in Wattles jurisdiction also produced leagues Laws brothers Fred & Col, Fred a two time Kangaroo tourist who was Vice-Captain in 1932-33 tour.
While the Warriors cannot boast the history of the TRL’s foundation clubs, it has an impressive pedigree from the very early days of the development of the game on the Darling Downs. While rugby union had been played for some decades previous, rugby league came in to being when the Allora Junior Boomerang Club was formed at Allora’s Andronico’s Cafe (now Allora Hardware) in May 1918, joining the Warwick Rugby League Union, a Clifton Club forming around the same period.
That meeting of thirty odd enthusiasts planted seeds that have grown in to a 50 year Wattles’ tradition.
This 2015 season has the Wattles’ teams taking the field in retro club jerseys similar to those the club played in during the late 1960’s & early 1970’s, with the addition of the current Queensland Rugby League logo and Wattles 50th Year logo.
Wattles will again boast competitive teams in all grades in their anniversary year according to their Club President, “Under 18, Reserve Grade & A Grade, with the Millmerran Rams linking with the Warriors in the C Grade competition again in 2015."
2015 is going to be a year to remember for Wattles Club faithful, off and hopefully on the field. If you have a past Wattles’ involvement and would like to assist with this season’s celebrations or further information, please contact Aaron Scheid on 0458 204 550.