Diehard drove 1300km for 'home' games

How far would you drive each week to play footy with your mates? 100km? 200km? Maybe even 500km?

Queenslander Alex Choyce has set the bar at a phenomenal level, driving between 1300-1650km for every game he played this year.

Choyce, who was based in Yeppoon on the Pacific Ocean coastline, was trekking almost 10 hours inland at times so he could pull on the jersey of his beloved Blackall Magpies in season 2018.

While a 'home' game at Blackall Showgrounds was only a 7hr 20min drive from Yeppoon, a game against Longreach necessitated an overnight stop and an extra 2hr 30min in the car.

Had Winton participated in this year's Central West competition, it would have added another two hours in each direction.

"A lot of people thought I was crazy," the 25-year-old Magpies forward said.

"I have been living in Yeppoon for work, but I grew up in Blackall and most of my family is still in the area.

"I did a few miles this season, that's for sure.

"I think I only missed two games the whole year."

Unsurprisingly Choyce, a former CQ junior representative, didn't make it to training sessions during the week, only playing on weekends.

Still, he was shown no favouritism under the disciplined regime of coach Hector Heumiller, relegated to the bench most games.

"That didn't bother me," says Choyce.

"I was coming to Blackall to see my family as well and all I wanted to do was play a full year of A Grade for the Magpies."

The postscript to Choyce's amazing dedication is that Blackall managed to secure its first minor premiership in 40 years and its first premiership in 30 years.

He was named Player of the Final, which he celebrated alongside mother Liz.

In an area which has been gripped by drought for seven years, and which was rocked by the sudden death of player Lee Shrimp in 2016, the accomplishment was remarkable.

Blackall was duly named the QRL Club of the Year for 2018 at a gala awards function at Brisbane's City Hall.

Several other players with family ties have made pilgrimages from Rockhampton to play for Blackall in recent times.

Not so long ago, through the early part of the 21st century, the Magpies folded due to a shortage of players.

Photos courtesy of Sally Cripps / Queensland Country Life. Video by Bill Scurfield.