Despite only being days into April, the first grand final has already been played and won.
With neither Quilpie or Augathella able to form a team to compete in the Western Rugby League, the Charleville Comets and Cunnamulla Rams didn’t throw in the towel, instead deciding to face off each week over a four-week period with the last match being a ‘winner takes all’ finale.
It has been an eventful four weeks in the region; with 40+ degree temperatures, heavy rains, rivers overflowing and severe dust storms all in the space of a month.
The highlight however has been former Maroon, Adrian Vowles having a run for his old club, Charleville last week.
After good, heavy rain in the West over the last few days to briefly ease the thoughts of the drought, the crowd gathered at a wet Charleville Showgrounds to witness the first Western Rugby League grand final in over two years.
The rivalry between the two towns over the years has never wavered and even though the sides had faced off for the last month, it was a highly-anticipated grand final by supporters from both towns.
As expected, there was open footy played by both teams, but the fitness of the Comets allowed them to run out very convincing winners.
Even though the result was fairly convincing with Charleville winning 42-0; it wasn’t a match for the faint-hearted with the defence at times ferocious, and the attacking raids outstanding.
One of the best stories coming from the decider derived from the effort and dedication one player showed just to get on the paddock.
Residing outside Quilpie (approximately 250km away), Tom Mason realised earlier in the week that the township would be cut off due to the rising Barcoo River, so he left his vehicle on the Charleville side of the waterway.
For game day, he organised for a helicopter ride to get him from his property to his vehicle, then he was going to drive the two hours to get to the game.
His plan was yet another inspiring indication of the dedication players will go to just to strap on the boots in the Outback.
Heartbreakingly, though, this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
A severe dust storm came through the area on the big day and they were unable to get the helicopter in the air … Mason sadly missing the grand final.
That’s the Outback for you!
The good news is, the season is still not over for many of the players.
A team has now been selected to represent the Western Ringers in a trial game next week against Roma with South West Country jerseys up for grabs.
That team will compete in Mount Isa at the Queensland Outback Muster in June with the ambition of being selected to represent Queensland Outback in their clash against the Northern Remote Areas, this year being played at Thursday Island.
A big thank you must be extended to both clubs, coaching staff and players from the Western Rugby League to keep the greatest game of all going in the area and providing plenty of entertainment for the locals.
When the idea to revive the Western League competition came to fruition, these two clubs showed amazing spirit and a never say die attitude.
There were so many stumbling blocks thrown in front of them, but they continued on, training and recruiting players from everywhere and anywhere to ensure their players got some decent footy this year.