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Blackall are "the best club in Australia"

Last year, the Blackall Magpies was celebrating the news that it was the both the QRL and NRL Grassroots Club of the Year - now it can claim to be the best sporting club in the whole of Australia.

Before a large crowd oat Sydney's Tattersall's Club last week and amid cheers and tears for the story of endurance and mateship they had to tell, club officials Phil 'Flop' Rooney and Hector Heumiller accepted the 2019 Sportscover Clubbies Award as the best club in the nation.

Blackall were one of more than 1000 nominated nationwide for eight awards, representing a huge range of sports from calisthenics and bowls to cricket and swimming and everything in between.

The awards are in their third year and are run by Nextmedia, which publishes a range of sporting publications including Inside Sport, and the Confederation of Australian Sport.

The Blackall Magpies' story - of being a beacon of hope and inspiration for a struggling community in the middle of a ravaging drought, and winning their first premiership in 30 years - was well documented as it stepped its way through to being the NRL Grassroots Club of the Year in 2018.

Drought can't suppress rural spirit

The crowd in Sydney heard it had "more than survived without a clubhouse, pokies or major sponsors".

"Despite it being tough going, the community-focused club has taken part in anti-Ice campaigns and raised funds for breast cancer awareness and suicide prevention," the citation said.

"There's no doubt that Blackall loves its Magpies and so does Clubbies."

It continued that track record a fortnight ago, staging its annual charity day, this year for Heart of Australia, and auctioning players' specially commissioned jerseys after the game.

Nextmedia's head of sport Kevin Airs said legends of the sport got celebrated all the time, but the awards aimed to reward the unsung local heroes who are the backbone of communities around the country.

"It was the hardest thing to judge - the competition was so fierce, the standard so high," he said.

"The over-riding thing in Blackall's favour was that the club was bigger than the club.

"The stronger the bond between a sporting club and the community, the stronger the community.

"And that takes dedication by a lot of unsung heroes."

Queensland Rugby League chief operating officer Rohan Sawyer was in town to review the club's operations at the same time.

President Flop Rooney said footy had been a life saver both for the young men who played and the community that supported them.

"After spending the week on the farm having to shoot their own stock, it is good to come into town on the weekend and catch up with mates at the footy and forget the week."

Currently halfway through the 2019 Central West playing season, the Magpies sit undefeated at the top of the ladder and have taken to social media with the hashtag #swoopingseason.

*This story was written by Sally Cripps (Queensland Country Life)

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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