Vale Jim Paterson

The Queensland Rugby League community is mourning the passing of one of the greats, north Queensland’s Jim Paterson.

Pato, as he was affectionately known, had a long and distinguished rugby league career as player, coach and later selector.

His name became a household one in Queensland during the 1950s and 1960s,  as he represented both Queensland and Australia from his beloved north Queensland.

Jim Paterson during the 1959 Kangaroos tour.
Jim Paterson during the 1959 Kangaroos tour.

Pato's on field success in many ways reflected a growing confidence and stature for the game in the state's north during that time.

A product of Townsville's Souths club, and originally a five-eighth, but later a forward, Pato made the north Queensland trials in 1954 before moving to Toowoomba for two seasons in 1955 - at the invitation of legendary coach Duncan Thompson.

Playing for Toowoomba Valleys he made the Toowoomba Bulimba Cup squad before going home to north Queensland for the 1957 season; those two seasons in Toowoomba were to be the only ones he played club football outside of north Queensland.  

Pato made his Queensland debut from the north in 1958.

The following year he was a member of the victorious North Queensland side that defeated the Combined Brisbane side to claim the first ever state league championship.

This success reflected the growing stature of the game in the state's north and was also reflected in the number of north Queensland-based players, including Pato who wore maroon that year.

That 1959 Queensland side, coached by the great Clive Churchill, was to be the last one to win a full series over New South Wales before the first Origin series of 1982, defeating NSW 3-1.

This resounding series win catapulted several Queensland players into the Australian side, including Pato.  Other notable Queensland players to debut for Australia in 1959 were Noel Kelly, Barry Muir, Elton Rasmussen, Dud Beattie and Gary Parcell.

At the end of the 1959 season, he was selected in the 28-strong 1959 Australian Kangaroo touring squad, just one of seven Queensland-based players to make the squad.

After returning from the Kangaroo tour, Pato joined the Innisfail Rugby League for three seasons and continued to represent both Queensland and Australia, playing two tests against France in 1960 and touring New Zealand with the Australian 1961 side as an Innisfail-based player.

Queensland players in the 1960 Australia side, with a record five Queensland forwards: back row L to R: Elton Rasmussen, Jim Paterson. Front row L to R: half back Barry Muir, Dud Beattie, Noel Kelly and Gary Parcell. Note: Col Weir was also selected as a reserve in this squad.
Queensland players in the 1960 Australia side, with a record five Queensland forwards: back row L to R: Elton Rasmussen, Jim Paterson. Front row L to R: half back Barry Muir, Dud Beattie, Noel Kelly and Gary Parcell. Note: Col Weir was also selected as a reserve in this squad.

He was one of five Queensland forwards to play for Australia in 1960 - a record for that time, including the legendary 'Ipswich front row' of Dud Beattie, Noel Kelly and Gary Parcell.

For the 1963 season, he moved to Ingham, leading the Herbert River Rugby Foley Shield side before returning to Townsville to play out his career with Townsville Centrals; the same club that many years later had a junior player emerge from its ranks by the name of Gorden Tallis.

Pato continued to wear maroon until 1966.

A major milestone later in his playing career was leading the North Queensland representative side to a momentous win over Great Britain in 1966.

The design of the jersey worn by the North Queensland side on that historic day has been used by the North Queensland Cowboys to honour former north Queensland sides on several occasions.

Jim retired as a player after the 1968 season, but continued his involvement in the game as a selector for Townsville, North Queensland, Queensland Country, Queensland and Australia.

His three years in the Australian jersey made him the most capped north Queensland-based forward before the NRL era and in 2008 he was selected in the 'Queensland 100 Greats', as well as the North Queensland Team of the Century.

Former Queensland and Australian team mates Jim Paterson and Des McGovern at the 2008 Cemetery of League celebrations in Brisbane.
Former Queensland and Australian team mates Jim Paterson and Des McGovern at the 2008 Cemetery of League celebrations in Brisbane.

Like many of his generation, he played in an area when players held down full time jobs, and remained humble about his rugby league career.

Pato simply loved the game. 

His funeral will be held Saturday at 10am at Morleys in Townsville.

Jim Paterson

Position: Second row/lock forward

Clubs: South Townsville 1954, 1957-8, Toowoomba Valleys 1955-56, Innisfail 1960-62, Herbert River 1963, Townsville Centrals 1964-68

Representative matches:

Queensland - 24 matches 1958-1966

Australia -  8 test matches 1959-61; 1959 (3) v NZ, 1960 (2) v France, 1961 (2) v NZ; toured 1959 UK/France, 1961 New Zealand

North Queensland 1958-66

Queensland Country captain 1963-65