Queensland Maroons legend Matt Scott is “absolutely stoked” his old stomping ground at Ilfracombe will host a Intrust Super Cup 'Get in the Game' Country Week match this round.
The North Queensland Cowboys veteran is the Central Queensland town’s favourite rugby league son and has fond memories of his early years playing league in and around Ilfracombe as a junior.
The CQ Capras and Tweed Seagulls will do battle at Wayne Taylor Oval in Ilfracombe on Saturday at 6pm in what will be the return of Gold Coast Titans star Ash Taylor from a stint away from the game on personal leave.
Match: Seagulls v Capras
Round 18 -
Venue: Wayne Taylor Oval, Ilfracombe
It promises to be a massive injection to the local economy and a treat for lovers of the game.
"I am absolutely stoked. I love the idea of Country Week and taking games out to regional areas," Cowboys prop Scott said.
"To get a game in Ilfracombe will be huge for the town and something I would have loved to have seen while growing up - that’s for sure."
Scott has fond recollections of his junior days in Ilfracombe before he left to attend St Brendan’s College in Yeppoon, where his rugby league career kicked off at the Central Queensland powerhouse school.
"When I was young I got to play a little bit there when I was under 10s and 12s," Scott said.
"There was actually a decent league comp out there. My memories of playing at Ilfracombe are good ones. It is a pretty decent oval and facility for a small town and shows just how much rugby league means in those areas.
"Game wise, I remember picking some burs off the field and gidgee rocks before we played, and putting a fair bit of vaseline on the knees so we didn’t get cut up too bad. I remember how much fun we had playing with mates and in the right spirit."
When Ifracombe didn’t have a side Scott played with the Longreach Tigers.
"As we grew up junior rugby league died off due to numbers and eventually we had to travel away to play in the Central Queensland competition to play footy which was a four-hour drive to a home game one-way," Scott said.
It is the struggles of bush rugby league that have inspired Scott to do something about it.
"I just started a Matt Scott Shield out in Longreach with the help of Longreach Junior Rugby League because getting junior rugby league out there means a lot to me,” Scott said.
"The QRL taking Intrust Super Cup games out there is only going to help.”
Scott’s sister Jo used to run the Wellshot Hotel in town. It is now run by Tracy Hatch who said the accommodation at her establishment was booked out and extra beer had been ordered for the weekend.
"Matt’s sister had the hotel a couple of owners before us and when people come in, Matt is often the subject of the conversation. Everyone thinks so highly of him and that reflects so well on Ilfracombe. Visitors always ask what he is up to and how his family are.
"We have had three big weekends in a row. We had our two-day shoot, our annual races and this weekend we have got the footy so we couldn’t have asked for anything better. People ask what they can do about the drought. What they can do is come and visit.”
Scott was delighted to hear that the pub was booked out and prepared for a huge weekend.
"That is awesome. A lot of people wouldn’t understand what a simple game like that will do to the town and region and local economy,” Scott said.
"It is certainly going to help out."
Scott still recalls pointing out Ilfracombe proudly to his Queensland teammates in 2014 when they approached the Longreach airport to celebrate Maroons fan day with the locals.
"That was great. I loved going out there as a part of the Maroons. Any time we visit regional areas, it is hard to explain how good it makes us feel as players with the support we get," Scott said.
"We were welcomed with open arms at Longreach. It was probably the most people that had been in the town for a while. I remember the plane from Brisbane flew over Ilfracombe and I pointed it out to a few of the guys who were quite surprised at the size of the place."
And the Wellshot Hotel is also set to have a nice sized memorabilia piece of Scott back up on its walls after Hatch said the previous keepsakes went walkabout.
"I did have some up but unfortunately someone liked it better than I did and it grew legs," Hatch chuckled.
"So I have recently purchased another portrait of Matt and I am just about to put it up."