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Maroons legends have hailed the famous and feared Daisy brothers for preparing them for State of Origin football and called for statues to be erected in their honour.

Gene Miles and Colin Scott, two of the Maroons mainstays of the 1980s, were taught lessons they took with them through their football careers by Mount Isa legends Vern and Frank Daisy, two of the best country footballers to have not played in the Origin arena.

Miles, while playing for Townsville, recalled the day Vern used him as a "rotary hoe" in the Foley Shield final of 1979, the same afternoon Scott, playing fullback, lost his pants in a tackle by a fired up opposite number Frank Daisy.

"For their contribution to rugby league, I would like to see the Daisy brothers have statues erected outside the new Townsville stadium in their honour," Scott said.

"They could easily have played Origin in 1980 and made it in Brisbane or Sydney but money wasn't the motivation for them.

"They were happy to play for Mount Isa. In the late 1970s and 1980s they won five out of seven Foley Shield finals in Townsville, and the Daisy boys were the main men."

Miles said statues to the brothers would be "a fitting honour", before giving tough as teak lock-forward Vern the ultimate accolade.

"I give him so much credit for toughening up all of those footballers that left North Queensland, me being one of them, to come down here to Brisbane to play in the big league," Miles said.

"That sort of grounding you would not get anywhere else in Australia. Those experiences toughened me and Scotty up to make the next step down here.

"We thought so highly of Frank and Vern. They were our idols growing up. Scotty had the pleasure of playing for North Queensland in a rep jersey with them.

"They were just revered, a legendary family. Vern eventually came to Townsville and was captain / coach of Palm Island."

Mount Isa won the Foley Shield final 26-6 in 1979 and Miles can still remember one incident vividly, and with good reason.

"It was right on half-time and back in the day, the half-way mark, where you kick off, was just used and used and never grassed,” Miles recalled.

Gene Miles at training with Arthur Beetson.
Gene Miles at training with Arthur Beetson.

"It was the hardest part of the football field, a barren piece of dirt.

"He didn’t have to do it to me – but Vern being Vern – he did.

I was running away from him. He was coming from behind me. He managed to pick up one of my legs, put his forearm in the back of my head and used me like a rotary hoe into that barren part of the deck.

"I went into half-time with gravel rash all over my face. I sat there listening to the coach with a wet sponge on my face trying to soothe the pain.

"The siren had gone and all he had to do was ankle tap me and I would have fallen on the deck. Nah. Not Vern. On the field he was a cruel, cruel man."

The Foley Shield final was like the Sydney grand final. It was the last game on the calendar and was played to packed out crowds.

Mount Isa created a dynasty courtesy of the Daisy brothers.

Scott was in awe of both brothers, but Vern gave him nightmares.

 "It is not often that you see a black man with green eyes,” Scott said.

"When you looked into them on the football field those eyes would stand out, especially if he was after you.

“I tried not to look at him. When you got tackled by Vern, you’d get up and play the ball and avoid eye contact.

"On the field Vern was a great ball player, could read play and see plays in advance.

"I call him the black version of Wally Lewis because he could read the play before it happened and put players through gaps."

Scott can spin a yarn with the best of them but Miles was also not keen to ever look into Vern's eyes.

Miles and Scott watching Wynnum Manly in action at Kougari Oval.
Miles and Scott watching Wynnum Manly in action at Kougari Oval.

"That is not a myth. Vern just had eyes that would kill you," Miles said.

"He would look straight through you. You knew you were in trouble if you got the stare. It was the end of the world for you.

"He was an intimidator. He was a great footballer. He wasn’t a thug and he would have made it down here in the big time and absolutely killed it."

Before the Foley Shield final of 1979, a year before Scott played in the inaugural Origin clash at Lang Park, a moment of truth arrived.

Colin Scott in action for Queensland.
Colin Scott in action for Queensland.

"Before the final, a reporter rang me up and he said he had a question he wanted to ask me," Scott grinned.

"He said he was going to ask me a question to camera and that he wanted me to say  ‘we’ll see who is number one’.

"Frank was the North Queensland fullback in 1979 and I was the Queensland fullback.

"When the reporter asked me how I'd go, I went along with it and said ‘we’ll see who is number one’."

Scott went away from that interview and back to his motel thinking about what he had just said, and held his head in anguish.

"I thought, 'oh man, I don’t want that to be on TV'. That journo didn’t know the Daisy boys and what they were capable of," he said.

"I rung the journo up and I asked him not to play the interview because the Daisy boys could fight and I knew Frank would come after me, with Vern by his side.

"Luckily he cut the interview out. Years later I told the Daisy boys the story and they both said 'lucky they didn’t run it because we would have given it to you all right’.”

Frank Daisy got Scott a good one on that 1979 day though, which resulted in the headline in the local paper the next day that read 'TOWNSVILLE PANTSED BY MOUNT ISA'

And the photo underneath of Scott in his underwear topped it off.

The infamous photo that accompanied the headline 'TOWNSVILLE PANTSED BY MOUNT ISA'.
The infamous photo that accompanied the headline 'TOWNSVILLE PANTSED BY MOUNT ISA'.

"I ran past Frank and he grabbed my shorts and because they were nylon, he ripped them right off me," Scott said.

"I went over to get them and could see they were ripped to shreds so I hung my head and went over to the sideline all embarrassed because the crowd was giving it to me.

"They threw me a pair of shorts and they were five sizes too big for me, so I had to take them off and get another pair."

Miles, named in the Queensland team of the century in 2008, became known in the world of rugby league for his signature one-handed basketball pass but he said Vern Daisy had mastered it well before he did.

"Vern was just feared. You had to two-man tackle him even back in those days because he had ball skills you could only dream of,” Miles said.

"He would flick balls between his legs, over his shoulder…you name it. Vern was the pioneer of carrying the ball in one hand.

"I did it, but not to the degree he did it. He just has these big mother hands.

"Together, the Daisy brothers were brilliant. They were telepathic and that particular day of the 1979 Foley Shield final they threw balls over their shoulder and there was someone there to catch it. They just blew us off the park.

"Yes we got beat, but I learned so much from that match."

“It was a very good Townsville side… and yet… Mount Isa towelled us up.

"They were the kings of the Foley Shield. They were brutal.”

On the park, the Daisy brothers were magic. Off it, Scott could always see them coming from a distance. Two men in hats.

"They always got around with their big cowboy hats so you could see them coming, which was just as well," Scott grinned.

Colin Scott and Gene Miles at FOGS HQ.
Colin Scott and Gene Miles at FOGS HQ.

Miles reinforced his old Wynnum Manly and Broncos teammate's assessment.

"They are not pretend cowboys. They are the original cowboys, and to this day they still wear the black, felt cowboy hats," Miles said.

Scott still sees the Daisy brothers around the traps, and he is still in awe of them.

"I was invited up to the Indigenous carnival the year before last and me and Vern were the ambassadors. He is a wonderful man," Scott said.

"I still say that Vern and Frank would have been household names in the Sydney comp.

"They will always be remembered as great footballers, two of the best.

"They taught me plenty."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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