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Vale Gary Parcell

A one club man, Gary Parcell played all of his eight Tests for Australia and 14 matches for Queensland from Ipswich Brothers.

The Parcell name is revered in Ipswich and surrounds, with Gary's father, Perc having played seven times for Queensland in the 1920s, while Gary's son, Steve toured France with Queensland Residents in 1989.

Steve's son, Matt, played in the NRL for Brisbane Broncos and Manly Sea Eagles, and has spent the past four seasons in the English Super League.

Gary, a farmer from Harrisville, toured England and France with the 1959-60 Kangaroos and was back in the United Kingdom at the end of 1960 for the World Cup.

Mobile for a big man, Parcell proved a headache for the best defensive sides and one of his finest displays came in the First Test of the 1959 tour of England.

Played at Swinton, he tore into the British pack in Australia's memorable 22-14 win in front of a parochial crowd of 35,141.

It was the work of the likes of Parcell, Brian Hambly and Billy Wilson which laid the platform for the Kangaroos' speedy backline, with young centre Reg Gasnier scoring three tries.

But the Test which gave Parcell the most satisfaction was the opening match of the 1960 series against France, in Sydney, when the entire Australian front row hailed from Ipswich.

Noel Kelly, Dud Beattie and Gary Parcell, Australia’s front row against France in 1960. Photo: supplied
Noel Kelly, Dud Beattie and Gary Parcell, Australia’s front row against France in 1960. Photo: supplied

Parcell and Dud Beattie (Railways), were the props, while Noel Kelly played hooker.

Kelly was selected from Ayr, in North Queensland, where he had taken on a captain-coach role, but he hailed from Ipswich, having played there with Goodna and Brothers.

In fact, there were five Queenslanders in the Australian pack, with Elton Rasmussen (Toowoomba) and Jim Paterson (Townsville) in the second row. The only New South Welshman was lock, Johnny Raper, from St George. The match finished a try-less 8-8 draw.

Noel Kelly died earlier this year, while Dud Beattie passed away in 2016.

Parcell was first chosen for Queensland in 1954 and he travelled to Sydney with the Maroons, but did not get a run.

He made his debut against New South Wales in 1956, and played against the touring New Zealand side the same year.  He played 10 more matches against NSW, and one match against France, in 1960. He also played for Queensland against Great Britain in 1962.

In 1959, he was part of the Queensland side which won the inter-state series 3-1, the last Maroons' series triumph until State of Origin football began in 1980.

At the instigation of Queensland coach Mal Meninga, Parcell and other members of that 1959 side were honoured at a gala dinner, ahead of the 2013 Origin series, with players from the two eras swapping stories during an emotional jersey presentation ceremony (main image).

Gary Parcell (far left, back row) in 1959 Queensland team. Photo: supplied
Gary Parcell (far left, back row) in 1959 Queensland team. Photo: supplied

Parcell also enjoyed considerable success in the inter-city, Bulimba Cup competition, with the 1958 campaign one of the most memorable.

Ipswich beat Toowoomba 15-10 in the final, played in front of a record Ipswich crowd of 7242, with Parcell scoring the match winning try.

"The fiery, cruel tackling Ipswich pack were once again the winning factor," wrote Jack Reardon in 'The Courier-Mail'.

"Dud Beattie was powerful in the rucks, where he and fellow forwards, Gary Parcell, Jim Foreman, Noel Kelly and Mick Scully took the edge off the speed of the Toowoomba forwards, with manhandling tackles."

Despite offers from Sydney clubs, Gary Parcell retired at the end of the 1962 season, aged just 29.

Gary Parcell at home at Harrisville. Photo: supplied
Gary Parcell at home at Harrisville. Photo: supplied

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) Chairman Peter V’landys AM paid tribute to Parcell.

“Gary was a tough player in a tough era, but he was also a gentleman,” Mr V’landys said.

“The all-Ipswich Kangaroos front-row was a famed partnership and Gary was the last surviving member of it, having lost Noel earlier this year.

“Gary is also part of a wonderful rugby league family, with his father representing Queensland in the 1920s and his grandson Matt playing in the NRL Premiership.

“On behalf of the game, I offer our deepest condolences to Gary’s family.”

Parcell died on Monday, November 30, aged 87. His funeral will take place at Harrisville on Thursday, December 10.

In an interview conducted by Steve Ricketts and Peter Psaltis at his home Harrisville in 2013, Parcell reflected on his time in rugby league. 

1959 Qld Gary Parcell Part 1