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Diehards daughters building their own league legacy

Valleys Diehards have a rich history and as a club, the Royal Blues have been a fixture of rugby league in Brisbane since 1908.

For years, the Diehard spirit has been passed down from grandfather, to father, to son - and in 2021, to daughter as well.

Stories have told and retold about the feats of great rugby league men - and now their daughters are writing a new chapter in blue ink.

After claiming a final-round win over Burleigh Bears, the Valleys BHP Premiership team finished on top of the ladder to claim the minor premiership and they are now gearing up for a tilt at the finals this week.

Featuring in their win last weekend were three second-generation Diehards.

Valleys Diehards v West Brisbane Panthers

Jamie-Lee Lewis, Kody House and Portia Bourke all have Diehards dads and are now going about forging their own Valleys history.

David Bourke was a premiership winner with Valleys in 1989 and 1990; he now gets to sit and watch daughter Portia play for the Diehards and he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s a great feeling watching Portia play, we would have supported her no matter where she played, but to see her playing for Valleys is special,” Bourke said.

“She’s a lot different to me, more powerful, better fend and she loves the gym.

“The opportunities in the game now for girls is unbelievable and when Portia was born 20 years ago, it wasn’t even an option.

“To think she is part of Valleys first women’s team is great.

“I played against Wally and with him at the Broncos and with Lloyd House too, so the three girls together are special.”

Portia Bourke, Kody House and Jamie-Lee Lewis. Photo: Michael Nunn
Portia Bourke, Kody House and Jamie-Lee Lewis. Photo: Michael Nunn

Portia made her debut for Valleys in the clash against the Bears last week, coming into the Diehards line up at late notice, but doing her bit to help Valleys to a win.

“It’s so exciting playing for Valleys, dad is so well known at the club,” Portia said.

“I love being at Valleys, it’s been great and it’s my first year and to be playing with Kody House and Jamie-Lee Lewis has been terrific.

“I have seen a little bit of dad playing, I think I might be stronger than him.

“I don’t walk like him or run, he had a penguin-type run.

“I think dad and I are similar in that we both work hard and want the same thing, we just both want to be the best we can and do it at Valleys.”

This season, Valleys have had House patrolling the edge, with the second rower turning into a try-scoring machine with four tries from seven games.

Kody House training with Queensland in 2018. Photo: NRL Images
Kody House training with Queensland in 2018. Photo: NRL Images

House has played for the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland and Australia, but takes great pride in wearing the same Valleys jumper her dad Lloyd House wore when he played for the club in 1987.

“It’s pretty special to be part of history where daughters can play at this level and follow in our fathers’ footsteps,” House said.

“I have this huge photo at home of my late Dad playing against Wally Lewis and I’ve always thought it was amazing that both Jamie-Lee and I have played together and against each other over the years, creating a new kind of legacy.

“Makes me grateful that I get to play rugby league in the same jersey as my dad.

“Jamie-Lee Lewis has suffered a season-ending broken ankle, but she’s played her part in Valleys finishing top of the table.”

Lewis suffered her injury in Valley’s 20-8 win over Tweed in Round 5.

Lewis played five games this year and did plenty of defending with 63 tackles and one try.

“I first heard of the Valleys Rugby League club when my Dad Wally was talking about his favourite times playing rugby league,” Lewis said.

“It seemed a little too good to be true, but since my switch to the Diehards this year, I've also found it to be the most enjoyable sporting club I've been associated with.

“Loyalty and spirit are two things that are necessary to guarantee success in a sporting club, and Valleys has plenty of both.

“Every week, the girls are thrilled to have plenty of former players and fans supporting us - they have always been loyal Valleys fans - and always will be.

“There have been thousands of proud men who helped create the famous Diehard spirit, now it's the girls turn to continue the tradition.

“My Dad always said his time at Valleys was the most enjoyable of his football career. He loved the spirit of the club where every player became 'a friend for life'.

“He also said my switch to play for Valleys was a thrilling day for him. He loves the club. He always has, and he always will. I’m so proud to be in the royal blue.

“I am absolutely loving this season. We all have worked so hard in the pre-season.

"And also, the girls I’m playing alongside with has been amazing ... we back each other up. Very proud to call them my family.

“I have absolutely loved playing alongside Portia and Kody ... especially sharing history with them to be part of second generation where our fathers played in the old days.

"Hopefully we can come home with premiership and make history."

Jamie-Lee Lewis in action for Valleys Diehards in 2021. Photo: Vanessa Hafner
Jamie-Lee Lewis in action for Valleys Diehards in 2021. Photo: Vanessa Hafner

Wally Lewis played with Valleys from 1978 to 1983 and won a premiership in 1979 with a win over Souths.

This season, Lewis has proudly headed to Emerson Park to watch Jamie-Lee play for their team.

“When Jamie-Lee played for Souths, I would go to games and support her, I even wore a Souths polo, but honestly I couldn’t wait to get home and throw it in the laundry,” Wally laughed.

“Valleys gets in your soul, the thing I love about the Diehards is the same people are still there that were there 40 years ago.

“They don’t have a child or mate playing, they’re just there to watch Valleys, their team.

“That’s special and now Jamie-Lee is part of that and I am so happy she got to experience it.

“Jamie-Lee is so mentally and physically strong and I am so proud of her."

Valleys will face West Brisbane Panthers in their semi final this weekend.

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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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