It was a definite case of mate versus mate at this year’s Adrian Vowles Cup, as players across the carnival momentarily switched allegiances to ensure one undermanned side didn't miss out.
The successful and popular carnival kicked off in Charleville on February 25 with more than 1500 players in attendance.
Teams travelled from the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Toowoomba and many other areas – including two teams from Mt Isa – to take part in the Adrian Vowles Cup, with accommodation in Charleville completely booked out.
But it was a team from Wallumbilla – just east of Roma – that stole the hearts of footy fans and players alike across the weekend.
The Red Bulls under 16s arrived with just seven players due to illness and other reasons, leaving them quite a few short of a full team.
Every year they usually come along with a full team and are one of the stronger clubs around Roma.
But, even without the numbers, they made the 300-kilometre trip west to honour those players who wanted to play and were rewarded with the “true spirit” of the carnival, as members from numerous other sides put up their hand to help out.
The Red Bulls had a full team in every game they played and even had players from four different clubs helping them out at one stage.
It’s one of the good things about carnivals like this – anyone can jump in to help somebody else.
We saw it all weekend, with players from different teams cleaning up the grounds on Sunday and one kid from Roma playing with multiple teams to help them out.
The list goes on.
It’s stories like these that make this carnival what it is each year.
When it came to the finals, the atmosphere was unbelievable and the three games all lived up to expectations.
The under 14s final between Valleys Red and Redlands went down to the wire, going into extra time at 4-4, with Valleys scoring the winning try.
The girls under 17s final was taken out by Gatton Valleys, who defeated Roma Cities 8-0, but all teams demonstrated just how much the quality of the female game is improving.
And, finally, the under 16s boys decider proved to be the highlight as Dalby and Toowoomba Brothers battled it out with such unbelievable defence that not a point was scored, pushing the match into three periods of extra time.
In the end it was Dalby who crossed the line to win the game, but what an effort from both teams.
The Adrian Vowles Cup certainly has a different feel about it in the west and next season will be the tenth year it’s been played.
Plans are already underway so stay tuned for a bigger and better AV Cup in 2023.