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'The world is our oyster': Miles dreaming big after Country Week

It has been a long journey to this point, and Miles Devils president Ken Brown says the work is far from done.

A battle between – before the weekend – the second-placed Burleigh Bears and fifth-placed Redcliffe Dolphins for Activate! Queensland Country Week was more than he could hope for a few years ago when the club was in the red.

“The hard work has paid off mate,” he said.

“That's the main thing, the work that we put into the ground and the facilities over the last few years now has people starting to recognise our town, they know where Miles is and they realise that we're not hillbillies."

A sprawling but understated patio sits higher than the ground, the indoor area is serviceable when the mercury drops as it can do and the addition of a new bar – a shipping container converted with the proceeds of their XXXX Community Club of the Year win in 2022 – gives the club everything it needs to host major events.

Miles Devils president Ken Brown. Photo: Jacob Grams/QRL
Miles Devils president Ken Brown. Photo: Jacob Grams/QRL

“It's a nice relaxed atmosphere and it's good viewing. I mean, there's wide open space that they can watch the games and we're improving all the time.

“We've got a lot more things that we want to do here. So we'll just have to chip away.”

It’s the off-field focus that has helped bring in the community and welcome and even attract the players, including a handful of Fijian players doing apprenticeships in and around town, making their existence a bit more comfortable.

The new bar, a retrofitted shipping container, was opened this year.
The new bar, a retrofitted shipping container, was opened this year.

The club now opens its facilities for the likes of the Back to the Bush Festival for the neighbouring historical museum, and hosted 600-odd people for the Miles Chamber of Commerce Christmas party last year.

Not to mention there’s more outback footy carnivals they can put on their radar and get that regular buzz in the community.

“You've got to raise your club profile before you can do anything else. You've got to have the results off the field, to get it on the field."

Perhaps the dressing rooms were a bit more understated than his team usually enjoys, but Redcliffe Dolphins coach Ben Te'o said the visit to Miles - his first taste of Activate! Queensland Country Week - was a memorable one for his players just as much as for the fans who relayed their excitement at their mere presence.

For one, it had been an important eye-opener for some of them who asked the purpose of the round, but again off the field the welcome and hospitality could not have left a better impression - on top of the 38-6 win putting them into the top four.

Ben Te'o addressing his players at captain's run on Friday.
Ben Te'o addressing his players at captain's run on Friday.

"They put a good feed on for us last night. The smoker they had at the pub is the biggest smoker I've ever seen in my life. We'll start with that," Te'o said.

"But they're just nice and friendly and they're excited about their footy.

"It's about spreading the game and getting to the rural areas and also just realising that a lot of the guys in my team are not from this country town, but they are from country towns, so I think they are appreciative to come out here and show a little bit of love to people out here who really love our game."

QRL chief executive Ben Ikin was in attendance in Miles and said it was the generous community spirit and good nature of the people that immediately struck him on arrival - and an unbridled passion for rugby league.

"You walk through the gates and you're already 'yarning' with people who love the game, who live out here and who ensure there's opportunities for kids to play and put on days like this," he said.

XXXX Community Club of the Year - Miles Devils

"Miles Devils were our XXXX Community Club of the Year for 2022 and you look around at what they've done and what sort of show they can put on and you think boy oh boy, there's people out this way that can do so much with so little.

"It makes you feel good about the game."

The best example of the passion for rugby league in the bush could be seen in the Queensland Outback teams, with a good portion of players coming from Mt Isa and as far as Normanton to add to the show.

"I was having a good chat with the bus driver, Rodney, who drove the Queensland Outback teams on their second stint - 11 hours from Winton (the first leg from Mt Isa) to here and you realise how far people are prepared to travel to participate in a day like this and it's simply because they love the game," Ikin said.

"As the QRL we've got to never forget that and ensure we do everything we can to provide opportunities for people all over the state - not just close to the coast - to keep being able to participate, to play, to learn and come together as communities just because they love rugby league."

For Brown and the Miles committee, who have spent countless hours building their brand, they know the passion all too well.

But with plenty more to prove, there is no resting on their laurels.

“If we can pull this off and show that we’re fair dinkum about it... the world is our oyster," Brown said.

“We can go for more stuff, more games, more carnivals.

“I don’t know about an NRL game, but nothing's impossible. You just never know.”

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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