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Duncan Thompson insights inspire next generation

Rugby league fans are being treated to a unique insight into the mind of one of Queensland’s greatest players and coaches – Toowoomba icon Duncan Thompson.

Among his many achievements, Thompson represented both Queensland and Australia, with his exploits on the field still talked about to this day.

In 2008, nearly three decades after his passing, Thompson was named in the Queensland Rugby League Team of the Century.

His legacy lives on, with the Toowoomba Rugby League and Western Clydesdales proud to support the launch of the locally published book, Rugby League, Coaching and Contract Football.

The text was written by Thompson himself, some 50 years ago, and until now has never been published.

His achievements as a player, coach, selector, administrator, businessman and citizen are well documented in the book, supported by almost 50 photos covering mainly the period of 1915 to 1956.

Thompson was captain and coach of the all-conquering Toowoomba team – dubbed the Galloping Clydesdales – in the early 1920s.

This great tradition was further enhanced under his coaching in the 1950s when the Clydesdales won six consecutive Bulimba Cup titles against Brisbane and Ipswich.

Publisher Derek Schlyder, a lifelong fan of Duncan Thompson, has published the book free of charge and Thompson’s descendants have gifted copyright of the book to the Toowoomba Rugby League.

QRL history committee chairman Steve Ricketts said Toowoomba earned the reputation as the 'University of Rugby League' because of Thompson's legendary coaching acumen.

"He was a man ahead of his time, and Wayne Bennett unashamedly borrowed some of his practices when he entered the coaching arena in the late 1970s,” Ricketts said.

Publisher Derek Schlyder launching the book
Publisher Derek Schlyder launching the book

“One example I recall, from attending Broncos' training, is the use of a sand pit for tackling drills.

"I had the honour of meeting Duncan when he conducted a coaching clinic at Miami High in 1972, when I was cadet journalist. He had the young Gold Coast footballers eating out of the palm of his hand.

"One of the footballers who moved to Toowoomba to learn from Thompson was Barry Muir, who went on to become one of Australia's all-time great halfbacks.

“When Muir coached Queensland in the 1970s, he again sought the advice of Thompson, who had represented Queensland, New South Wales and Australia in the 1920s, as well as playing a major role in North Sydney's back-to-back premierships wins in 1921-22.

"Thompson's sports store in Toowoomba was a mecca for people from all codes, and a range of football boots and footballs, were named after him.

"All this is even more remarkable given Thompson took a bullet through the lung while fighting the Germans in France in 1918, with doctors warning him not to play contact sport again."

All proceeds of the book, which is available for purchase at a cost of $20, will be shared equally between Toowoomba Rugby League and Western Clydesdales to advance and promote rugby league in the region.

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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