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From the archives: John Plath

A young John Plath learnt his trade in the Chook Pen at Wynnum, having the best seat in the house for the rocking 1980s, and then became a Seagull and Bronco.

Filling roles and plugging gaps, Plath had a great career that brought four premierships in the national first grade competition and plenty of good times.

John Plath Q&A

1988 Queensland under 19 Origin and you’ve got some future teammates in there - Cann, Teevan, Renouf and Gee - that’s not a bad side and won 8-4?

That’s a low scoring game isn’t it. How can you have Steve Renouf in the backline and score two tries in a game? I’ll blame Teevan- he would have been running the ball the whole time. We should have got it out to 'Pearl' a bit more. That was my first rep team in a while since under 12 and playing for Queensland before an Origin was a big deal. I stayed with Jason Hetherington’s family too when I made the Queensland primary schools team too.

1988 you’re playing Colts for Wynnum - were you always a Wynnum kid?

I was a Valleys fan as a kid. Loved 'the rat' (Ross Strudwick). We moved to Wynnum when I was 14, dad was a principal so we used to move around a bit but settled in Wynnum and what a time to be moving to Wynnum. I fell in love with the place and the team. I remember seeing Greg Dowling at the shops and couldn’t believe it. We used to go to the game and I just loved seeing Wally and Geno up close. 1988 I was at Wynnum and I played about six games in first grade and then Broncos Colts in 1989 and reserve grade in 1990 at the Broncos.

How did you get to the Broncos?

I repeated year 12 in 1987 so I could play for the Australian Schoolboys and Jason Little and Tim Horan got the gig instead of me. Nuffies they turned out to be. So I got picked on the wing instead of the centres. Mr Culloty at State High had gone to uni with dad and he taught Paul Morgan at State High. So Wayne has come out to see the Plath family at Wynnum and offered me $2000. How good. So after school I have headed into his office to sign my Broncos’ contract. I was too nervous to say anything and I have sat there for two hours waiting for someone anyone to talk to me. They figured out why I was there and I have signed my contract and headed home on the train. Pretty sure I was now a star. I got home all excited and ringing family and friends I was off to Red Hill just going to be me Wally and Gene everyday hanging out. The contract said John Plant, so I had to go back the next day and get it changed.

How do you handle your son Max playing for Redcliffe and not Wynnum?

I struggled at first - and dad isn’t happy - but it’s what’s best for him and he’s going well. They play some really good football. But yeah, the family is working through Max being a Dolphin.

What do you love about the Hostplus Cup?

I just think it keeps you grounded. I remember when I was at the Broncos there was a very clear line between you and the Broncos first graders. As a Colt in 1989, I didn’t even see the first grade side. I remember we were allowed to go to the Adidas warehouse and pick out one pair of shoes. It was organised Colts get one pair, reserve grade gets two and I think Wally and Gene got 30 if they wanted. I think if you are in and around those NRL players before your time you can think you’ve made it before you have. It’s good to keep them at a distance. You have to want it, see it in the distance, but know they are first grade and if you want to be over there, then work hard. It’s good for young players to go out to Wynnum to learn their trade from tough men that have worked hard all day.

Are you a jumper keeper?

I have two big bags of jumpers; I have my Wynnum jumpers and Broncos.

Who is your favourite Seagull?

Look I don’t think any kid that grew up in Wynnum in the 1980s is ever going to say anything other than Wally and Gene. For Origin players to be in your community was just so good. You couldn’t explain it to kids now that a Seagull would play Origin on Wednesday then tile your mum’s bathroom on Friday. David Green, Warren Green, Gary Coyne - Wynnum stars just filled my whole world.

1991 Round 3, your second game in NSWRL and you’re against Coyne.

No. 16 off the bench, straight into the Canberra machine. I was probably staring at Coyne. He would have thought I was strange.

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