When the Tigers needed speed and a try, they looked to Mark McDonald.
The Tigers premiership winger scored 70 tries, scorching the very grass he now keeps lush and green at Totally Workwear Stadium.
How did you come to be a Tiger?
I went to Camp Hill High and started playing with Easts Carina and played for the Tigers all the way through. Ted Verrenkamp came and saw me play for the Australian Schoolboys in 1981 and signed me to the Tigers. I was a massive Tigers fan all through the 1970s. Little secret: I loved Tony Obst too. I played two games against New Zealand one in Sydney and one on the Gold Coast. I was always a Tiger.
70 tries - second most ever for the Tigers behind Peter Turner on 88 - do you have a favourite?
Lang Park in a State League game against North Queensland, I chip kicked twice to score and that was always my favourite try. I got three tries that day and we beat them 20-12 to make the final against Valleys, but then got beaten 26-10. Peter Coyne was too good for us.
1982 you came into grade you were only 18, do you remember your debut?
Norths at Bishop Park and I was marking Brian Dunn, who was a massive man and I was a lot less massive. He hurt my ribs but I just remember Norths being a scary place. I had Steve Stacey and Brad Backer in front of me, so I would just play here and there. Langy would always give me a run if one of those guys were out and that always gave me confidence. That first year in 1982 I played probably six games and then just built on that.
1983 finals and it’s Tiger time! Easts 14 Redcliffe 6. Steve Stacey injured and you come in for the grand final.
Steve Stacey did a bursa in his knee in the game against the Dolphins that we won 11-5 to win through to the grand final and I remember on the Monday, Langy has said to Stacey you’re out - no mucking around or fitness tests or waiting until kick off - that was it, I was in. Winning a premiership is great and I still have my jumper, but I didn’t feel like I was a huge part of it. I wouldn’t have played if Stacey wasn’t hurt. Easts were in all three grades in 1983, so I would have been playing the reserve grade grand final against Souths, which we lost 18-10.
Who is your favourite ever Tiger?
You’ve got two eras; the era where I watched the Tigers with Des Morris, Rod Morris and John Lang in the 1970s and then my playing time in the 1980s. I would say Larry Brigginshaw. He wasn’t the fittest player ever, but what a great player. He was a big man and could just tackle and run and do everything. I loved playing with Brad Backer and Steve Stacey. I learnt a lot off them - two state wingers. Of course, John Lang and Des Morris coached me. I will go with my captain, Larry.
You’re the groundsman at Totally Workwear Stadium. What other grounds do you rate?
I was a greenskeeper at Carina Bowls Club when I played and then became groundsman at Langlands 18 years ago. We have so much traffic on the place, everyone wants to train here. The Roosters were here a few weeks ago and said they wish they had this ground in Sydney. I said I wish you had it in Sydney too. I do a lot of professional development with other grounds, Suncorp Stadium and MCG. They obviously have much bigger budgets than me, but I love talking grass and working with other people to get it right. I look at old footage of Lang Park in September and shake my head, it’s so dusty and no grass.
Ever get any offers from Sydney?
Arthur Beetson rang to get me to Sydney once and the Roosters. I told him thanks, but I went there to play in 1981 for the schoolboys and I didn’t like it, so I will stay here at the Tigers.
Who gave you trouble?
When you’re a 75kg winger everyone gives you trouble. But the big outside backs were hard - Gene Miles, Mal and Peter Jackson. Jackson was bigger than people think and he was tall so hard to get a hold of and keep a hold of but I will say Gene Miles. Too big and skillful. I went to an Easts v Wynnum game and was talking to David Green and he was saying he feels lucky to have played in those Wynnum teams. I said: 'you were captain with about 12 state players in the side mate, no luck about it'. I always got on well with the Wynnum players and Valleys.
Coached by John Lang - what made him so good?
Langy was thorough, super organised. You were always confident with Langy the work had been done and if he said something, you listened and believed him. You never had any doubt. I always felt like he was a very good forwards coach, for obvious reasons. Our forwards just didn’t want to let Langy down.