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Some rugby league stories can’t be rushed or glossed over.

A lifetime commitment can’t be undersold and Brian Winney has given 50 years to the Redcliffe Dolphins.

Whether playing, coaching, refereeing or selector Winney has done and seen it all.

Brian Winney Q&A

You were born, raised and played for the Dragons during the golden era?

I joined the Dragons as a 16-year-old and I played Flegg and President's Cup. 1965 I played in the winning third grade grand final at the SCG and then Norm Provan came to me and said Billy Smith was going to be half back from now on and we’d like you to stay around but you may not be playing too much first grade anytime soon. They were on their way to winning 11 in a row, so it was a pretty hard team to break into. I asked for a release but the Dragons said no, so I had to go to the NSWRL and apply for a release. I got that clearance and went to the Eels for four years and then the Magpies where I played half to Tommy Raudonikis at five-eighth, but after two years a similar speech - this time from coach Don Parish - ‘we believe Tommy will be a future Test half’.

How did you end up at Redcliffe?

My wife and I had travelled to the Gold Coast for our honeymoon and I enjoyed harness racing, so we went up to Redcliffe, attended the races and stayed the night at the Waltzing Matilda Motel on the beach at Margate. I knew I liked the place and then in 1972 I left a note for Don McLennan at the club that I wouldn’t mind a game at the Dolphins when I heard that Barry Muir was going to be coach and I got the call back. We moved to Redcliffe 50 years ago and we’re still here.

Barry Muir is one of your football heroes, isn’t he?

Absolutely, it was a dream to be coached by Barry Muir. To be coached by one of the great half backs. The Dolphins hadn’t made finals since 1966 and Muir came in as coach, we got Ron Raper from Canterbury, Ron Carige from Penrith and Bob Cameron from Manly and of course big Robin Orchard from New Zealand. I think Barry was always most appreciative of the redemption that the Dolphins gave him. He demanded 100% from you because that’s what he would do if he was playing. I think a lot of Dolphins of that era would say they had their best years under Barry Muir. Earlier this year I attended a ceremony at Purtell Park where Barry Muir’s ashes were spread and I thank Louise, Barry’s wonderful wife, for allowing me the privilege of being there.

Barry Muir could be a typical fiery, cheeky half - what’s your favourite thing about Muir?

Barry had a forceful, emotional approach to his coaching, but always caring and chasing the result he worked for with us. Barry was the only coach I had during my time playing who was also a halfback and I believed in him.  If disagreements cropped up, he was often heard to ask – how many Tests have you played for Australia? 'None Barry!' That was the end of the conversation. My favourite thing about Barry though, is he turned me into a Queenslander within my first year.

1973 and 1975 grand finals didn’t go to plan, did they - you got two tries in the prelim against Easts?

No, they didn’t go to plan but the great shame is that Barry Muir never won that elusive premiership he wanted so much and we wanted to give him so much. 1973 we beat Norths in the minor semi final and then Easts, the reigning premiers, to make the grand final but for Valleys, John McCabe’s tackle of Ron Carige swung the game and that was the end of it. Then 1975 we ran out of time and were coming back at 26-24 when the hooter sounded and spectators rushed onto the field causing a halt to the game. We always thought ‘maybe if’?

Do you still have your two grand final jumpers?

No. Would you believe I don’t have either - but I do have Struddy’s Valley’s jumper from 1973 and Greg Oliphant’s from 1975. My St George jumper from 1965 is sitting quietly, proudly beside them.

1976 you finish playing but don’t leave Redcliffe?

In 1977 there was no coaching accreditation scheme available, so I worked with Barry Muir around Redcliffe running coaching courses arranged via the NSWRL. This was approved by the QRL but by 1980 our state body ran courses with Bob Bax, Barry Muir and then Wayne Bennett in charge of advancement in coach education and qualification. I was a member of the QRL coaching panel for some years and coaching director of Redcliffe juniors for over a decade.

50 years at the Dolphins in a lot of different roles - who is the best Dolphin?

Not a tough question that one! I played against ‘Artie’ in Sydney before moving to Queensland, and then so much later he returned to the Peninsula. He is likely the best! In my game days here, Peter Leis, Bunny Pearce, Bevan Bleakley, Tony Obst and Ian Thinee were some of the many teammates that were wonderful to play alongside. Since then, I have been lucky enough to watch Dolphins players develop from juniors to represent their country and state, such as Petero Civoniceva, Brent Tate, Daly Cherry-Evans, Dane Carlaw and Michael Crocker.

You were a selector for a long time for QRL rep teams - worst decisions are always funnier than the good ones - what’s your worst?

Bob Jones and I always joke about how he said to me what do you think of that No. 9 Cam Smith - when he was 16 - and I said: 'I want to see more of him, I am not convinced yet'.

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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