100 YEARS: How footy culture nearly came to an end in region
AS SOUTH Burnett Rugby League ticked marked 100 years of competition, a former club president detailed the struggles endured to keep it alive.
The competition started in 1920 when the Murgon Mustangs made history as the first premiership winners against Kingaroy.
Before the A-grade grand final game on Saturday, former South Burnett Rugby League president Brett Otto presented the Murgon Mustangs with a photo of the 1920 winning side.
He said the donated photo had been kept in the family for generations and he believed the region needed rugby league now more than ever.
"When I was a young fella I would come here every Sunday and it would be packed,” Otto said.
"I think it's a vital part of the community to give young people a sport to play in our rural areas.
"It's also important to have a senior competition as well so players can continue with the game as they enter their later years.
"Footy keeps them active and makes them feel like they are part of a community.
"Especially as we continue to face times of drought.
"It's good to come and watch the footy every week, have a few drinks and forget all of the worries for a while.”
The Ottos were a pioneering family in the region and have been involved with local rugby league since its inception in the early 20th century.
However, in the early 2000s the game came to a halt.
The former Murgon Mustangs player said he couldn't imagine the region today without rugby league.
"The competition stopped in the early 2000s due to lack of interest,” Otto said.
"When I was president of South Burnett Junior Rugby League, we decided we needed to get the senior competition started again.
"Billy Moore, myself and a few other people helped reform the competition in 2009 and it's been going ever since.
"We have had so many great players come from the South Burnett over many, many decades.
"It's really important that we up hold the tradition and keep the game going.”
At the 2019 grand final, the Murgon club went on to make history again by claiming the 100th premiership of the competition.
The home side defeated Cherbourg Hornets 28-14 at the Murgon Showgrounds.