REUNION: 40-year anniversary for winning Stags

29th September 2017 5:51 PM
THE BOYS ARE BACK: Front (from left) Ricky Bemrose, Bunny Laherty, captain-coach Mike Burns, Ross Kapernick, Rod Dennis, Peter McCauley, (back from left) David Ballin, Keith Collins, Stewart Annan, Glen Yeates, Wally Dugdell, Ray Hockey, Dave O'Connor, Neil Strack and Des McCallum. Absent: Neil Laherty, Mike Friske, Darryl Schilf and Les Neill. THE BOYS ARE BACK: Front (from left) Ricky Bemrose, Bunny Laherty, captain-coach Mike Burns, Ross Kapernick, Rod Dennis, Peter McCauley, (back from left) David Ballin, Keith Collins, Stewart Annan, Glen Yeates, Wally Dugdell, Ray Hockey, Dave O'Connor, Neil Strack and Des McCallum. Absent: Neil Laherty, Mike Friske, Darryl Schilf and Les Neill. Contributed

RUGBY LEAGUE: The 1977 South Burnett Rugby League premiership was taken out by Nanango over minor premiers Kingaroy at Wondai.

The winning team reunited on Sunday at the Nanango Stags club to share stories of their glory days and the time since.

The event was organised by a number of the team's players, among them 1977 club secretary and team full-back David Ballin.

"It has been 40 years andwe thought it would be agood milestone,” Ballin said.

"It was a very good day.”

There were 15 of the players at the reunion as well as game referee Ron Mason and '77 club president Barry Green.

Each player was asked to say a few words at the gathering.

Father Dave O'Connor was a second-rower in the team and said a prayer and held a minute's silence for those who had passed on.

Some players at the reunion had not been back to the South Burnett region for 40 years.

The players reminisced about their days in the team.

"There was a great sense of camaraderie and spirit in the team,” Ballin said.

"We challenged ourselves and did it for each other and it was good fun.

"It was an important event for us as young fellas.”

The men were in their teens and 20s while playing and many were part of the Nanango team that won the reserve-grade premiership in the previous year.

The side was coached by Jim Duncan for a few matches before Mike Burns took over.

An important aspect of Burns' training routine was fitness and the team regularly ran up the Hospital Hill in Nanango as a warm-up.

The competition they played in was very different to today's, according to former president Green, with 10 teams in the South Burnett competition.

"It was massive,” he said.

"The standard of football in those day was incredible and I think it's on its way back.”

Dave Brown was a member of the Kingaroy team and went on to play rugby league for Australia.

The Nanango team was not able to repeat their performance in 1978.

"Nanango came up against Wondai in the grand final and got the biggest touch-up you have ever seen,” Green said.

"They were put in their place that is for sure.”

The players have vowed tomeet up again in five years.