A boost for league clubs
WHILE the Dragons Legends game at Father Ranger Oval on Saturday is about raising funds for three flood-ravaged clubs, it is also about renewing a long association between the Dragons and the Warwick and District area.
The St George Dragons presented a cup for Warwick and District Rugby League competition in 1951.
The inscription on the cup is “St George Rugby League Cup 1951, Presented by A.E. Laws Esq, Director of St George. For competition by teams in the Warwick Amateur Rugby League”.
The cup was first contested in 1952 and Allora is the first name inscribed on a cup which has pride of place at the Warwick Cowboys clubhouse.
Warwick-based club Collegians won in 1953, Stanthorpe was victorious for the first time in 1956 and then Pittsworth won its first premiership in A grade in 1960.
Clifton won its only cup in 1965, Tenterfield was on the cup for the first time in 1966 and then Texas in 1972.
Goondiwindi won for the first time in 1976 and then Eastern Suburbs (Warwick) in the last year, 1985.
Former Collegians and Warwick Cowboys player Bob Bennett is coach for the home side on Saturday and coached Collegians to premiership victories in three of the last four years of the St George Cup.
His brother Wayne, the Dragons Legends coach, also played in the St George Cup competition.
While the visit in June and the one this weekend by the St George Illawarra Dragons NRL club is about helping the rugby league and town community in the aftermath of the flood, event co-ordinator Glen Whitton is hoping more Legends games could be played every two years.
“Visits like this are great for country football,” Whitton said.
“We are hoping early in 2013 to have a Dragons game against Brisbane at Father Ranger Oval in the pre season or even a game involving Newcastle.”
Whitton said in future Dragons visits, he hoped to focus on “coaching the coaches” so as to help coaches in the area as well as well as the junior players.
Dragons Legends captain David Barnhill said the game on Saturday was the first in the country for his side.
“Once it is up and running (after Saturday), we hope to play games in different areas of New South Wales and Queensland to fly the Dragons flag, which will be good for the game,” Barnhill said.
While organisers hoped some of the Dragons players from the 1940s and 1950s, including immortals Johnny Raper and Graeme Langlands, would be in Warwick this weekend, none are able to come.
Former international Steve Edge will be MC at the Legends dinner on Friday night, where he will interview a number of players, including Mark Riddell and Shaun Timmins from the Dragons.
State of Origin original and Test player Rohan Hancock (Killarney) and Toowoomba and Australian five-eighth Johnny Gleeson (Chinchilla) will also be interviewed on the night.
The dinner is expected to attract a capacity crowd of more than 300 to The Scots PGC College Dining Hall.
Many guests will be from out of town, keen to catch up with players from one of the most popular NRL clubs.