Ray remembers tackling Dragons
IT IS 60 years since Elbow Valley farmer Ray Schnitzerling played for a Warwick team which went down 28-10 to the Dragons from Sydney.
He will catch up with some old mates and watch a Warwick Cowboys game for the first time when he heads to Father Ranger Oval on Saturday for the arrival of the St George Illawarra Dragons from Sydney and Wollongong who will be in town as part of the NRL One Community Adopt A Club Program.
Schnitzerling remembers riding a bike from Thane to Warwick for rugby league training in the late 1940s but said by 1951 he “sort of” had a car.
He remembers the game at the Warwick Showgrounds as if it was yesterday.
Johnny Hawke was a Kangaroos player and was five-eighth for the Dragons while Test legend Norm Provan was in the pack.
His best memory was coming across from centre to tackle Dragons winger Ron Roberts on the grandstand side at the Warwick Showgrounds.
“I dived at him, grabbed one leg which was enough to put him in touch,” Schnitzerling said.
“Ron dragged me a few yards, looked at me, I let him go and he grabbed my jersey and lifted me up.
"He had a laugh and the crowd roared.”
Schnitzerling remembers his team well and speaks of the outstanding tackling of Warwick player Cyril Ivey.
“Cyril was our player of the match,” Schnitzerling said.
A highlight of the Warwick game against St George Dragons in 1951 was the footrace from goal to goal.
Schnitzerling remembers a lot of players being close at the finish.
“I was about half an inch (12mm) behind the winner,” he said.
Earlier, he remembered going to training one night and hearing talk about a St George visit.
“My mates were talking about the distance and I suggested it wasn’t that far as St George was only a bit west of Tara,” he said.
It was in fact the legendary St George club from Sydney heading to Warwick for an end of season trip, not the team from South West Queensland.
After his game against the Dragons, Schnitzerling played again for East Warwick in 1952 but received a kick in a tackle and “lost” a kidney.
He was in hospital for four months and remembers being told by doctors and nursing staff he must not play footy again.
At the time, he was specialled by nurse Mary Keogh (nee Wallace) and she will also be at Father Ranger Oval on Saturday for the arrival of the Dragons side.
He kept his promise not to play again, tried refereeing but decided it wasn’t for him.
After meeting his future wife Claire, he didn’t return to watch senior footy so Saturday’s games will be his first for almost 60 years.
While some might think playing the Dragons would be his highlight, Schnitzerling lists a junior game at the Gabba before an Australia/France Test and the chance to sit on the sideline for the Test as his greatest memory.