“OLD school, loyal, tough and fair”.
They were just some of the apt words used yesterday to describe one of Ipswich's most respected sportsmen, Brian “Chookie” Vogler, who passed away on Wednesday.
As word of Chookie's passing spread around the city, the reaction was similar. Ipswich would miss another of its sporting greats after the recent loss of Ian “Lodger” Lawrie and Gordon “Bunny” Nunn last year.
Aged 76, Chookie passed away at the Gold Coast.
The former Olympic soccer player was of rare sporting pedigree.
He started his versatile sporting career playing Bulimba Cup rugby league in the early 1950s, before switching to soccer, cricket and later bowls.
With the Dinmore Bushrats and Blackstone Rovers, he quickly learnt new skills and kicked on to higher levels.
The left winger went on to represent Australia at the 1956 Olympics along with other Ipswich products Al Warren, Cliff Sander and Col Kitching.
Al's son Wayne recalls being a youngster watching Chookie play at Ebbw Vale when the former Olympian returned to St Helen's as a defender.
Like other elite players in the 1960s, Chookie had previously been lured to the big-spending Brisbane club Hellenic.
“I remember him being a hard, tough competitive player,” said Wayne, who later became Ipswich United club captain and played with Chookie's son Peter.
“It was something characteristic of those days. They gave no quarter and expected none but they played fairly.
“He was very loyal to the people around him and to his football team.”
Former QT soccer writer John Roderick played for Coalstars against Chookie when he was at Hellenic.
“He was a very determined man, a very hard competitor,” Roderick said.
Roderick said the former Hellenic captain carried his competitive streak into sports like cricket, where he played A-grade for Brothers and later Strollers during the summer.
During a six-a-side competition at North Ipswich in the early 1970s, Chookie was involved in a power play with former Queensland coach John Bell.
“Chookie was fielding at mid-off and Bellie hit the ball to him,” Roderick recalls.
“He (Bell) wouldn't go back to the crease and Chookie wouldn't throw the ball back to the bowler until he did.
“There was a verbal stand off.
“But after the game, that was the end of it.”
Brian “Chookie” Vogler was born in Ipswich in 1932, growing up in North Ipswich, attending St Mary's school and becoming a Brothers Old Boy. He worked as a coal miner for 43 years.
Chookie and his wife Margaret, who lived in a big house on Mt Crosby Road at Tivoli for many years, nurtured a fine sporting family.
“He (Brian) was renowned through football circles for aggression and toughness,” said Brett Kitching, from another famous Ipswich sporting clan.
“That was passed down through the family.”
Like his father, Peter “Yowie” Vogler was a feared all-rounder, going on to play soccer for Queensland and representing Australia in baseball.
Preparing for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, tenacious outfielder Peter credited his parents for his international success.
“I'm always competing against myself,” Peter said at the time.
“I have to blame mum and dad for that. They never give in. They're always out to better themselves.”
Other members of the well-known Vogler family reached elite level too.
Anne was an Australian softballer, Christine played netball, Mark was a Norths rugby league player, Gary earnt state baseball honours and played soccer for St Helen's, and Matthew was a representative baseballer and rugby league player.
After finishing his soccer career at St Helen's, Chookie and Margaret retired at the Gold Coast.
However, Chookie's passion for sport continued on the bowls greens where he played pennants for several years.
He started at Booval Bowls Club (now Swifts), where he became president.
Brian “Chookie” Vogler's funeral is at 10am on Tuesday at St Mary's Church, Ipswich.
• If you would like to pay tribute to Chookie Vogler, SMS your thoughts to 0407 088 442, or email the QT at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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