Pictures celebrate rugby history

MEMORIES: Jan Christison sifts through the collection.
MEMORIES: Jan Christison sifts through the collection.

“RUGBY League is everything to Ipswich,” a gruff voiced Noel Kelly says as he reflects on the game’s 100-year history in the mining town.

This year marks the century of rugby league in Ipswich and the game will be celebrated with a photographic essay at the Ipswich Art Gallery next weekend which heavily features league legends like Kelly.

The exhibition is being put together by Brassall league historians Bob and Jan Christison.

The couple’s photos bare no dust and date back to 1910, where smiles were rarer than Dud Beattie walking away from a fight.

Beattie was part of the all-Ipswich Australian front-row in the late 1950’s that featured fellow west Brisbane bruisers Noel Kelly and Gary Parcell who dominated the Bulimba Cup.

Kelly is the archetype old-school footballer.

He now lives in Sydney, but the former Goodna butcher still recalls his days in the Bulimba Cup playing for Brothers as some of his life’s best.

“It was a great time of my life, and the Bulimba Cup was a hard comp,” he said.

“Ipswich will always be league territory I think; the game has too proud a history in the city.”

The Queensland Times also played a large part in the success of league in Ipswich.

One the best players in the early years of Ipswich rugby league was Charles Scott, who was also a QT reporter.

Scott fought for his country in World War I.

A decorated soldier, he made lieutenant in November 1917 but unfortunately died one week later.

In the earlier years rugby league ran on the smell of hard work alone.

Before sponsors and television revenue, Ipswich men like Gov Clark mortgaged their house to pay for the construction of North Ipswich Reserve.

“It’s actually easier to get hold of photos 80 years old than some of the ones taken this decade,” Ms Christison said.

“They either don’t bother taking proper team photos in competitions in the IRL or they can’t find them.”

You can view the results of the Christisons’ hard work when the incredible exhibition runs at the Ipswich art Gallery on April 17 and 18.

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