Goodna family legacy inspires prop's quest
THE link between past and present is a constant lifeblood of rugby league and for evidence of that look no further than Goodna Eagles prop Zac Lemberg and his grandfather Joe Richardson.
Lemberg will take the field for Goodna against Fassifern in Saturday's Ipswich A Grade grand final with his proud grandfather, and Order of Australia recipient, watching on.
Richardson played for Goodna and was club president and patron for years in a lifelong involvement with the club. His father Joe also played for the club and had official roles.
Talk to 26-year-old Lemberg and you soon realise that as he has got older his appreciation for the rich history at Goodna has deepened.
Ipswich author Lyle Reed's 2012 book 'A Century of Black and Blue' dates the Goodna and District Rugby League Football Club back to 1912.
The men who will run out for Goodna on Saturday would not be where they are today without the efforts of the Old Boys, a fact Lemberg recognises.
"There are not too many places that have supporters like ours and Old Boys like we do,” Lemberg says as he gazes across Woogaroo Field, Goodna's field of dreams.
"When the Old Boys sit in the can bar and we are lucky enough to get a win and we go up and see them, they just love us.
"There are a lot of new clubs in Brisbane that don't have that, but our Old Boys really make it easy to come and play here.”
Lemberg, a former Broncos under 20 and Intrust Super Cup player with Redcliffe and Souths-Logan, is also now proud to carry on the legacy of his grandfather and great grandfather, two Old Boys dear to his heart.
"When I was 17 or 18 I had a season with Brothers,” Lemberg says.
"I probably didn't understand when I was younger the relationship our family had with the club here. I didn't really get it.
"But as the years went on and I learned more and more, I realised how much grandad had done with the Goodna club, and his father and brother as well.
"My uncle Ray was also a very good footballer in his day and played first grade here as well. I always knew grandad had a lot to do with the community in Goodna, but not so much the footy side.
"Those stories came out when he started to quieten down with his work. Then I found out how much the footy club was part of the family.”
Richardson played for Goodna from under 14s until he won a premiership with the club in 1955, not in first division but a title all the same.
He recalls a club where the players all pitched in to help and battled against the odds.
"We were always at the end of Ipswich of course,” he recalls.
"The bus stopped at the Kerwick Hotel at Redbank. It didn't bother coming to Goodna.
"So we were always a team that struggled for money and for blokes.
"The ground wasn't level in those days. You'd have a working bee with a few blokes and a few machines, and we'd level it.
"The field only had lights on one side and the change room was a 12 by 12 canvas tent.
"We couldn't afford many oranges, so we'd cut them up and at half-time you'd have a quarter each.”
Richardson's career ended at 21. Young by today's standards, but he had his reasons.
"I got married and started a business,” he grins.
"Then 58 years later I sold it.”
That business, J & P Richardson Industries, became the biggest privately owned electrical contractor in Australia.
"I sold it to a big French company in February of last year,” Richardson says
"We had 550 employees. A lot of people in Ipswich worked for us and something like 700 apprentices served their time with us.”
Richardson was awarded an OAM for his work training apprentices.
Although not involved in any official capacity with the Eagles today, he also admires the work the club has done to unite a community and provide the region's youth with direction.
"The way they run the club now is disciplined, and they are bringing discipline to kids,” Richardson says.
"It is really good.
"I love the mix of kids that are playing. Zac has brought some lovely young fellas to home from different countries with different views on life.
"It is just good for the community generally.”
Last year Richardson was on hand to watch Zac and the Eagles triumph in the A Grade grand final over Brothers.
He was proud that day, and has an abiding admiration for his grandson's play.
"I like his guts attitude,” Richardson says.
"His defence is excellent.
"I suggested to him many times in his early days that he go and get some running training, because he is not a speedster, but he makes up for it in other ways.
"I am very, very, very, very proud of him.
"One of my proudest days was grand final day last year in Ipswich, to hug him at the end of the game. I don't cry too often, but I had tears in my eyes that day.”