Project partners Ross Hallett (left) and John Roderick unveil the International Honour Board at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse on Saturday night. Picture: David Lems
Project partners Ross Hallett (left) and John Roderick unveil the International Honour Board at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse on Saturday night. Picture: David Lems

Ipswich’s best to live on in remarkable football project

IT was a historic night that showcased Ipswich's remarkable football history in a way never prepared before.

Fifty-four footballers who played for Ipswich clubs from the 1920s were immortalised with the unveiling of an honour board at Ipswich Knights headquarters on Saturday night.

While Ipswich's incredible football history has been highlighted many times before, including at last year's Encyclopedia of the Socceroo s launch, nothing was as complete as was captured during the latest presentation.

The dedication of project partners John Roderick and Ross Hallett linked together decades of history, all with the spotlight on Ipswich clubs.

Sport has always been central to life in Ipswich.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century the city was among just a few key industrial hubs found around the nation.

Home to the working class, it was a football stronghold.

Eleven of the 54 internationals honoured attended the historic function attended by 200 guests at Bundamba.

They were joined by family members of other footballing greats who built the city's outstanding reputation for commitment and skill.

Ipswich pioneer Alex Gibb paved the way for others to follow when he captained the inaugural Australian team on its 1922 tour of New Zealand.

Playing for Bundamba Athletics then Bundamba Rangers, Gibb was to set the standard in his 14 matches for his country.

During the five decades that followed, Ipswich enjoyed a golden era of success before cashed up Brisbane clubs began poaching our best players.

Other quality footballers continued to represent Australia, including Coalstars "Magnificent Seven'' led by Michelle Sawyers.

Their memory and legacy will live on as their names now take pride of place on the honour board, which will adorn the wall at the Bundamba clubhouse.

The honour board was the brainchild of Roderick, whose father Danny proudly appeared for Australia.

While other efforts to document Ipswich's Australian representatives have been undertaken, they did not acknowledge players who served as reserves but did not take the field.

Having grown up amid Ipswich football's golden age among international stars like his dad, Roderick saw the need to recognise the achievements of all those from the area to earn Aussie recognition.

"In my opinion once you have been selected you are good enough to represent the country," Roderick said.

 

Some of the Ipswich club players who shared in the unveiling of the international honour board at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse. Picture: David Lems
Some of the Ipswich club players who shared in the unveiling of the international honour board at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse. Picture: David Lems

 

Andrew Howe launched his Encyclopedia of Socceroos in Ipswich last year because of the large portion of the then 910 players to have pulled on a national shirt to originate here.

Howe named 33 Socceroos who were born and developed in Ipswich, including 21 to feature in internationals.

He also identified another 12 who played for Australia against top international clubs or regional representative sides in non-A or B internationals, which were the majority of games played before 1960.

Including reserves, the latest project has unearthed considerably more Australian representatives to have received their foundations in the game locally.

Long-term Ipswich Knights clubman Hallett collaborated with Roderick, scouring the internet, Trove, Queensland Times archives and Ipswich Library microfilms for information.

They also looked to those historians with a lifetime involvement in the game to shed light in the form of anecdotal evidence.

Building on previous efforts, they have added seven Coalstars women to the illustrious list.

 

Former Coalstars national women's footballers shared in the unveiling of the international honour board at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse. Pictured are (from left) Belinda Kitching, Teri McQueen, Sonia Gegenhuber, Michelle Sawyers, Kaylene Janssen and Bryony Duus. Picture: David Lems
Former Coalstars national women's footballers shared in the unveiling of the international honour board at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse. Pictured are (from left) Belinda Kitching, Teri McQueen, Sonia Gegenhuber, Michelle Sawyers, Kaylene Janssen and Bryony Duus. Picture: David Lems

 

Hallett said recognition of these players was long overdue and the honour board would record their feats indelibly for the rest of time.

He said 95 per cent or more of them had started out at Ipswich clubs which existed prior to the formation of the Knights in 1998, including St Helens, Coalstars, Blackstone Rovers, Dinmore Bushrats and Bundamba Rangers.

"Most of the men and women played for at least one of these clubs in their junior and senior days," he said.

"There were many well-known players.

"Some of the names will surprise quite a few people.

"It was a huge job.

"There were more than we ever thought possible.

"It will sit there for generations to come."

Look out for the full list of 54 internationals in a feature story this week.



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