'Moreton Bay Dolphins deserve to be the next NRL side'
I can't see the point in rewarding Ipswich with a new NRL club licence.
Ipswich already has a club in the NRL. It's called the Broncos.
Ipswich is inextricably linked to the Brisbane Broncos through names like Allan Langer and Kevin and Kerrod Walters.
Alfie Langer is a Bronco for life and Kevin Walters isn't going anywhere either.
The historic city founded on coal and limestone mining is linked to Milton station at Suncorp Stadium by a train ride that takes about the same time as it does for Alfie to read the Courier-Mail form guides and place a few bets. Geographically, Ipswich if Brisbane and Brisbane is Ipswich.
Urban sprawl has seen to that.
Sure, the Ipswich Jets have a proud league history, and so do many regional towns in Queensland. I have great fondness for Ipswich, but I think it should be pitching for a new visual and performing arts centre before an NRL franchise.
Many Broncos club members have Ipswich postcodes, so creating a new team there would cannibalise the Broncos for no good reason.
Here I should declare that I am a proud member of the club and a member of the Broncos Leagues Club, and I like nothing better than swigging a XXXX or two in the Allan Langer lounge bar and admiring the Langer memorabilia before heading to a leisurely lunch in the grill room.
Selfishly, I do not want the upstart Jets to spoil my party, so I reckon the Ipswich bid should be drop-kicked into the Never-Never.
Ridiculously, Ipswich bid backers are even suggesting their inaugural coach will be Wayne Bennett. That kind of talk is akin to rearranging the furniture before you have bought the house.
I'm also sceptical of the preposterous bid by the mob calling itself Brisbane Firehawks, who are linked to the East Tigers.
Again, I ask, why should another CBD team be allowed to surf in and cannibalise the Broncos' membership?
If I was on the selection panel I would quickly send the Firehawks for an early shower.
So that leaves only one club worthy of wearing the NRL's 17th jersey, and that club is the Dolphins.
It's a marvellous club with a wonderful community spirit, as I discovered after inviting myself to Redcliffe to meet Terry Reader, the Dolphins' gun strategist who worked for years with the Broncos before switching to the Brisbane Lions, only to be lured back to the Broncos.
Reader is a sports industry professional who worked as a consultant to Manchester United and Manchester City, Chelsea, a FIFA World Cup and the Ryder Cup during his days in London.
"We are NRL-ready. We could start tomorrow," said Reader.
With assets of $100 million and an annual turnover of over $30 million, the Dolphins can provide the financial security the NRL will be looking for.
There is a prosperous leagues club with 40,000 members, a large aquatic centre and gymnasium, a 10,000-seat stadium with offices, another gym and changing rooms and meeting rooms.
As well, the Dolphins own a commercial centre with shops, a supermarket and rows of professional offices.
"And there is plenty of room for expansion," said Reader, pointing to vacant land beyond the training ovals.
The Redcliffe Dolphins club, as it morphs into the Moreton Bay Dolphins, has a proud 74-year history producing players of the stature of Petero Civoniceva, Arthur Beetson, Brent Tate, Michael Crocker, Benji Marshall, Matt Lodge Wally Fullerton-Smith, Chris Close, Steve Bax, Gavin Cooper, John Ribot and Kotoni Staggs.
Today, the Dolphins have nearly 800 registered players and 40 junior teams from under six to under 18.
"The Dolphins first-grade team played in the Brisbane Rugby League competition from 1960, joining the Queensland Cup when it started in 1996," Reader said.
"To date the Dolphins are the most successful Queensland Cup club, appearing in 11 Grand Finals and winning six premierships since 1996.''
Dolphins chairman Bob Jones and CEO Tony Murphy praised the efforts of former Moreton Bay mayor Allan Sutherland in convincing his council to help fund the stadium.
Sutherland said the Dolphins helped unify the new city created after the amalgamation of the Redcliffe, Caboolture and Pine Rivers councils.
He said the Moreton Bay Regional Council was the third largest council in Australia, behind Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and the population was set to soar from 470,000 to 700,000 in two decades.
Reader said the NRL Dolphins catchment would overlap the Sunshine Coast and northern Brisbane suburbs to create a proud club bigger than many already in the NRL.
The Sunshine Coast was the fourth biggest local government area, and growing.
"It's hard to get people to understand how big the Moreton Bay-Sunshine Coast corridor is," said Reader.
The Dolphins have some big guns backing their bid, including local federal member and minister Peter Dutton.
Back at the league clubs the steaks are sizzling and a country and western band is in full swing. The crowd is loving it. It's hardly gone midday and more than 50 members are already twirling around the dancefloor.
Originally published as Moreton Bay Dolphins deserve to be Qld's next NRL side