Former international rugby player and racing stalwart Jeff McLean and his family hold a precise place in Ipswich sporting and pub life history. Picture: QT file
Former international rugby player and racing stalwart Jeff McLean and his family hold a precise place in Ipswich sporting and pub life history. Picture: QT file

Revealed: Top five in 34 Ipswich sporting dynasties

OVER the decades, the Ipswich region has produced some of Australia's leading sporting empires.

Some of these have been showcased in previous packages this week. The quality of family connections and commitment to their sport has been exceptional.

In today's final instalment of a six-part series, the top five are revealed.

 

PART  5: In the top 10 selections

PART 4: Iconic Ipswich families

PART 3: Tackling major challenges

PART 2: Great commitment to sport

PART 1: Super seven

5. VOGLER family: Tough international traits

FIERCELY competitive father-son sportsmen Brian and Peter Vogler were synonymous with Ipswich tenacity.

In many ways on the field they were the same. In other attributes off the field, they were so different.

Brian, nicknamed Chookie, avoided the limelight after his incredible feats in soccer. He died in 2009, aged 76.

Peter, better known as Yowie, was a monster performer who loved being the centre of attention whether playing or partying.

Both achievers became Olympians.

Chookie represented Australia in soccer where he was regarded as one of the region's best footballers in the post-war era.

He was part of the national team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

Ipswich football great Brian Vogler’s farewell.
Ipswich football great Brian Vogler’s farewell.

The former Blackstone Rovers, Bushrats and St Helens footballer represented Australia 13 times from 1956-59. He received Socceroos cap 158 after scoring nine goals for his country.

His nickname Chookie came playing farmyard in the school grounds at St Mary's prep. All the children had to pick an animal. Brian chose a chook.

"Little did he know as a five-year-old that he picked the name that would stay with him for the rest of his life,'' daughter Anne said, reading the eulogy at his funeral.

Chookie started his versatile sporting career playing Bulimba Cup rugby league in the early 1950s, before switching to soccer, cricket and later bowls.

The former coal miner battled cancer in the final stages of his exceptional life.

He was remembered as being "old school, loyal and fair''.

While Chookie turned to bowls after his soccer career, Peter remained an Ipswich sporting icon.

He became a state football representative and dual baseball Olympian.

Ipswich United striker Peter
Ipswich United striker Peter "Yowie'' Vogler was always feared by opponents on a sports field. Picture: QT file

Peter lined up for Australia at the 1988 Seoul Games, where baseball was a demonstration sport, and again at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

He also made the 1988 World All-Star team.

The source of his nickname Yowie has been modified in different stories over the years. However, one of the most accurate versions is he temporarily got lost hopping off a bus on a sporting tour and his mates said he was like a Yowie wandering around.

Peter was arguably Ipswich's most feared sportsmen during his many years representing Ipswich in both sports.

Peter Vogler
Peter Vogler

The Musketeers stalwart could perform any role asked of him. He was a powerful left-handed batter with a strong arm in the centre field. Catchers were in danger when Yowie slid in to complete a run.

He regularly starred for the Brisbane Bandits and Gold Coast Cougars during 400 national league matches. He was also a leader in Queensland's Claxton Shield successes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Peter shared in Musketeers four consecutive grand final victories in Brisbane Major League competition in the late 1980s.

In 2016, he was inducted into the Australian Baseball Hall of Fame.

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.

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.

Anne Vogler
Anne Vogler

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.

Matriarch Margret was a wonderful supporter of the different sporting pursuits, especially at the baseball where she was a popular figure during Ipswich Musketeers matches.

 

 

 

 

Bichel brothers Wayne and Andy both enjoyed international careers.
Bichel brothers Wayne and Andy both enjoyed international careers.

4. BICHEL/TAZELAAR families: Fierce country competitiveness

A QUEENSLAND All-Star team to match the best in Australia could be assembled from the Bichel and Tazelaar family bloodlines over many decades.

In 1997, the well-known family had Bichel Oval named in their honour at Laidley's Culture Centre.

Andy, Wayne, Doug and Trevor were among the Bichel men to regularly dominate headlines over the years.

However, the "Bichel belles'' were just as superior in sports like softball, indoor cricket, vigoro, basketball and netball.

Bichel-bred sisters Denise Tazelaar and Lyn O'Sullivan reached state and international level in their sports growing up in Lowood.

Denise and Lyn were recently named in Ipswich vigoro's 90th anniversary team.

Ipswich sporting couple Dick and Denise Tazelaar
Ipswich sporting couple Dick and Denise Tazelaar

Denise, who married Queensland cricket stalwart Dick Tazelaar, was a talented bowler and batter.

She was a great reader of the game, applying her inherited fierce competitiveness to help secure her Hawks club side multiple premierships.

Multiple premiership winner Denise Tazelaar
Multiple premiership winner Denise Tazelaar

Lyn, who married sporting all-rounder Darryl O'Sullivan, was also an accomplished bowler and batter. She was an admired leader who played the game by the rules but with intense determination.

"We gave as much as we got. We didn't mind mixing it with them,'' Denise said about having to compete with the Bichel men like Andy, Trevor, Don, Doug, Cliff, Mick and Henry.

Other Bichel/Tazelaar women to excel in their sporting endeavours included international softball umpire Patricia and Colleen, who was a standout in tennis, netball, athletics and softball.

They were daughters of Mick Bichel.

Mick's brother Don was a former Sheffield Shield cricketer. His daughters were Leanne Binnie, Kerrilyn Hoger and Janelle Anderson.

The trio reached state or national level in softball, with Janelle also making state basketball and netball sides.

Trevor and Shirley Bichel's daughters Tracey Muller, Lynda Bichel and Julie Bichel excelled in indoor cricket, tennis or touch in the Lockyer Valley/Gatton area.

Remarkably, five Bichels played in the same Hawks vigoro side - Denise, Lyn, Jenny Sabburg, Diane Staatz and Gayle Burrows.

Denise credited grandfather Henry, a former Australian rugby league player, for establishing the Bichel sporting empire.

Henry and wife Elsie built a concrete cricket pitch in their backyard, along with a tennis court on their 480 acre dairy and small crops farm at Prenzlau - between Minden and Hatton Vale.

"Because we came from sporting backgrounds, we just naturally followed through and we enjoyed sport,'' Denise said.

Denise and Lyn's father Doug and his sporting wife Beryl bought the Prenzlau property when Henry died.

Lyn also has fond memories of the many backyard Bichel battles where up to 50 family members padded up.

"We'd all sit along the veranda railings or on the tank stand,'' Lyn said.

"The ball would either go in the dam for six or occasionally crash through the windows. And they hit them in the pig sty. It was good.''

 

Laidley cricketing great Andy Bichel
Laidley cricketing great Andy Bichel

 

In later years, it would be the Bichel men who also gained international attention.

Laidley-bred Andy featured prominently with Dick Tazelaar in Queensland's historic 1995 Sheffield Shield drought-breaking victory.

Both were Queensland cricket stalwarts with Andy going on to play 19 Tests and 67 One Day Internationals for Australia between 1997 and 2004.

Andy recalls how Doug - who used to bat without gloves - once hit four sixes and two fours in an eight-ball Slade Shield match playing for Lockyer Valley.

Another of Andy's uncles Don represented Queensland in the Sheffield Shield as an offspinner.

Andy's dad Trevor was an all-rounder in the Lockyer cricket competition.

Cousin Graham, who still plays veterans cricket, was a former Laidley/Ranges captain.

Andy's older brother Wayne also carved out a high level indoor cricket career.

 

Wayne Bichel
Wayne Bichel

Wayne and his Boonah-bred wife Leanne are playing leading roles developing the Ipswich Hornets women's program in the Queensland Premier Grade competition.

They have also worked tirelessly fostering junior cricket in the Ipswich area.

Andy's younger brother Robbie was a talented rugby league player.

Rob was a durable Jets footballer who lined up in 35 Intrust Super Cup games for Ipswich from 1996-98.

Rob won the Ipswich Jets Player of the Year award in 1996.

He now spends his time managing the Gatton Hawks A-Grade side that played in the recent Volunteers Cup series.

The Bichel football connection continues with Gatton's A-Grade side through Rob's son Oliver.

 

 

Jeff McLean also appreciated his family’s proud life from the Central Hotel in the CBD to the Coronation Hotel at West Ipswich. Picture: QT file
Jeff McLean also appreciated his family’s proud life from the Central Hotel in the CBD to the Coronation Hotel at West Ipswich. Picture: QT file

3. MCLEAN family: Generations of international players serving city

IT'S fitting that an Ipswich sport and pub dynasty started at the Central Hotel in Nicholas Street before the Second World War.

Seven members of the McLean family, across four generations, have represented Australia in rugby union or rugby league.

Alexander Douglas "AD'' McLean, grandfather of well known Ipswich rugby internationals Jeff and Paul McLean, started in all in the CBD.

AD instigated what would become more than 60 years of pub life for the McLeans.

Jeff and Paul's parents Bob and Irene continued the Central Hotel tradition before Jeff and his wife Carmel relocated to the sports hub known as the Coronation Hotel in West Ipswich.

Sport and pub life went hand-in-hand for Jeff, who played rugby for Australia like his granddad.

Having Jeff recently honoured with a prized viewing area named after him at the Ipswich Turf Club was a fitting gesture - 10 years after the former Coronation Hotel publican's passing.

Jeff, who died in 2010, was always a welcoming face at the turf club on race days and for functions.

The Jeffrey J McLean Room high up in the main grandstand will provide a timely reminder of his 35 year commitment to racing, his decades of service in the hotel industry and his contribution to multiple sports including rugby and racing.

Supported by wife Carmel and children Bridget and David, Jeff made the "Coro'' a focal point for sportspeople to share a beer and endless stories.

As a rugby Wallaby, Jeff represented Australia 13 times in rugby from 1971-74.

The winger's final international game was against the All Blacks. That was also the international debut of his younger brother Paul.

Jeff's grandfather Doug Snr started the family tradition playing rugby against New Zealand in 1902.

Doug played for Australia from 1902-04 as a centre until breaking from union and bringing rugby league to Queensland in 1908.

From then, he played league exclusively while his sons, born and bred in Ipswich pursued rugby.

Oldest son Doug Jnr played with the Wallabies against South Africa in 1933 before breaking away from union to play league for the Kangaroos against England in 1937 and 1938.

Jeff's uncle Bill captained the 1947 and 1948 Wallabies teams in five Tests against England., immediately after World War II.

His uncle Jack went to New Zealand in the 1946 side while his father Bob played union at grade level in Brisbane and league in Ipswich until a broken leg forced him from the competition.

Jeff and Paul became the next generation, playing for Queensland before progressing to the Wallabies.

 

Jeff McLean
Jeff McLean

Educated at St Edmund's College, Jeff played from 1969-74 until a broken leg forced him to retire.

He played in 13 Tests and 49 games for Queensland. His funeral at St Mary's Catholic Church on August 11, 2010 was one of the largest attended in Ipswich in many years.

Jeff was 63, having courageously battled a throat cancer for 18 months.

He had been a patron at Ipswich Rangers Rugby Union club for 20 years, joining the turf club in the latest 1980s.

Jeff's wife Carmel is still a familiar face around the Ipswich community.

 

The Coronation Hotel was a family affair with David, Carmel, Bridget and Jeff McLean behind the bar. Picture: QT file
The Coronation Hotel was a family affair with David, Carmel, Bridget and Jeff McLean behind the bar. Picture: QT file

Jeff and Carmel's daughter Bridget has been a tenacious Wests and Swifts hockey player for many years, making representative teams.

Like his brother Jeff, Paul played for the Ipswich Rangers before joining Brothers in Brisbane.

He was a world-class goalkicker, capped 31 times between 1974 and 1982 at fullback or fly half.

 

Paul McLean
Paul McLean

In his 1982 farewell international season, Paul smashed his own point scoring record with 21 points from five penalties and three conversions in the Second Test against Scotland.

Paul retired from competition rugby in 1982 after 43 tests and 100 games for Queensland. He was recently appointed Rugby Australia chairman.

 

Paul McLean in full kicking flight
Paul McLean in full kicking flight

Cousin Peter McLean played lock in 22 Tests and 64 games for Queensland. He was the sixth McLean to play Test rugby.

Peter's dad Bill had earlier captained the Wallabies in the wake of World War II and his uncle Jack toured with the Wallabies in 1946.

Although he didn't play for Australia, Jeff and Paul's father Bob played Brisbane grade rugby and rugby league in Ipswich.

 

 

2. KITCHING family: Still creating history

AN encyclopedia could easily be compiled about Ipswich's famous Kitching family.

A number of Kitchings have attracted state and national attention over the decades, mainly for their football and racing exploits.

Among the younger generation still creating history is Alex Kitching.

Aged 28 in 2018, Alex become the youngest Chief Greyhound Stipendary Steward with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

Like his predecessors, the former Ipswich Grammar School student also played football with the Ipswich Knights and Ipswich City Bulls.

 

Racing Queensland steward Alex Kitching
Racing Queensland steward Alex Kitching

 

One of his most memorable moments was sharing in Ipswich's 2008 under-21 grand final victory with the Knights. Alex became a fourth generation Kitching to win a major title when the Knights defeated Brisbane Athletic 3-1 in extra time.

The attacking midfielder treasured a set of nine-carat gold cufflinks engraved "AK'' that belonged to his great grandfather Alexander "AK'' Kitching.

Alexander had the cufflinks specially made in honour of his 1937/38 premiership and Tristram Cup successes for Bundamba Rangers.

Alexander's son Spencer and grandson Brett followed in AK's footsteps, also winning premierships.

Spencer represented Bundamba, Azurri, Newcastle and Australia, winning a premiership with Bundamba Rangers in 1957. He was also part of the unbeaten Rangers team that won the Tristram Shield in 1956.

Brett savoured Ipswich United's 1985 grand final/premiership glory.

That was Ipswich's first premiership since Brett's dad had enjoyed his 1957 triumph.

The extended Kitching family is rich in historic feats.

Alexander "Buller" Kitching represented Queensland in 1932, before George "Fat" Kitching became the first family member to secure Australian honours in 1938.

George played for Bundamba Rangers, Blackstone and St Helens.

He lined up for Queensland against New Zealand, an English XI, India, Maccabi Tel Aviv and a Chinese XI between 1933 and 1941.

George was also a noted boxer, on the undercard for the Queensland welterweight title fight in 1936.

He captained the all-conquering Rangers side to a Tristam Shield victory in 1946.

Former Olympic footballer Col Kitching. Picture: Saggin Giulio
Former Olympic footballer Col Kitching. Picture: Saggin Giulio

Col and Spencer also went on to represent Australia.

Col, who also played for Bundamba Rangers, represented Australia in seven games, serving his country at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

He was selected for Queensland aged 19.

In a 1961 match against Fiji, he scored eight goals.

Spencer also played for Bundamba Rangers, from 1955-59. He lined up in 21 games for Australia.

Ipswich football great Spencer Kitching
Ipswich football great Spencer Kitching

Col, Spencer and cousin Keith played junior football together, progressing into the senior ranks representing Ipswich and winning many premierships.

Keith's sons Darryl and his brother Mark represented Ipswich in football and Queensland in basketball.

 

Three generations of Ipswich footballers: Col Kitching with son Jon and grandson Shaun. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Three generations of Ipswich footballers: Col Kitching with son Jon and grandson Shaun. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Various Kitching grandkids, like Jay, Shaun, William and Matthew, had stints with the Ipswich City Bulls, Western Spirit, the Knights and most recently Western Pride.

"Jay very well knows his grandfather Col's feats and my boys know my dad and Col's feats," Darryl said.

"It's amazing that back from the 1950s are still inspiring people today."

George Kitching's granddaughter Belinda also represented Australia in women's football.

Growing up in a busy double storey house at Bundamba, Belinda produced many outstanding performances for Coalstars on her way to representing Queensland and making her international debut against Japan in 1996.

Former Australian goalkeeper Belinda Kitching
Former Australian goalkeeper Belinda Kitching

Belinda represented Australia 32 times, including at the 1999 World Cup before retiring as a player. She was with the Queensland Academy of Sport from 1993-99, lining up for the Queensland Sting side in the national league competition.

Injury denied Belinda a chance to represent Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, forcing her to retire still aged just 22.

Col's son Jon and Spencer's sons Brett and Murray represented Ipswich in the 1980s. They had strong ties with Ipswich United and Coalstars over the years. The trio played in the state league between 1979 and 1982.

In 1981-82, while in Townsville, Brett played against Jon and Murray, who were still in the Ipswich side.

Fifth generation Kitching family member Brett is also the highly successful Ipswich Turf Club general manager who has helped develop record Ipswich Cup attendances.

For the past 16 years, Kitching has lobbied hard for the turf club, helping secure its financial future and deliver a massive $25 million redevelopment, along with ongoing track improvements.

 

 

 

Kevin Walters with parents Sandra and Kev Snr
Kevin Walters with parents Sandra and Kev Snr

1. WALTERS family: Backyard better than homework to become the best

IT says a lot about their love of sport when the five Walters brothers rarely did their homework so they could play footy.

Often referred to as the "Pride of Swifts'', it was Kevin, Kerrod, Steve, Andrew and Brett who created history a number of times.

In 1985, the siblings united in a rare feat. They all became players from the same Ipswich club to secure Queensland under-18 honours.

In later years, Kevin, Kerrod and Steve would share in historic international milestones - like all being selected in the 1992 Australian squad for the three-week Kangaroo tour to England.

Ever popular Kevin remains the current face of the Walters family after finally being offered the Broncos head coaching role.

Since retiring as one of Australia's rugby league greats, the former Ipswich Jets coach has been active as Queensland State of Origin coach and commentator before that.

One of his greatest strengths as a rugby league player was his attacking versatility, able to inspire his team at five-eighth or halfback. He will be remembered as the player who dethroned Queensland's King Wally Lewis in his first season at the Broncos.

 

Kerrod Walters
Kerrod Walters

His twin Kerrod still makes regular appearances on various programs offering comment on footy topics.

Kevin, Kerrod and their other brothers Steve, Andrew and Brett used to imitate their idols during countless mock Test matches in the East Ipswich backyard of their parents Kev and Sandra.

Steve represented Australia too, injecting his own personality into Queensland State of Origin and other footy roles since playing his last game in 1999.

The former Canberra Raider was once regarded as the world's best hooker, often challenged by Kerrod in bids to make Queensland and Australian sides.

Andrew and Brett were also accomplished footballers who had stints with the Brisbane Broncos, highlighting the family's competitive nature and commitment to sport.

Kevin attended East Ipswich State School, Bremer High and Ipswich Grammar School, playing for Booval Swifts before going onto the Ipswich Jets in 1986, Canberra (1987-89) and finishing his NRL career at the Broncos.

The 1990/91 Ipswich Sportstar of the Year represented Queensland 23 times between 1989 and 1999, and played 11 matches for Australia.

He coached the Ipswich Jets to the Queensland Cup finals in 2007 before accepting an opportunity with the Catalans Dragons professional club in France. Kevin later became assistant to Melbourne Storm mentor Craig Bellamy before his Queensland State of Origin and latest Broncos roles.

 

Kevin and Kerrod Walters playing for the Brisbane Broncos
Kevin and Kerrod Walters playing for the Brisbane Broncos

Kerrod was always a personable sportsman, happy to share his highs and lows, even during the tumultuous Super League era when he moved to Adelaide.

The 1988/89 Sportstar of the Year lived in the city for many years after playing baseball for the Ipswich Musketeers and rugby league for the Ipswich Jets on his way to international honours in that sport.

He lived in an old Queenslander on Warwick Road for a number of years after growing up at his family's famous home at East Ipswich.

After playing for the Ipswich Jets, he represented the Brisbane Broncos in 181 matches (1988-96) before stints with the Adelaide Rams (1997-98), Gateshead Thunder (1999) and finishing back at the Broncos.

The hooker lined up in seven games for Queensland and eight matches for Australia, where he made his debut in 1989.

 

A magnificent moment for Ipswich and the Walters family when Kevin, Kerrod and Steve were all picked to tour with the Australian team. Picture: QT file
A magnificent moment for Ipswich and the Walters family when Kevin, Kerrod and Steve were all picked to tour with the Australian team. Picture: QT file

In 1992, Kerrod and twin brother Kevin created history when they joined older brother Steve in the Australian squad for its three-week Ashes tour of England.

Kerrod shared in Broncos premiership successes with Kevin and Allan Langer.

And where did all this success come from?

Parents Kev Snr and Sandra were popular identities around Ipswich before their passing.

The life of Kevin Walters Snr, affectionally known as KG, was celebrated during his funeral in August 2010.

With their 71-year old father's flower-adorned coffin at the front of the chapel, the brothers took turns in reminiscing about the life of their father.

They talked about a larrikin who met his wife Sandra at a Rockhampton dance in 1961, before moving to Ipswich when twins Kerrod and Kevin were two.

There were tales of life in their East Ipswich house, where the brothers grew up under their father, a builder/carpenter, and their mother, a nurse.

Kevin Snr was remembered as a generous and caring man. Away from work and football, Kevin Snr loved his camping trips to Burrum Heads and Tallebudgera.

Sandra passed away in April, 2013, aged 73.

Steve Walters said she was a loving woman "always looking for the good in people".

"She had a wonderful talent for making everyone feel special, important and unique," Steve said.

"Whether it was an underage trial match, a school concert or the Broncos getting knocked out of the finals yet again by the Raiders."

 

Andrew Walters
Andrew Walters

An emotional Andrew was proud of Sandra and everything she achieved.

"The toughness you showed throughout your illness I found to be unbelievable," Andrew said.

Kerrod described Sandra as a fun loving, giving mother who was admired by many.

"She never said a bad word about anyone - except Benny Elias during State of Origin," Kerrod said.

That was for good reason given the fierce NSW rival was envious of what the Kerrod and Steve achieved, denying Elias higher level rake roles.



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