Stick together and stay strong

THE Brisbane Broncos have dealt with plenty of pre-season drama, including the recent sacking of coach Ivan Henjak.

However, Ipswich sporting great Allan “Alfie” Langer was able to sidestep the saga for a more personal cause when returning home on Saturday night.

Due to a sore neck, Langer was unable to play in the Broncos v Ipswich Allstars game which featured some of Queensland’s leading footballers of the past.

However, the former international halfback arrived before the main game to lend his support.

The showpiece match fittingly ended in an 18-18 draw.

Ipswich’s State League Legends beat the Gold Coast Titans Old Boys 20-18 in the early game.

“To have the Broncos here is great and it’s great to see all the Ipswich Old Boys here,” Langer said.

“The Titans have done the same thing so it’s all people willing to lend a hand mate.”

In between meeting fans, signing autographs and chatting to his many friends, Langer (pictured) said he was happy to help out, especially being back on familiar territory.

It was at Saturday night’s venue – the North Ipswich Reserve – with former Jets coach Tommy Raudonikis during the 1980s that Langer displayed his magical chip kicks, dangerous dummy runs and trademark tenacity.

From Ipswich’s league headquarters, Langer was snapped up to play the first of his 37 matches for Queensland between 1988 and 2002.

“I remember that like it was yesterday,” Langer said.

“It’s great to be back at the Oval. We had some great times here.”

Alfie went on to represent Australia 23 times, including stints as national skipper.

But before playing 258 games for the Broncos, the premiership-winning captain learnt his skills playing for Norths juniors.

“I played all my junior football down here at Norths and they can’t play on the field this year,” Langer said, saddened to see his former club suffering from severe flood damage.

“It is devastating for them and the other junior clubs as well.

“It’s great to see such a great turnout here tonight and hopefully we can help out.”

The Ipswich born and bred player offered a message of support.

“It is tough but if everyone sticks together and stays strong, I’m sure we can rebuild Ipswich,” said Langer, 44. “It won’t be a problem.”

Langer is Broncos’ assistant coach. He also hopes to continue working with Queensland’s history-making State of Origin side chasing six series wins a row.

Despite the recent Broncos’ problems, Langer said he saw a bright future for the club.

“I love being involved with all the younger blokes,” he said.

“We’ve got a great young side there this year so hopefully there’s bigger and better things coming at the end of the year.

“We’ve got a lot of Broncos support up here in Ipswich as well.”

Now based at the Sunshine Coast, Langer tries to return home regularly, especially to see his mum Rita. She is one of the tireless volunteers who have supported clubs like Norths for so many years.

“She’s devastated because the Norths canteen just got wiped out,” Alfie said.

“With all the hard workers over there, it’s just disappointing. But strong people will always put their hands in their pockets and help them out.”

Among those “strong people” is flood relief co-organiser Pat O’Doherty, who Alfie played with during his junior career.

“They (people like O’Doherty) are great Ipswich boys. What they are doing tonight is very special.”

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