Thursday, February 15, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Get Ready For Footy Season With Local Footy History Book

The Burdekin boasts a remarkable rugby league history, with close to 20 internationals playing in the local competitions between the 1920s and 1980s, with this history and more captured in the book ‘A Short History of the Ayr, Home Hill and Burdekin Rugby Leagues’ which was written by rugby league historian Martin Grandelis and published in 2022.

Mr Grandelis grew up in the Burdekin in the 1960s in the heyday of rugby league in the Burdekin district.

From the great rivalries between clubs to the excitement of Foley Shield matches at Rugby Park, the book reflects on great memories for players, administrators and supporters.

“As a kid growing up in Parkside in the 1960s, Rugby Park was the place to be, particularly on Foley Shield days,” Mr Grandelis told QRL before the book was launched in 2022.

He said he was inspired to chronicle the history of rugby league in the district through the pages of a new book, and recalled how clubs were fertile hunting grounds for recruiters as well as big name southern players who came north as coaches for club and Foley Shield teams.

“The history of rugby league in the Burdekin district is such a fascinating and at times turbulent story,” he said.

“Ayr Football League formed following a break from the Lower Burdekin Rugby Football Union which saw matches of rugby league in Ayr from 1916 with Natives, Rainbows, Hornets and possibly Ramblers the foundation clubs.

“Across the river the Home Hill Football League was formed shortly afterwards and by the early 1920s, four clubs in Zambucks (named after a famous ointment), Osborne, Cities and Iyah made up a senior and junior competition”.

Over 760 pages, the book tells of controversies, club and representative matches, grand finals, recollections of players, referees and administrators, immortalising more than 350 stories on the page.

‘A Short History of the Ayr, Home Hill and Burdekin Rugby Leagues’ by Martin Grandelis is available to borrow from Burdekin Libraries in Ayr and Home Hill.

Rugby league historian Martin Grandelis. Photo supplied: QRL

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