Jeff Denman
Jeff Denman

A cold beer with . . . footy Tiger King with Gasnier speed

JEFF Denman played for the Norths Tigers in Ipswich then with a serve and blistering acceleration, represented Queensland and Australia. The winger and centre won a famous premiership with the Tigers and scored 59 tries for the black and golds. He became a real Tiger King of Brisbane Rugby League.

You played for Railways/Norths in Ipswich. Are they good memories? Fantastic memories and life. I am grateful to Ipswich for so much. I haven't lived there for 25 years now but I stayed there a long time. I was born at North Ipswich, went to North Ipswich School and then lived at Brassall. We raised our children in Brassall. I played all my football at Norths and then Bulimba Cup and Kruger Cup for Ipswich.

In 1964, I played at the opening of the North Ipswich Reserve and not too long after that Clive Churchill approached me to join the Tigers. He was coaching there at the time.

Back when I was at Easts you had to reside where you played. The rules said I had to go live in East Brisbane. Easts provided a house for us but I think we stayed there two nights.

We stayed in Ipswich. The President of the Ipswich Rugby League Guv Clarke would see me driving around Ipswich and was a great friend.

It was like 'Little Ipswich' at Langlands Park in the 1970's? Yeah I think I was close to the first and then a few years after that the Morris boys came along and eventually there was six or so of us driving from Ipswich to Easts to play. Easts seem attracted to Ipswich players from that era on. I signed to play for the Sharks for 1969 but I pulled out I just couldn't leave.

In the 1972 major semi you scored two tries against raging favourites Wests to get Easts a spot in the famous grand final? One was an intercept. I remember that. It was a great two weeks. Our grand final preparation the next week probably wouldn't be repeated today. We met at the Stones Corner Hotel and had a big steak on the way to Lang Park.

Grand final day 1972. Where were you when Fyfe kicked the field goal? I was out on my wing. Great memories. It's come back and Fyfe is in the middle of the field to kick his first and only ever field goal. Probably the most famous grand final in Brisbane ever.

You played for Ipswich and Brisbane in the Bulimba Cup. How did you go playing against Ipswich? It just had to be done. I played for Ipswich before I left to play for Easts and then came back playing for Brisbane. We probably had a few Ipswich players in our Brisbane side with Hugh O'Doherty and myself. Not sure the Ipswich crowd always appreciated that too much. I had some fantastic Ipswich teammates and players around me. John Brown, Merv Verrenkamp were two of my favourites. Merv was tragically killed in the Box Flat Explosion in 1972.

It's 1964 and you debut for Queensland scoring a try at the Exhibition Grounds but 12 games for Queensland and one win, it wasn't easy against the Blues? No. the calibre of those sides had to be seen. Marking up on Langlands and Irvine in your first game for Queensland wakes you up. But you're playing for Queensland and representing your state so you're achieving something you've wanted since you were six.

In 1969, you tour New Zealand with the Kangaroos? That tour was the beginning of the end for me. I hurt my achilles in New Zealand on the wet ground and no one could figure out what was wrong, I couldn't get a boot on it was so sore every week. I was getting needles to play. I came back and was playing for Brisbane in Toowoomba and it snapped which meant 18 months off. I missed all of 1970 and half of 1971. I retired at 29. It was just too hard I had a young family and was driving from Ipswich to Brisbane for work.

I am not old enough to have seen Jeff Denman play but I asked one of his favourite Ipswich players, Queensland and Australian representative John Brown what I had missed.

"He was quick, great acceleration with a good swerve and a very strong fend. He would go around you on the outside of his opponent and push them off with his great fend,'' Brown said. "He was similar to Reg Gasnier in his movements."