Dr Tom Dooley. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Dr Tom Dooley. Picture: Jamie Hanson

A cold beer with . . . legendary league doctor

THE legendary Valleys' doctor and president Dr Tom Dooley ran to the middle of Lang Park, Gabba or Neumann Oval plenty of times with his bag in hand. I lay on the table, asked for some stitches, we pulled out the magic sponge and talked about a magnificent career.

How long were you the Valleys' doctor? From 1970 until the early 1990s. We had some great teams in that era. Valleys was a great club to be involved with for that long. I was president for 14 years and my whole family was involved. I was roughly the same age as the players so we got on and had a great time. I was friends with the other team doctors too. There was a real community feel to league in Brisbane. I know your doctor at Ipswich, Roy Saunders, was excellent and did the job for a long time.

Did you have a favourite grand final in that time? The 1979 final would take some beating. We lost in 1978 and then to win 26-0 a year later was a great time. In 1972, losing by a point would be my least favourite. Vic Weiland scored in 1979 and we went from one side to another and finished the game and he was a terrific player. He got an offer from Sydney and just didn't want to go but I have no doubt if he went to Sydney he would have been a star.

You were also the Queensland Cricket doctor weren't you? Yes, for 24 years. My children spent plenty of time in the Gabba change rooms or the Lang Park change rooms watching me stitch up players or fix shoulders. I did Queensland netball too. What I have out of my sports involvement is friends, lifelong friends. I gave up my Sundays to do sports but it was worth it.

Jeff Thomson rang the other day to check on me. It's a good life in sport when Thommo rings you to talk.

Did you have a favourite Ipswich player at Valleys? We had a few Ipswich people at Valleys over my time. Hugh O' Doherty would just sit quietly before a game but then was a terrier in a game. Al McInnes was a great gentlemen and Peter Falvey owns a pub out at Ipswich and was a great person. John Crilly too. I stay in contact with all of them. It's been nice in these isolation times that I have received plenty of phone calls from footballers and cricketers checking I am alright.

The thing about Ipswich is you're not just a great footballer but a great person it seems too.

Is Wally Lewis the best diehard you've seen? Wally was the best I have seen. He was so big and strong and could change a game. He could put on a try. I haven't seen anyone else do what he did.

You played a part in saving Wally too when Mark Graham hit him in the throat in the finals in 1980? Brian Canavan, our trainer, got to Wally first and I just turned up later and got all the glory. His larynx had spasmed and he couldn't breathe. We both stayed calm and helped him.

What changes have you seen in sports science that you think are positive? The care of players who suffer concussion is the best change I have seen. I'd like to see more low tackling but let's be honest that will never happen.