Gavin Allen making a powerful run for the Brisbane Broncos
Gavin Allen making a powerful run for the Brisbane Broncos

Good bloke ‘Jed’ had positive effect on rugby league


Michael Nunn

I CALL it the "Matthew Hayden Effect". It is a sportsman that everyone loves and just seems a good bloke. You want to have a beer with him, mums love him, and dads want him to come over for a BBQ.

Pat Rafter has it. So do Andy Bichel, Gene Miles and Adam Gilchrist.

I might have to rethink my theory and rename it the "Gavin Allen Effect".

The big prop left Cairns Kangaroos for Valleys and stopped off on the way becoming a Seagull, Bronco and Dragon.

Eight Origin games for Queensland and "Jed" became a Queensland league favourite for his straight up style mixed with an offload that kept the defence moving.

"I won the Cairns player of the year and was then got an offer from Souths and Valleys in Brisbane," Allen recalled.

"Dad was a mad Valleys man so the decision was made; I was off to the Diehards.

"I loved it at Valleys, absolutely loved it, just good people and great players off and on the field.

"Peter McWhirter was coach and he was terrific."

Allen would stay at Valleys for one year before the Dragons would knock and Allen would head off to Sydney.

"It was nearly the Roosters. I sat down with Arthur and talked about going to the Roosters, hard to say no to Arthur but Roy Masters got me.

"We won the Under 23 premiership at the Dragons in 1987 and then the next year in the Charity Shield against Souths I did my ACL and spent all of 1988 doing rehab."

An offer to come back to Brisbane was on the table and Allen came home to join the new Brisbane Broncos.

"I was playing Reserve grade under Billy Gardner at the Broncos and I was only getting 10 minutes a game so I went to him and said look I need more time.

"He wasn't keen on that so I said well can I go play for Wynnum and get a full game.

"Wynnum was another great club I loved it there too, great blokes that knew how to have fun."

Gavin Allen taking on the Blues
Gavin Allen taking on the Blues

It was at the end of that season that some hard and honest conversations between the boss Wayne Bennett and Allen.

"Wayne suggested my future didn't lie at the Broncos and he'd help me get a start with a Brisbane club

"I said no I am not doing that. I will never get a Sydney comp contract doing that.

"I said I am going to put on 10kg and go to the Dragons again.

"Wayne liked the sound of that because I was only 86kg and he said if you get to 96kg you can have a contract."

It was a challenge for Allen who had never lifted a weight in his life.

"We just didn't do it in Cairns. We just played footy and you then come down to Brisbane and they want you to be strong and lift big weights.

"I did nothing but weights all off-season, didn't run a single step. Broncos' staff were trying to get me to run and I said no.

"First run at pre-season big Sam Backo has breezed past me and I thought probably should have done some running."

When 1990 arrives, the 96kg version of Allen is on his way with 18 games all the way through to the Minor Semi against Manly and the Broncos first finals win 12-4.

It would be a face from Allen's past that would now be on his side and Allen was happy about that.

"I remember against the Jets I was playing lock and part of my job was to get out of the scrum and get the half," he said.

"Well I have seen Alf at half and thought here we go.

"Charged at him and he's stepped inside me and left me holding on to his jumper- just.

"He did it again in that game and I remember thinking he's small but he's hard to get hold of."

Now Alf was on his side at Brisbane but the dramas were not over yet.

"He would do it to me at training I would be at A defender and Bennett would be saying don't let him step inside you," he said. "He did it all the time."

A few Jets left their mark on Big Jed.

"Glenn Haggath I remember, and Gordon Langton, gee he was fast, you weren't catching him if he got clear."

"Tough nights in Ipswich I know that.

"Franco Scarpelli I played against in Foley Shield against Mount Isa and then I come down here and go to Ipswich for Valleys and there he is again.

"Producing footballers is what Ipswich does."

See I told you Allen was one of the good ones.

Honest approach and hard work

SOME players sound Ipswich, not too sure what it is but if the journey had found Ipswich instead of Redcliffe, I get the feeling Tony Obst would have been an Ipswich icon.

He has a green and white feel to him - hard working and simple honesty with a love of league.

Obst made the trip from Longreach where he played first grade as a 15 year old and came to Brisbane in 1969 and it is all because of Ipswich that the Dolphins had their man.

Ipswich Bulimba Cup hero Des Tracey was coaching in Barcaldine; Tracey became a sounding board for a young Obst as he thought about his future.

"I had many conversations with Des about what I should do and If I should take up the Brisbane offer," he said.

"He was definite that I should head to Brisbane.

"Dad wasn't too worried he just wanted me to finish my apprenticeship."

Obst headed off to Redcliffe where he would play from 1969 to 1981 and play 230 games and one season at Brothers in 1982 and then back to Redcliffe to finish his career.

"I had an issue with Arthur Beetson so I left for Brothers, in hindsight I didn't need to, I should have just stayed but I made the decision and then at the end of 1982 Tosser Turner said come back and finish here so I did."

Obst robust style would bring a maroon jumper in 1972. Playing for Queensland would be a highlight of a huge career.

"I remember playing for Queensland and we had just come off the field and NSW half Brian Bourke who had been picked from the country because Billy Smith didn't want to play.

"Which probably says something about their team too, he came into our rooms still in his gear with a six pack.

"I said you lost mate?

"No, rather drink with you guys, he said you've got no idea what's going on in there.

"He sat down and had a beer with us still in his playing gear."

Tony Obst playing for the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Tony Obst playing for the Redcliffe Dolphins.


Obst would play against some mega stars at interstate level.

"I played against Ron Coote, Arthur Beetson, Steve Rogers and Bob Fulton absolute stars.

"Not too hard to see why we didn't have too many wins."

Obst was sure that more of those Queenslanders should have played for Australia.

"The selectors for the Australian team were four Blues and one Queenslander so we weren't winning too many arguments."

It would be the Trades and Labour Cup that would bring Obst to Ipswich to play.

"I was playing in the Trades and Labour Cup and it was my first game in Ipswich,'' he said.

"I remember we won by 20 but it felt like two points it was so tough, that was my first Ipswich experience.

"Plenty of passion for league out there.

"Ipswich has always been such a league strong hold; you can't deny the players they have produced.

"Des Morris would be your best, what a terrific player, great bloke too. Fits the Ipswich mould.

Ipswich rugby league great Hugh O'Doherty
Ipswich rugby league great Hugh O'Doherty

"Hugh O'Doherty too, he wasn't a classical hooker but that's what made him such a marvel, he was a hooker in a tough era.

"You could throw perfect passes but if you didn't win the scrums and your team the ball you'd be playing Reserve grade and he just won the ball."

It would be the State League bringing the Dolphin and Brothers back to Ipswich in 1982 and 1983.

"I absolutely loved the State League, I don't think there was a single trip I went on that I didn't come back a better player," he said.

"You'd go play North Queensland or Ipswich and they were just great trips.

"I am sure it was great for the areas too, and made those players better to play against the big Brisbane clubs."

In 1980, Obst would be showered in individual glory winning the Rothmans Medal, Rugby League Week player of the year and Courier Mail Player of the year.

"It was probably my best year individually, a lot of that belongs to Frank Stanton, and he was just a terrific coach.

"He never left me alone; he'd always be talking to me about the game.

"He'd ring me on a Sunday morning and ask what are you doing? I would say getting ready to go to the game.

"I'll come pick you up, need to talk."

Obst would end with a simple idea on his life in league.

"I got to travel the world and play against great players and with terrific players, if it wasn't for League I would still be fixing fridges in Longreach."

Simple message but it sounds honest and simple coming from Obst.

Cooper's stat

GAVIN Allen: FOG 72- 8 games, 80 runs, try assists one, line break assists one, tackles 119, 355 minutes, 540 metres, 10 offloads.