How Ipswich became a centre of rich emotion
AS another year of drama and spine-tingling achievements comes to a close, QT sports editor David Lems takes an "A-Z'' look at some of the highlights and amazing feats in Ipswich sport.
A: acknowledges Ali, Ash and Archie. They are World Cup-winning rugby league player Ali Brigginshaw, international tennis ace Ash Barty and two-time world champion Archie Graham. Ali showed she was the best women's rugby league player in the world with her efforts setting up Australia's unbeaten road to glory. Ash climbed into 17th spot on the international rankings after a series of giant-killing performances overseas. She's just been given the Key to the City. Another tennis ace Archie was named City of Ipswich Senior Sportsperson of the Year after impressing in competitions for players with an intellectual disability.
B: beckons Ben Hunt, Blake Murray and the Brisbane Bandits. Halfback Hunt was sent to the Ipswich Jets mid-season to sharpen up his rugby league form before returning to the Broncos and being elevated to the victorious Queensland Maroons and Australian Kangaroos teams. Blake was the City of Ipswich Junior Sportsperson of the Year after winning two taekwondo world titles in martial arts mecca South Korea. The Bandits featured Ipswich-bred baseballer Andrew Campbell who helped the team win back-to-back national league titles.
C: calls up city pride, Cade Banditt and Central Districts. Western Pride's historic, last-gasp National Premier Leagues 2-1 grand final win at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex ignited emotional scenes not witnessed at an Ipswich sports event in many years. Banditt, 19, showed Ipswich is still producing talented hockey players. The goalkeeper played an important role in Queensland winning a silver medal at the national league championships. Centrals ended a first division cricketing drought by finally outlasting Laidley in the two-day competition final at Baxter Oval.
D: delivers Delly, Dulane and dedication. Aussie-bred international basketballer Matthew "Delly'' Dellavedova impressed fans by staging a coaching clinic at Ipswich stadium after a group of young players won a social media competition to spend time with the superstar. Evergreen indoor cricketer Dulane Carson shared in her fourth World Cup success with the Australian women's team, the latest in Dubai. Carson was runner-up as player of the tournament. Dedication covers all those spirited Ipswich men and women, like hockey player Sara Rogers, who came back from serious injuries to play again.
E: elevates the Eagles, the Ipswich Aussie rules team which reached the QFA Division 3 grand final. Although the Eagles lost to minor premiers Victoria Point, it was the first time in many years the footballers based at Mark Marsh Oval achieved the feat, guided by professional coach Kym Mansell.
F: falters with floods and the financial impact it has on Ipswich. Among the sporting victims earlier this year was the Ipswich City Golf Club at Leichhardt. Club staff could only watch and hope as 12 holes went under water. However, a massive clean-up effort enable play to resume within days.
G: gains the Goodna Eagles and how they secured the Rugby League Ipswich A Grade premiership with a 32-14 win at the North Ipswich Reserve. The powerhouse side, led by experienced captain Ramon Filipine, had to hold out the high-flying Fassifern outfit.
H: highlights Harry Sawyer and his heroic return to Western Pride. The tall striker was welcomed back at the Ipswich-based state league football team after his stint for Newcastle in the A-League. Sawyer delivered a burst of precision attack with 15 goals, including four hat-tricks during his short comeback. He was later named NPL Queensland's Most Valuable Player.
I: introduces the Ipswich Knights and their bold move to link with Brisbane Roar in forming an Academy to develop junior talent. The Ipswich Cup remained the city's biggest social event of the year with an innovative beach party. Cup goers witnessed impressive riding displays from Michael Cahill, winning his first Ipswich Cup aboard Self Sense, and international hoop Corey Brown. Just back from Singapore, Brown collected a win, a second and two thirds on Cup Day.
J: jumps into junior sport, Japan and jockey duels. Junior achievers from around the region's proud sporting nursery continued to excel in a number of sports. Japan was where the victorious Western Pride state league champions headed for an end of season tour. Jockeys Jeff Lloyd, Robbie Fradd and Jim Byrne staged some thrilling battles at Ipswich racetrack in pursuit of a premiership.
K: kickstarts Ipswich Pistol Club competitor Karla Blowers who became a three-time world champion. Her latest success was a record-breaking achievement at the International Practical Shooting Confederation world shoot in France. She beat major challengers from the host country and the United States to win the five-day meet by 29 points.
L: lavishes Leah Neale and Louis Dobbelaar. Freestyle swimmer Leah added a bronze relay medal to her growing collection after representing Australia at the world championships in Hungary. That came just months after she won a 4x200m relay silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Brookwater Golf Club teenager Louis continued to display his maturity on a green, impressing at major tournaments. That included a series of top 10 finishes during a six-week stint in the US.
M: means marathon man, Montanna McAvoy and Marney George. Ipswich's undisputed marathon man is Clay Dawson, the popular Rosewood State High School art teacher who won multiple events this year, often just weeks apart. His highlights, in races from 5-42km, included successes in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and at the Gold Coast. He even won this year's Ipswich Mile Gift handicap event on the Bundamba sand track. Like Clay, Montanna was a monumental achiever this year, dominating her age group in events from 3-5km at state and national level. The Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student represented Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games in The Bahamas. Marney completed an impressive season with the Ipswich Force, playing her last state league basketball match in the QBL semi-final. She had proudly represented Ipswich for 15 seasons, often as captain.
O: offers Ocean Embers, the mare part-owned by an Ipswich syndicate named BERT (representing the surname of part-owners Lachlan Brown, Lawrence Ellison, Murray Rogers and Tim Thawtes). Ocean Embers displayed her fast-finishing quality with a super winning run in the last race on the Melbourne Cup program. Many Ipswich people enjoyed a financial reward backing the five-year-old mare.
P: provides people power and how it can be influential. After the Western Pride women were dramatically shut out of next year's state league competition, a flood of public and Ipswich City Council support encouraged Football Queensland to reverse the decision and re-admit the Ipswich-based team.
Q: quantifies a historic match with Queensland Country playing their first National Rugby Championship match in Ipswich. Although the home side lost 29-26 to Canberra after a second half fade at the North Ipswich Reserve, they made amends by going on to win the NRC title. Former Ipswich Grammar School students Teti Tela and Efi Ma'afu were regular players for Queensland Country.
R: recognises Rebecca Ungermann and Rochelle Vidler. Multi-talented triathlete Rebecca overcame a major setback to win a bronze medal in her 25-29 years age group at the world long course championships in Canada. Rochelle became Australia's leading hammer thrower for her age.
S: stands for Supercars and softball achievers. Chaz Mostert survived an eight lap assault by championship leader Scott McLaughlin to win the all-important 200km Sunday race in the Ipswich SuperSprint round at Queensland Raceway. Josh Harding and Jordyn Hollands were among Ipswich's state softball representatives who impressed at national level.
T: trumpets top goals and top administrators. Western Pride's free kick specialist Dylan Wenzel-Halls nailed the goal of the season securing his team's last-gasp 2-1 victory over Moreton Bay United in the NPL Queensland grand final at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex. Ipswich's terrific list of administrators included the commitment of Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching, Jets CEO Jason Cubit, Ipswich Hockey president Margret Mantell, Ipswich Netball Association president Gail Lyne and Ipswich and District Athletic Club supremo Vic Pascoe. Lyne (Queensland Service to Sport Award) and Pascoe (Queensland Athletic League Certificate for Outstanding Performance for most wins and placegetters in a season) were recently recognised for their achievements. Mantell praised her dedicated committee after Ipswich was named Hockey Queensland Association of the Year. Lyne, Pascoe and Mantell are among the most dependable people in the city, along with Bichel cricketing husband and wife team, Wayne and Leanne, who do so much at the Ipswich Logan Hornets.
U: underlines umpires and the praise they deserve for their efforts in all sports. Ipswich Hockey Umpires Committee president Robert McLeod deserves a special mention for overseeing the introduction of new headpiece and communication technology at the Raceview grounds.
V: votes for volunteers - those dedicated people who devote countless hours to keeping Ipswich sport flourishing. This year's City of Ipswich Volunteer of the Year was Brothers jack of all trades Dane McQueen. Cricket stalwart Ray Walker was another to be honoured with a field at the Ivor Marsden Sporting Complex named after him.
W: warrants Western Pride, Wests and the Winternationals. The Western Pride senior men were Ipswich's team of the year, having staged a stunning unbeaten second half of the season run on their way to winning the state league grand final. The club's under 18 boys team also won a historic first premiership. Wests Hockey Club was represented in the Ipswich A Grade grand finals by men's and women's sides. Although the men were unable to end a premiership drought, the women showed their class with an 8-1 victory. Former international striker Amy Kickbusch (nee Korner) scored a hat-trick for her long-time Ipswich club. Another "W'' winner was Tigers halfback Steven West, who was named Rugby League Ipswich's A Grade Player of the Year. The Winternations produced plenty of drama in its historic 50th year before rain ruined the last day's racing. Willowbank regulars like the Rapisarda Autosport team and Ben Bray provided some highlights before the skies opened on the 400 Thunder national championships.
X: x-rays Ipswich racer Ash Walsh after a terrifying crash at Phillip Island, just days before he was due to race at Bathurst. Walsh was airlifted to Royal Melbourne Hospital with multiple injuries after the test car he was driving barrel-rolled four times at 280-290km/hour. Despite gallant attempts to get himself fit for Bathurst, Walsh had to withdraw a day before the famous race started on Mt Panorama.
Y: yields today's year to remember and the perfect time to acknowledge Ipswich's yardstick diversity across so many sports. The annual City of Ipswich Sports awards highlighted how talented our home-grown achievers are, especially the new breed coming through in sports like golf, taekwondo, basketball, BMX, athletics and softball.
Z: zones in on Zac Profke, one of Ipswich's most exciting teenage prospects. After making state squads in hockey and indoor hockey, Zac ended the year with selection in the Australian Schoolboys team heading to South Africa next year. Zac is also a rising umpire and coach. He guided the Ipswich under 13 indoor hockey team to a state title this year.