Ipswich traditions to cherish and go on
FROM popular pastimes like racing, bowls, croquet and tennis in the early days to having mighty football teams celebrate state league triumphs - sport has come a long way in Ipswich.
The Queensland Times has been on the incredible sporting journey all the way.
Since 1861, the QT has documented the city's successful sporting pursuits and challenges through news stories, photos, features, souvenir guides, grand final previews, liftouts and - in recent years - digital content.
That sharply parochial Ipswich focus will continue after Saturday's final print edition of the QT.
From those early days of Ipswich's history, it was clear the QT would play a major role in the daily lives of readers.
The QT has always been at the forefront of covering sport in the city, capturing the magic moments and life-changing experiences.
Over the decades, countless fanatical sports journalists have helped clubs promote and celebrate major anniversaries. Proud Ipswich clubs like Swifts, Brothers, Hancocks, Norths, West End and the Ipswich Musketeers have featured prominently.
The QT has given extensive, unrivalled coverage to historic events like Ipswich hosting men's and women's international matches between Australia and other leading nations.
We were there when Western Pride won the atmosphere-charged 2017 National Premier Leagues soccer grand final.
QT reporter Joel Gould was on the spot when the Ipswich Jets completed a wonderful rugby league double in 2015, beating Newcastle in the interstate final after clinching their first state league premiership in Brisbane days before.
In past years, the QT was also first on the scene at civic parades showcasing the involvement of Ipswich stars in memorable premiership and national title performances by the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Bulls.
We acknowledged achievers when Keys to the City were handed to Allan Langer and the Walters brothers, and to other international Ipswich sportspeople like Shane Watson and Ash Barty.
The QT pages have always been rich in sporting emotion, capped by Ipswich-focused stories on representatives at major events like the Sydney Olympics and Commonwealth Games. I was fortunate to convey those stories at the 2000 Olympics and waving the Ipswich flag at Commonwealth Games in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2006.
There has been nothing more satisfying than being there to share the highs of Ipswich achievers and providing a familiar face during the setbacks. Like being the first person to congratulate weightlifter Deb Acason after her gold medal performance in Melbourne; or offering some gentle words of encouragement after swimmer Heath Ramsay missed the Olympic 200m butterfly final.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay that arrived in Limestone Park remains a tremendous memory.
The QT followed it all the way from Uluru, recognising the city's torch bearers and capturing the amazing community spirit when thousands of people packed Limestone Park to celebrate.
Sports like soccer and rugby league have proud traditions in the city, especially when Ipswich teams used to regularly beat Brisbane opponents in grudge matches.
The story of miners working all day before training and then backing up to play at weekends typifies the Ipswich courage and commitment.
Cricket and hockey have provided many icons.
Over the past four decades, regional sport has continued to evolve with athletics, basketball, netball, BMX and baseball becoming more important.
Ipswich is proudly represented in a number of highly regarded state league competitions.
Motorsport has been a key focus at the city's impressive precinct at Willowbank. The annual Winternationals drag racing and Supercars events around the Queensland Raceway "paperclip'' have featured prominently.
Cycling, swimming, rugby and tennis have produced many fine moments shared in the pages of the QT.
Vigoro, another sport with strong family connections in the city, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.
The annual Ipswich Cup has provided a wealth of magic horse racing moments.
Who can forget when Ipswich-bred jockey Jamie Bayliss guided Dixie Kid to victory in the 1989 Cup?
The QT was at Bundamba to capture an historic sporting moment.
"Going across the line it was an instant feeling of joy and as I was pulling up, the first person I ran into was my dad,'' Bayliss said, reliving the euphoria.
"There was a lot of family and people I grew up with and they were all there. I still remember giving the speech after the race. All the people were hanging over the fence.''
Such achievements live on in the pages of the QT.
Greyhound racing at the Ipswich Showgrounds and trotting at Marburg have loyal regional followings with training endeavours often published in the QT.
Junior and school sport has provided an endless line of wonderful stories and photos, always well received in Ipswich's home paper.
It is always a delight digging up stories of young guns featured in the QT 15 or 20 years ago and seeing them accomplish new feats now.
Above all, Ipswich's historic newspaper has focused on people conquering challenges and defying hurdles from grassroots competition to state, national and international competition.
The QT's importance includes working with Ipswich City Council over the past decade to showcase the terrific City of Ipswich Sports Awards.
The remarkable feats of the major winners listed on Ipswich's Sporting Hall of Fame walls at the North Ipswich Corporate Centre have been covered by the QT.