Long-serving Brothers Leagues Club general manager Mark Hennelly is one of the city’s most respected officials. Picture: David Nielsen
Long-serving Brothers Leagues Club general manager Mark Hennelly is one of the city’s most respected officials. Picture: David Nielsen

Ipswich’s best: See who joins top officials list

BEING a successful sporting official requires diverse skills and a calm manner to deal with multiple challenges.

The Ipswich region has been fortunate to have so many high quality officials who have conquered the hurdles before them and found new ways of taking their respective sports forward.

In a special series featuring 55 top officials from the past four decades, check out and appreciate the latest group of achievers.

 

29. Ross Hallett (soccer)

HAVING recently released an impressive International Honour Board for Ipswich football, Hallett demonstrated his ongoing commitment to preserving vital history.

The long-serving official and hobby historian completed the wonderful project along with another dedicated football fanatic John Roderick.

The pair have created a lasting record of the city's amazing football history from Australia's first capped Socceroo Alex Gibb in 1922, showcasing 55 elite players involved with local clubs.

The incredible presentation they gave before 200 guests on February 15 relived many wonderful stories of endeavour and achievement.

The honour board is now placed in the Ipswich Knights clubhouse at Bundamba.

Having strong ties to the Ipswich Advertiser newspaper, "Rossco'' has continued to promote the city's fine football traditions at every opportunity.

However, Hallett's commitment to regional football extends far beyond his ongoing work as a historian.

Before the historic 1997 merger of Coalstars and St Helens (formerly Ipswich United) to become the current Ipswich Knights club, Hallett was instrumental in various roles.

Hallett played junior football for Bundamba Rangers before joining the Coalstars under-18 team in 1964. The halfback progressed into senior ranks over the next decade, becoming Coalstars president from 1995-97. That was the final period before Coalstars merged with St Helens to form the Ipswich Knights club that kicked-off its season in 1998.

Hallett received Coalstars life membership in 1978.

He also enjoys bowls and organises an annual challenge between Coalstars and St Helens to keep memories of past deeds alive.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/see-why-55-of-ipswichs-best-recognised-on-honour-b/3948341/

 

Ipswich Knights life member Ross Hallett has worked on some of the city’s most important footballing projects. Picture: Rob Williams
Ipswich Knights life member Ross Hallett has worked on some of the city’s most important footballing projects. Picture: Rob Williams

 

28. Bruce Raleigh (cricket)

HAVING a field named after him at Redbank Plains was a fitting tribute to one of the region's best curators.

If you rang him during the day, he would more often than not be sitting on a mower or roller tending to his precious cricket rounds.

Hearing later groundsman like Ray Walker acknowledge the experienced Raleigh's talents as a teacher is another deserved accolade.

Walker credited Raleigh with showing him how to prepare pitches when the duo worked together on wickets near the Ipswich Police Citizens Youth club in 1994.

"I knew nothing about it. Bruce Raleigh put me on the right track,'' Walker recalled.

However, Raleigh has done so much more for cricket during a lifetime of loyalty.

He was secretary of the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association from 1989-95 and vice president in 2007. He took over as association president when Norm Baxter died in 2008.

Raleigh remained president until until 2011 before a second stint in 2016.

Raleigh helped create Occasionals in 1976 at the Kerwick Hotel at Redbank. He oversaw a number of mergers that followed.

Occasionals were renamed Redbank in 1984, then switched to Redbank Plains in 1990.

Redbank Plains came into 1st Grade in 1991/92.

As Ipswich cricket historian Wayne Jones noted, the club was renamed Redbank Raiders in 2004/05 before becoming Eastern Raiders in 2005/06.

Strollers/Raiders fielded teams in top two grades in 2010/11 after a partial merger with Bundamba Strollers.

All grades eventually joined forces to become Eastern Taipans before yet another merge with Swifts (the old Walesendia) in 2017/18.

Raleigh was there all the way until becoming ill in late 2018 and handing over the IWMCA presidency to Mike Stoodley.

"A lot of good changes have come through," Raleigh said, reflecting on his multi-layed involvement.

"One of the biggest highlights was when (former Ipswich mayor John Nugent) gave us the ground.

"We've had some excellent coaches through the ranks like Peter Drinnen, Brad Inwood, Steve Boothby, Craig Jesberg and Lance Roudenko."

Raleigh's commitment and willingness to help out will remain his legacies.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/stalwart-pulls-up-stumps/649352/

 

Long-time club and association groundsman and official Bruce Raleigh at the cricket oval named in his honour at Redbank Plains. Picture: David Nielsen
Long-time club and association groundsman and official Bruce Raleigh at the cricket oval named in his honour at Redbank Plains. Picture: David Nielsen

 

27. Phil and Lorelle Jackson (basketball)

REGARDED as "Mr and Mrs Ipswich Basketball'', the Jacksons were long-serving officials and life members with more than 40 years combined service.

Lorelle was a foundation member of Ipswich basketball.

Phil was association president for fours years, helping set up the-then Southern Comfort League.

 

Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson

As a couple based at Eastern Heights, Phil and Lorelle were largely responsible for bolstering the profile of the sport until their retirement in the mid 1980s.

Among the many positions they held were president, secretary, zone delegates and state councillor. They also refereed and coached at various times.

Lorelle, who passed away in 2011, was the first involved in the sport, being part of the inaugural Ipswich team which started in 1962.

Phil joined a year later as a player after the Tigers netball team changed to basketball.

Apart from starting a junior program and building up the referees association, they were active fundraisers.

 

Lorelle Jackson
Lorelle Jackson

 

26. Ray Walker (cricket)

A SPORTING hall of fame built on Ipswich pride, dedication and mateship could easily be created from the people who have helped Ray Walker most.

Names like Ric Mahoney, Norm Baxter, Bruce Raleigh, Nev Paulsen, Barry Dancer, Gary and Ross Madsen roll freely off Walker's tongue as he relives his 40 plus year contribution to regional cricket.

But while appreciating how much those Ipswich stalwarts assisted him, Walker can stand tall himself. He was proud to receive a special honour recognising his valuable commitment to cricket.

Ray Walker Oval was officially opened in 2017 before the T20 grand final at the Ivor Marsden Memorial Sports Centre.

The Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association life member had his name attached to oval number one, a short walk from where Norm Baxter Oval is located.

For Ipswich born and bred Walker, it was a terrific gesture.

"I was really humbled about it, especially when you see some of the other names around the place,'' Walker said. "I didn't realise until they said 'what have you been doing' and you go back over what you've done.''

Walker, born in 1952, was named IWMCA life member in 2005.

The self-confessed "average cricketer'' began as a player with East Ipswich in 1969. He was coached by one of Ipswich's best in Mahoney.

 

Ray Walker at the cricket field named in his honour. Picture: Rob Williams
Ray Walker at the cricket field named in his honour. Picture: Rob Williams

When the East Ipswich club folded, Walker continued playing with Booval where he met future Australian hockey great and international coach Barry Dancer.

After a break from cricket, Walker began a lengthy career helping others.

"Nev Paulsen got me into coaching because he was an expert at getting blokes in,'' said Walker, who grew up in the Silkstone area.

"I really loved coaching and he put me right through the levels.''

Walker became a regional coaching director and coached with Paulsen at schools.

But of his many cricketing roles, Walker looks back fondly on his time as a groundsman.

"The highlight of my life was getting onto wickets,'' he said.

In 1994, Walker started preparing pitches near the Ipswich Police Citizens Youth club, learning from experienced curator Bruce Raleigh.

"It wasn't being used so we kicked it off again then I moved over to Alan Cumming (field at North Ipswich),'' Walker said. "I knew nothing about it. Bruce Raleigh put me on the right track.''

When the Ivor Marsden complex opened in the late 1990s, Walker continued his work with cricketing stalwart Gary Madsen.

Walker remained involved at the Amberley fields for years that followed.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/see-why-ray-is-among-ipswich-sporting-greats/3152342/

 

 

 

25. Gary Wilkins (soccer)

THE highly regarded Queensland administrator has shared in major glory with A-League club Brisbane Roar.

The club honours him with the Gary Wilkins Medal awarded to a leading player each season.

However, the vice-chairman's most recent focus has been as patron of Western Pride FC.

The Ipswich born and bred Australian Hall of Fame inductee is one of the state's most experienced officials, following on from his distinguished playing career.

After starting with Bundamba Rangers as a junior, Wilkins joined the newly-formed Redbank Seekers.

He moved to Hollandia before sharing in six premierships with Brisbane Lions from 1964-74.

He represented Queensland 35 times, including 34 as captain.

Wilkins represented Australia four times before refocusing on his administrative career.

After a stint as director of Brisbane Lions, he was elected chairman in 1993 before joining Roar in the A-League.

He was inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame in 2007 after receiving an Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

Fiercely loyal to Ipswich, the former international footballer was eager to assist Pride when the region's first state league franchise was created in 2012.

Sharing in Pride's historic 2017 National Premier Leagues grand final victory added another major milestone to his career.

Since Pride was formed, Wilkins has been a key force behind the scenes, assisting the management team and strengthening the club's profile in a quest for a future A-League licence.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/godfather-delighted-as-ipswich-part-of-successful-/2249230/

 

 

Western Pride patron Gary Wilkins has years of valuable footballing knowledge. Picture: David Nielsen
Western Pride patron Gary Wilkins has years of valuable footballing knowledge. Picture: David Nielsen

 

24. Ann Bell (athletics)

AS a second "mum'' to many children, award-winning Ipswich Little Athletics official Bell has often operated under the public radar.

However, her life membership with Queensland Athletics in 2013 highlights her years of reliable service.

Bell has performed multiple roles since joining the centre in 1984. She has helped the centre continue to grow and set the highest standards at their Bill Paterson Oval base and at events around the state.

She has made a valuable contribution as secretary, recorder and centre manager since 1993. Her tireless work has included organising and administering many fundraising activities and grant applications.

She's also been a liaison officer, zone co-ordinator and canteen convener, after starting as a track and field coach.

Among her many roles were co-ordinating regular Twilight carnivals and the mini Olympics in 2000. That was organised in conjunction with the Olympic Torch Relay celebrations at Limestone Park.

In 1996, she worked with Ipswich City Council in upgrading Bill Paterson Oval.

The outstanding official has received a number of awards from Little Athletics Queensland, including life membership, for her distinguished service.

The humble achiever was also awarded an Australian Sports Medal in 2001 for her dedication.

She has also been the driving force behind many other awards won by the Ipswich Little Athletics Centre over the years.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/passionate-volunteer-achieves-ipswich-first/1813080/

 

Little Athletics Queensland life member Ann Bell. Picture: David Nielsen
Little Athletics Queensland life member Ann Bell. Picture: David Nielsen

 

23. Mark Hennelly (rugby league)

WIDELY recognised as one of the city's most accomplished regional administrators, Brothers Leagues Club general manager Mark Hennelly is always looking ahead.

He's battled through testing times at the Wildey Street club, overseeing major initiatives and massive upgrades to keep the club progressing.

Hennelly has injected endless enthusiasm into projects since taking over as secretary/manager in 1993.

When he became chairman of the Leagues Club in 1989, the organisation was trading on a day-to-day basis.

From a debt of $100,000 and only six staff at that time, Hennelly has overseen multi-million dollar improvements at the club and a massive increase in staff.

Despite ongoing financial challenges, the Brothers Leagues Club remains one of Ipswich's major social hubs.

But that's not the only reason the club is so important. Brothers lead the way regionally for sporting diversity.

While rugby league has been the cornerstone for decades, the Brothers network has embraced other sports like cricket, hockey, basketball, netball and swimming.

The club provides the central facilities for different sporting groups along with other community benefits.

The former St Edmund's College student has also furthered his career as a state manager with Leagues Clubs Australia.

However, his thoughts rarely wander far from what is happening at Brothers.

Ipswich-born and bred Hennelly is always a familiar face when Brothers host Rugby League Ipswich matches at Raceview, gala events or major presentation functions are held at the club.

However, he knows the broad sporting focus is essential to maintaining strong support.

Under Hennelly's guidance, the different arms of the Brothers franchise have provided many opportunities for junior sport and needy charities around the city.

"We try to do things that benefits them and provide facilities for them,'' Hennelly said.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/brothers-club-manager-sticks-with-winning-formula/2260075/

 

Brothers Leagues Club general manager and rugby league fanatic Mark Hennelly. Picture: David Nielsen
Brothers Leagues Club general manager and rugby league fanatic Mark Hennelly. Picture: David Nielsen

 

22. James Buchanan (soccer)

AS someone who enjoys boating and cheering on NRL team Manly, Buchanan deserves to have more time to himself these days.

However, his commitment to grassroots and representative football will always be treasured and appreciated by many.

He was for many years focused on fostering regional pride and unity.

Before playing an important role in forming Western Pride Football Club, Buchanan was the man who brought regional teams together.

He instigated better communication and information sharing by organising annual QT Cup pre-season tournaments from 2004.

The emphasis was on regional teams playing each other and sharing ideas, with a focus on youth.

Major regional clubs like the Ipswich Knights, Ipswich City Bulls, Western Spirit and Springfield United supported the initiative.

"Go back eight or nine years (before 2004) and we had nothing,'' Buchanan said, eager to encourage closer football ties in the region.

The former Ipswich City Bulls club chairman and club director tried different concepts like playing over three weekends or a Friday night/Saturday schedule to entice more club co-operation.

James Buchanan played a major role in organising the QT Cup competition that brought regional football together.
James Buchanan played a major role in organising the QT Cup competition that brought regional football together.

Alongside another energetic Ipswich City Bulls stalwart Liz Ridley, Buchanan helped shape how men's and women's teams at each clubs worked together.

The efforts helped senior club sides prepare for their Football Brisbane seasons and built stronger bonds, especially between the players and officials.

Buchanan was also a key force in attracting Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory A-League teams to the city for matches against Ipswich Invitational sides.

The well supported games drew thousands of fans to North Ipswich Reserve in a carnival-like atmosphere. The matches featuring A-League representatives gave promising Ipswich club players a valuable taste of higher level football.

The community effort also allowed junior players from church soccer clubs like Whitehill, Westminster, Raceview and Brisbane Valley to participate in marchpasts and work as ball boys, inspiring them for the future.

Buchanan's hard work continued with Football Ipswich before joining with other influential figures like Kym Wickstein and Todd Hunt to build the foundations for a new Pride club representing the region.

When he's not out on the water these days, he pops along to watch his daughter Georgia play football or futsal.

https://www.qt.com.au/news/passionate-push-for-ipswich-association/289906/

 

Former vice-chairman James Buchanan (second from right) was part of the original Western Pride executive. Treasurer Todd Hunt, secretary Wendy Spencer and chairman Kym Wickstein were also key officials. Picture: Claudia Baxter
Former vice-chairman James Buchanan (second from right) was part of the original Western Pride executive. Treasurer Todd Hunt, secretary Wendy Spencer and chairman Kym Wickstein were also key officials. Picture: Claudia Baxter

 

21. Gail Lyne (netball)

BEING one of Ipswich's most successful administrators, Lyne is highly regarded for her passion and leadership.

An ability to implement change is another quality on her impressive list of attributes spanning more than 50 years.

The loyal Ipswich Netball Association president was honoured with a Service to Sport accolade at the 2017 Queensland Sports Awards.

Booval resident Lyne has been president since 1996 after a range of earlier administrative roles including committee member, registrar, secretary (1977-81), representative treasurer (1991), coaching director (1992-95) and state league co-ordinator (1994-98).

She was also the inaugural coach of the Ipswich Flyers representative team in 1994, as part of a 20 year stint (1975-95), where she also worked with club sides.

The former representative goal attack has served Netball Queensland in various committee and advisory roles since the 1980s.

Appreciative of those who have shared in her remarkable sporting journey, Ipswich born and bred Lyne said the award meant so much.

"It's people out there actually seeing what we've done over the years,'' she said.

That includes maintaining and upgrading Ipswich's netball headquarters, providing a hub for 1500 junior and senior players to enjoy the benefits of a popular team sport.

The former St Mary's College student has to oversee the association's financial and planning agenda. "It is a business,'' she said. "People are paying thousands and thousands of dollars to be here.''

She is constantly satisfied seeing the Doris Howes courts packed with players for Saturday fixtures or state carnivals Ipswich often hosts.

"Netball has given me so much over the last 50 years as a player, umpire, coach and administrator,'' the life member said. "It has given me so many life skills.

"I have met so many wonderful people in all aspects of my involvement in sport and made the best of friends that has enriched my life.''

https://www.qt.com.au/news/gails-50-years-of-service-honoured-with-elite-awar/3284114/

 

Long-serving Ipswich netball official Gail Lyne was awarded a Queensland Service to Sport Award. Picture: David Nielsen
Long-serving Ipswich netball official Gail Lyne was awarded a Queensland Service to Sport Award. Picture: David Nielsen

20. Les Kinnane (multiple sports)

GIVEN he received nine life memberships during his wonderful sporting service, Kinnane belongs in the top echelon of Ipswich officials.

The multiple roles Kinnane performed, before his passing a month short of his 69th birthday in 2012, were testament to his commitment. His years of service in a range of sports will be long celebrated.

From one of Ipswich's best known sporting families, Kinnane was a wonderful coach, linked closely to his 48 years as a teacher and his outstanding community spirit.

Growing up in Ipswich from an early age, he started his teaching career at Blair State School in 1963, before stints at Amberley, Kruger, Ipswich Central and providing a supply service before his untimely departure.

He fulfilled multiple roles coaching children in many sports while also having important administrative roles at school and club level. He became a state coach.

Kinnane was secretary of the Ipswich Primary Schools Sports Association for a decade, heavily involved in organising swimming and athletics carnivals, all while managing representative teams to state championship level.

Kinnane was President groundsman at the Len Johnson Oval from 1980, a venue that virtually became a second home.

He was an avid and highly regarded leader with the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association, Ipswich Schoolboys Cricket Coaching Squad and Ipswich Primary School cricket.

Kinnane's extensive sporting reach spread to Ipswich Brothers and Hancocks hockey. He helped community sport through regular fundraising venture at the Ipswich RSL and Raceview Tavern. He also had strong links to umpires and served on judiciaries.

Ray Leschke, another long-serving friend and dedicated sporting official, summed up how much Kinnane appreciated helping others.

"He was proud of his city and very proud to be a Queenslander,'' Leschke said. "A lasting memory for all of us will be the Maroon Blazer he wore to sport functions, with more badges on the lapel than one could readily count.''

One of Kinnane's most treasured life membership badges was for Queensland Primary School Sport.

In 2000, Kinnane was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his service to cricket.

 

Ipswich sporting great Les Kinnane received nine life memberships.
Ipswich sporting great Les Kinnane received nine life memberships.

Tomorrow: More sporting excellence revealed.