‘Keen as mustard’ Bulldogs keep proud footy traditions alive
FROM the hope of having four Ipswich competition teams to a sudden surge of fresh talent and much needed expectation in an expanded league.
West End Rugby League Football Club president John Cochrane is as excited as his players about a return to the field this weekend.
"The boys down at the club have just been as keen as mustard to get back on the paddock,'' he said.
Cochrane is eagerly awaiting the first A-Grade match in the revised six-team competition that is kicking off on Saturday afternoon at the North Ipswich Reserve.
The round one matches are Norths against Gatton (1.30pm), West End v Souths (3.30pm) and Goodna tackling Valleys (5.30pm).
Cochrane praised Mitch Kent, from Queensland Rugby League, and the Rugby League Ipswich board led by chairman Gary Parker for revitalising a 2020 competition.
"It allows everybody to get back a little bit of normality,'' Cochrane said, noting how important footy was to so many people.
"Not like it was 12 months ago but just the fact we can get out on the field and run around.
"The work that the boys did over at Rugby League Ipswich - Gary and Mitch - to pull the comp together has just been just outstanding.
"Now being able to kick a ball in anger on the first of August in a six-team competition is amazing.''
Apart from West End joining regular RLI opponents Norths and Goodna in the shortened season, Cochrane said playing Toowoomba competition sides Valleys, Souths and Gatton would be a welcome new opportunity.
"You'll get good competition against people you've never ever seen before and it benefits both regions really,'' he said.
"Up in Toowoomba, they're like Ipswich. They like their local sport too.
"It will be good to see as many people as we can fit into our grounds turn up to watch.
"From four local clubs to having a six-team competition across two towns, when I told the boys last night, they were even more excited.''
Details were finalised at a meeting of the Ipswich clubs on Thursday night following a Wednesday night discussion with representatives from the three Toowoomba Rugby League sides.
Ten weeks of matches are planned before a round of semi-finals on Sunday, October 11.
The grand final is set down for Sunday, October 18.
The first four rounds will be played at the North Ipswich Reserve with clubs sharing gate takings.
After that, each club in Ipswich and Toowoomba can host a home round of fixtures to bolster their revenue.
Cochrane said the Bulldogs hoped to host the fifth round at the Reserve to make it safer for his volunteers.
He said his players would also enjoy more time at Ipswich's rugby league headquarters, where finals are staged.
"We're hoping to play out of there a lot the next few years,'' he said.
The senior club president said the separate West End juniors were also working hard to field teams in the new competition starting on Friday night.
"I'm happy to support the juniors in getting them back on the paddock as well,'' Cochrane said.
He appreciated the support of West End's 2020 sponsors I Clean Solar, Cash Converters Ipswich, United Sports Club, Todd Brown Air and Electrical.