Ipswich Musketeers latest life member and club president Jon Campbell. Picture: David Lems
Ipswich Musketeers latest life member and club president Jon Campbell. Picture: David Lems

Life member shares success, challenges and wise advice

HE'S loyal, respectful, people minded, family focused and eager to preserve Ipswich's all-important sporting identity.

Long-serving Musketeers player, coach and official Jon Campbell has all the right ingredients to deserve a life membership.

Although surprised to receive the off-season baseball accolade, the current club president accepted it with pride.

"I was pretty emotional,'' he said, joining some of the city's most dedicated administrators from past decades.

"Especially when I reflect back on it, I've been around a while.

"I remember pretty much most of the life members.''

Having started as a player aged nine, Campbell has served the club for more than 50 years.

The former second baseman played in five A-Grade grand finals, sharing in four consecutive Musketeers victories in the late 1980s.

He also represented Queensland for two years in the highly competitive Claxton Shield competition and was chosen to represent a national team against Japan.

Campbell came through with other nationally recognised baseballers like Paul Coogan, Peter Wood, Keith Suthers and Shayne Watson.

Queensland dominated the Claxton Shield during that era.

He wore the Australian jersey playing for an Aussie Select side against Japan in Brisbane and Lismore.

"We won a couple of games,'' he said of that experience in 1982/83.

Ipswich Musketeers baseball stalwart Jon Campbell. Picture: QT file
Ipswich Musketeers baseball stalwart Jon Campbell. Picture: QT file

While highlights from "the glory days'' remain etched in his memory, Campbell knows his current term as president is equally important.

"Getting enough people to put their hand up to help,'' he answered when asked what was the toughest part of being a sporting administrator.

"There's a lot of different sports now than when we were younger.

"It's a challenge to keep getting kids and players and participants and new members.''

Ipswich has an outstanding record of producing state, national and international baseballers.

Musketeers have long been represented in major tournaments from state to Olympics level.

"In those glory days as we call them, baseball was probably better known,'' he said.

"The ABL (Australian Baseball League) wasn't around.

"In the old days, we played Claxton Shield (representing Queensland) for two weeks but that was all there was and then we went back to club ball and the best players played club ball.

"It was a pretty big spectator sport back then.''

Jon Campbell. Picture: David Lems
Jon Campbell. Picture: David Lems

Launching into a new Greater Brisbane League (GBL) season, Campbell was pleased Musketeers last season finally secured a new batting cage at the Tivoli Sporting Complex.

"That was huge, especially for training the kids,'' he said. "Trying to fast track the kids' development.''

He also thanked Ipswich City Council for maintaining the club's two diamonds.

Before becoming president in 2014, he had a short stint on the Musketeers committee while coaching kids, senior and state junior teams.

He had earlier played A-Grade seriously until he was 36 before having a break then helping out the lower grade Musketeers teams.

The keen sportsman also won rugby league grand finals playing in the centres for Swifts in 1990 and 1991 - one against West End and the other against Brothers.

He played both sports every year until he was 21 when rugby league and baseball had more clear-cut winter-summer seasons than now.

Former second baseman Jon Campbell. Picture: QT file
Former second baseman Jon Campbell. Picture: QT file

But after juggling the two sports for a number of years, he decided to concentrate on baseball trying to make the Queensland Claxton Shield team.

Years later, he became more active again as a club president.

"I didn't want to see the club go down,'' he said.

"The thing that drove me was I wanted my kids and other people's kids to have the same opportunities I had when I played.''

He was also concerned about talk centred on Musketeers aligning with baseball neighbours Wests.

"I was dead against that,'' he said. "Not because I had an issue with Wests. It was just we had our own history and Wests had their own history.''

Proud of his Ipswich origins, the Yamanto resident said Musketeers deserved to retain its own identity.

Campbell now works closely with his wife Denise and children Andrew and Lyndsey in various roles, including official duties and coaching.

He appreciates having Denise "always around to assist''.

The Musketeers club president is also grateful to have received support from other stalwarts like the Suthers family..

He took on the presidency in 2013/14 after Keith and David Suthers when their brother Greg was secretary.

"Greg Suthers was always a good shoulder to lean on,'' Campbell said.

"He has good knowledge of the history.

"Greg is very smart.''

Former Ipswich GBL coach and long-time Musketeers player and supporter Greg Suthers. Picture: Rob Williams
Former Ipswich GBL coach and long-time Musketeers player and supporter Greg Suthers. Picture: Rob Williams

As for his qualities, Campbell enjoys being out with sporting colleagues and players.

"I like to get involved with people,'' he said. "Just get out there and have a drink and mix with the people.

"What has helped me a little bit is because I've been around so long, I've got a lot of contacts in baseball outside of our club, and that's just by association - playing with and against guys over the years.''

Despite baseball's ongoing challenges, he is heartened that the Musketeers are still playing in the GBL Division 1 competition.

This season's side features some homegrown talent being developed for the future.

"We've got some good kids in the lower 12, 13, 14 year age groups that we're just waiting to come through in the next two-three years,'' he said.

After the COVID winter shutdown, Campbell hopes everyone returns refreshed and eager to build more Musketeers success.

That is particularly like last season's first senior women's team which won the GBL grand final to cap a memorable season.

"That's been a good thing. It just came out of nowhere,'' Campbell said.

"Its sort of revitalised the club a little bit because there's a lot of interest in the women.

"Its created new members I suppose and we have a lot of people come and watch and socialise and have a few drinks.''

Ipswich now has two womens's sides in the latest GBL competition - a Musketeers Red and Blue outfit.

As all the Muskets teams step up their 2020/21 campaigns, Campbell relates to two motivating factors.

One is a piece of advice from his father Andy that "always respect your coach, train hard . . . and hard work always be rewarded no matter what you do - whether's in a job or sport.''

The second is why baseball is such a terrific game to be involved with.

"It's one of the hardest games mentally shen you are batting,'' Campbell said.

"In football, you miss a tackle and two seconds and it's over.

"In baseball, everyone is looking at you and it doesn't go away until you get the next ball and it comes straight back at you again, so it really tests you.''

Campbell remains fiercely loyal and proud of his Ipswich achievements.

"To continue what we used to do and what I've done, I get a lot of joy out of that,'' he said.

HONOUR BOARD

Ipswich Musketeers life members

Present: Ken Hogan, Big Jim Hogan, Graham Smith, Brian Zeidler, Robyn Zeidler, Joe McDonald, Keith Muller, Jon Campbell.

Passed away: Little Jim Hogan, Keith Suthers Snr, Claire Suthers, Keith Davies, Maureen Davies, Rusty Crane, Nev Hunt, Val Coleman, Darryl Coleman, Harry Stathis, Danny Ludwig, Clive Jones, John Howells, Vick Watson, Mal Bool, Thompson McDonald, Allan Suthers, Audrey Thorburn.

Foundation members: Ken Hogan, Neil Bradley.