Women's Rugby League World Cup - Semi Finals
Women's Rugby League World Cup - Semi Finals

Revealed: Iconic Ipswich families create mighty dynasties

OVER many decades, Ipswich has been home to some of the finest sporting empires in Australia.

From international footballers, rugby league players and baseballers to well-known cricketers, swimming icons and hockey achievers, the region has provided some exceptional moments.

In the latest QT sporting series, 34 of the best Ipswich sporting dynasties are celebrated, highlighting many memorable moments and sharing some successful family traits.

Five more dedicated Ipswich families are showcased in today's fourth part.

Ipswich Hockey Association president Margret Mantell is proud of her strong family connection to the sport. Picture: Rob Williams
Ipswich Hockey Association president Margret Mantell is proud of her strong family connection to the sport. Picture: Rob Williams

15. MANTELL/WOODFORD families: Playing together with unique connection

RECORD-breaking Hancocks hockey player Greg Woodford considered himself reliable rather than a star during more than 700 A-Grade games.

The popular fullback nicknamed "Woody'' was one of Ipswich hockey's longest serving and most successful players.

During his 20 year senior career, he scored more than 240 club goals and netted 52 times in 189 Ipswich intercity games.

The Brassall electrician made a Queensland under-21, senior or state country side nearly even year from 1975 to his venture into masters hockey.

He represented the Australian Veterans team in Seoul in 1997.

What many people may have forgotten is that Greg made his A-Grade debut at 15 in a side featuring Barry Dancer, a man who became a world class player and coach.

That Hancocks side won 11 consecutive premierships.

Ipswich hockey great Greg Woodford with son Tim. Hockey was always in the Woodford family blood.
Ipswich hockey great Greg Woodford with son Tim. Hockey was always in the Woodford family blood.

Greg had a stint with Bremer before returning to Hancocks to finish his A-Grade career. His last game was in 2005 aged 49.

It's little wonder then than Woody is part of an extended Cushing-Mantell-Woodford clan that collectively achieved decades of success in the sport.

Members of the Mantell/Woodford/Cushing families.
Members of the Mantell/Woodford/Cushing families.

Greg's sons Luke, Andrew and Tim rose through the hockey ranks together. They even played some Reserve Grade hockey with Greg at the end of his career.

The Woodford brothers started their careers at Blair State School with Luke getting to play at Karalee State School, where his Mantell cousins Adam, Daniel and Chris attended.

Luke, Andrew and Tim went on to regularly play together in different divisions, linking with cousins Adam, Daniel and Chris.

They were dubbed "The Six Pack'' at one stage for being regular teammates at Easts.

Former Australian Country captain Chris Mantell receives an excellence award from Ipswich's international coaching achiever Barry Dancer.
Former Australian Country captain Chris Mantell receives an excellence award from Ipswich's international coaching achiever Barry Dancer.

Chris was a former Australian Country captain and South West Queensland representative at Super League tournaments.

Daniel was a leading goal scorer for Easts and Adam was a dependable defensive player who won a national title with the undefeated Queensland under-15 team.

Adam made his A-Grade debut for Easts, aged 14 in 1997.

The Mantell brothers' mum Margret is the daughter of long-serving former Ipswich Hockey Association president John Cushing.

Margret later took over the association presidency from her dad.

Denise Woodford was also a major influence in the early years when the six talented brothers and cousins united at Easts.

Ipswich representative player Denise began her hockey career with Wanderers, which then turned into Easts Wanderers.

She won an A-Grade premiership with the club before moving to Hancocks where she also shared in A Grade title glory.

Luke, now 36, is married to Jodi-Lea Woodford (nee Parkes). She played for Hancocks.

Luke made his A-Grade debut with Easts in 2002. He later had stints with Hancocks and Bremer before rejoining Easts in 2009.

Luke, a nurse unit manager at Ipswich Hospital, is part of the Easts' 500 club.

Andrew, now 33, is married to Chloe (nee Newton).

Chloe's father Mick has been heavily involved in Norths Rugby League Club for many years.

Andrew began playing for Easts in 1994, climbing through the ranks into senior hockey in 2002.

Andrew, who works for Ladbrokes, had a stint with Hancocks, returning to Easts A Grade after some time off.

Tim, 32, is married to Alyssa Woodford (nee Beasley). Alyssa and her family were heavily involved in Easts and Ipswich hockey for many years.

Alyssa's uncle Scott coached Tim a number of times during his representative career.

Tim also started at Easts making his A-Grade debut in 2003. Like his brothers, he moved to Hancocks and Bremer before rejoining Easts in 2009.

Easts hockey player Tim Woodford.
Easts hockey player Tim Woodford.

Regional HPE teacher Tim has played 500 games and scored 600 goals for Easts.

Tim said it was always great fun playing club and representative hockey with his brothers and cousins.

"I can remember a lot of junior state championships with myself, Chris and Andrew in the same team,'' Tim said.

"I also remember playing in the first ever game on the artificial turf at Briggs Road. It was a Friday night B grade (under 18 competition) game where I believe all six of us played in 2000.

"In the 2013 season, all six of us played in the same A-Grade side.''

Dan Mantell. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Dan Mantell. Picture: Cordell Richardson

The early games were played in the backyard.

"With the Mantells and Woodfords getting together every other weekend to hang out it was inevitable that you would create uncanny understanding of how everyone plays the game,'' Tim said.

"So when we all went out on the hockey field, be it all six of us or just a few of us on the same team, it felt we just had a connection where words didn't even need to be spoken. We just knew what was going on and what each other was about to do.''

The Mantell/Woodford connection continues to grow with John and Una Cushing having eight great granddaughters and six great grandsons.

 

 

 

Ipswich and Australian Jillaroos rugby league star Ali Brigginshaw. Picture: Brad Cooper
Ipswich and Australian Jillaroos rugby league star Ali Brigginshaw. Picture: Brad Cooper

 

14. BRIGGINSHAW family: Leading the way taking charge

NATURAL leader Ali Brigginshaw is as humble and fiercely loyal as they come.

That's why one of the world's best rugby league players continues to be an outstanding ambassador for Ipswich.

Apart from her never-ending onfield successes, Ali always makes time to promote her sport and inspire the next generation of female footballers.

She has guided Australia to two World Cup victories and captained the Brisbane Broncos team to three consecutive Women's National Rugby League competition grand final triumphs.

The player of the 2017 World Cup final has also been a terrific servant for Queensland sides.

Broncos captain Ali Brigginshaw with the 2020 NRLW Premiership Trophy. Picture: Richard Walker
Broncos captain Ali Brigginshaw with the 2020 NRLW Premiership Trophy. Picture: Richard Walker

She again played a pivotal role in Queensland's first interstate win over NSW on the Sunshine Coast this season.

But she's never forgotten where she comes from. Ipswich born and bred Ali regularly attends schools, encouraging the next generation to achieve their sporting dreams.

Ali is a wonderful story of persistence, juggling work and training to represent her country at a time before women players started to earn more respect and financial assistance.

Making her Queensland and Australian Jillaroos debut in 2009, the former Raceview State School and Bremer State High School student helped lay the platform for greater recognition for women's rugby league players.

Ali Brigginshaw in her Ipswich Brothers jersey.
Ali Brigginshaw in her Ipswich Brothers jersey.

The Norths junior and current Brothers representative player had to endure injury setbacks, including breaking her right fibula in three places playing for South East Queensland. She took up boxing to improve her stamina, also showing promise in the ring with an Australian Golden Gloves novice title.

Before making her name in league, she was an Australian touch football representative growing up in Ripley.

Ali's father Larry was also a highly respected halfback during his 106 games for the Easts Tigers. He captained the Tigers to a premiership success in 1983.

Former Ipswich and state footballer Larry Brigginshaw
Former Ipswich and state footballer Larry Brigginshaw

Larry was a Queensland representative in 1979. He toured the UK with the state team in 1983 in a team featuring Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga, Gene Miles and Paul Vautin. That side was coached by Arthur Beetson.

Larry also played for Newtown in the 1980 NSW Rugby League competition.

Ali said a piece of advice from Larry continued to serve her well. That was: "Don't stand back, you're the one that's I charge out there.''

Ali's class on the field impressed Australian great Andrew Johns so much, he rated her the best halfback in the world after an All Stars game on the Gold Coast.

"I've seen her play three or four times,'' Johns said.

"All the principles I try to teach the halves, she was already doing.

"She understood timing, space, when to pass, when to run. She was a natural footy player.''

 

Former Ipswich Musketeers pitching great Keith Suthers Snr
Former Ipswich Musketeers pitching great Keith Suthers Snr

13. SUTHERS family: Pitching in with remarkable service

SPORTING all-rounder Keith Suthers Snr set the perfect family example.

He excelled during a wonderful era when the old Spring Street baseball ground was his second home.

Keith Snr will be long remembered as "a real gentleman'' and a proud family man.

The Musketeers life member and Baseball Queensland Hall of Fame inductee left a valuable legacy after passing in 2016, aged 81.

Keith was a member of the original Musketeers team in 1954.

The highly regarded starting pitcher and administrator played his entire club career with Musketeers, from the foundation days until the 1980s.

He represented Queensland as a pitcher and was a handy batter from 1961-63, 1964 and in 1969. He played in the Whatmore Cup for Ipswich and Claxton Shield for Queensland.

The popular sporting identity held executive positions with Musketeers, including about 25 years as secretary. He had a short stint as president before his sons took on other important club roles.

While baseball was the game he excelled in, Keith Snr had many other sporting achievements.

They included representing Ipswich in Slade Shield and 4BK cricket competitions during the 1960s and playing for Brothers A grade side (1950-1960s).

In tennis, he played pennant grade in the 1960s, also winning A-Grade singles titles.

He represented Ipswich in table tennis as a junior.

Keith Snr was particularly proud of his sons Keith, Greg and David, who continued the family legacy he started after switching from cricket to baseball in the 1950s.

Keith Snr and his wife Claire's daughters Kaye, Jan and Cathie were also scorers along with son Greg's wife Tracy.

Keith Snr never strayed far from his East Ipswich sporting venue.

"He used to mow the ground,'' former Musketeers manager and life member Brian Zeidler said of Ipswich's former baseball headquarters.

"His whole family looked after Spring Street. That was his pride and joy.

"He just loved his family.''

Ipswich Musketeers great Keith Suthers Jnr
Ipswich Musketeers great Keith Suthers Jnr

Among the dedicated family members was Keith Suthers Junior, who was also inducted into the Baseball Queensland Hall of Fame.

Nicknamed Kong, the electrician hosted some great baseball parties at his Eastern Heights home.

Although he didn't reach international heights, Keith Jnr was among the state's most tenacious and reliable baseballers.

Keith Jnr rated sharing in Queensland's first Claxton Shield success in Sydney in 1982 as among his favourite moments.

However, the first baseman will always treasure being part of Ipswich Musketeers most successful era.

After starting at the club aged 10, he went on to help Musketeers win four consecutive A-Grade premierships between the 1986 and 1990 summer seasons.

His first A-Grade win was most satisfying, ending the club's 19 year premiership drought.

Ipswich Musketeers player and coach Greg Suthers.
Ipswich Musketeers player and coach Greg Suthers.

Younger brother Greg was one of Ipswich's most potent pitchers for four decades.

He had his number 22 Musketeers shirt retired when his playing career ended in 2015. No-one in senior baseball can now wear that number in honour of Greg's loyalty and outstanding club service.

Greg also devoted considerable time and effort to club official roles and coaching.

He shared in previous Musketeers premierships, being a stalwart along with brothers Keith and David, and former Ipswich international players like Peter Vogler, Paul Coogan, Peter Wood and Steve Hinton.

Ipswich Musketeers baseballer David Suthers
Ipswich Musketeers baseballer David Suthers

Youngest brother David maintained the tremendous Suthers legacy by also playing A-Grade for many years and serving in a number of official club capacities.

Like his brothers and father, David was one of the most loyal and dedicated baseballers always looking to improve the sport from the grassroots up.

 

 

Ipswich swimming icon Jim Gardiner
Ipswich swimming icon Jim Gardiner

12. GARDINER family: 'Gentleman Jim' inspired incredible deeds

AS the "Father of Ipswich swimming'', Jim Gardiner was one of the city's most respected and admired sporting figures.

During 60 years of coaching, the Vikings Swimming Club founder taught an estimated 25,000 children how to save themselves and be comfortable in the water.

As Jim's daughter Cecile Broom recalls, he also looked after nurses.

"One of my earliest memories of the old pool in Bell Street was when I would have been about five years old,'' Cecile said.

"Dad was entrusted with the task of teaching nurses to swim before they went overseas to war.

"It was probably 1942 and I was very important, as I dived off the steps and showed them how to do the plunge and do paddle.

"He was known for his wonderful patience and I'm sure the nurses who went overseas appreciated his efforts.''

Cecile recalls how her dad later taught many others, including parents, to swim at the Jim Gardiner Pool.

Ipswich swimming greats Jim Gardiner (left) and Digger Murphy.
Ipswich swimming greats Jim Gardiner (left) and Digger Murphy.

"Gentleman Jim'' joined with other veterans of his time, such as Charles "Digger" Murphy, to raise donations for many years. Their work enabled the construction of what became the Jim Gardiner Pool Swim Centre at Limestone Park.

Prior to the opening of the pool in 1961, Ipswich only had a 33 yard pool at the Old Town Baths in Bell Street near the David Trumpy Bridge.

The old pool was nearly always murky, being topped up with Bremer River water every Monday and Thursday.

 

The Jim Gardiner pool that served Ipswich well for so many years.
The Jim Gardiner pool that served Ipswich well for so many years.

The new public pool honouring Jim at Limestone Park provided decades of enjoyment.

Jim was a humble man, proud of his working class roots.

He died on August 6, 1990, a month short of his 87th birthday.

"His love of swimming has been passed down to the many generations of Gardiners,'' Cecile said.

That includes Cecile's brothers and children, who became lifesavers at Currumbin Surf Club.

Great grandson Jason Brennan became president of the Vikings Swimming Club, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2015.

Cecile was also proud of how Peter Gardiner, her eldest brother's son, became highly involved with the Coolum Surf Club.

Peter's brother John continued the legacy with success in masters swimming.

Cecile has been a successful bowler throughout her life, serving as president and playing Pennants for United Bowls Club Ladies for many years.

Jim's sons Lester and Phil played A Grade rugby league for Ipswich.

Phil was a talented lock forward for Booval Swifts.

Lester was a tough, fast winger for Swifts, Railways and West End.

Lester's sons John, Bill and Peter enjoyed diverse sporting success.

Successful masters swimmer John Gardiner
Successful masters swimmer John Gardiner

John played schoolboy rugby league for Queensland and swam for his state in the Australian titles in 1972. He won a silver medal in the Australian Open Men's 100 metres freestyle relay.

John also represented Queensland in surf life saving at national titles from 1970-73.

John later maintained his passion in the pool as a successful masters swimmer for many years.

Brother Bill was a talented rugby league playmaker for Queensland during his high school years. Bill went on to represent Queensland in Australian titles throughout the first half of the 1970s as a surf swimmer and beach sprinter.

Bill passed away in 2015 after a long and successful sporting and business life.

Former West End rugby league player Peter Gardiner.
Former West End rugby league player Peter Gardiner.

Youngest brother Peter was a talented and loyal rugby league player with strong West End ties.

The highly regarded journalist and sports editor at The Queensland Times would often return to the West Ipswich office on Sunday afternoons after playing footy with the Bulldogs.

After many years writing stories in Ipswich, Peter moved to the Sunshine Coast to revive his aquatic pursuits.

Peter remains a patrolling member of Coolum Surf Club where he has been made a life member.

The club appointed Peter to write the history of Coolum Surf Club, an illustrated book entitled The Chronicles of Coolum Surf Club.

Peter refused payment for his more than three years of work and research on his popular project.

Brothers John, Bill and Peter also made a late comeback to competitive swimming as part of the senior Vikings men's relay team to win gold at the Ipswich Championships.

Another of Jim's grandsons Michael Gardiner played in premiership-winning rugby league sides for Norths during the 1980s.

Michael was an excellent league player and popular at Norths for many years.

 

Ipswich football great Kevin Caldwell
Ipswich football great Kevin Caldwell

11. CALDWELL family: Earning highest respect in the big leagues

COALSTARS teammate Andy Ogden saw first hand how organized and accomplished former National League footballer Kev Caldwell was.

"Kev was genuinely old school,'' Ogden said, having played with defender Caldwell in the late 1980s.

"His professionalism, his desire didn't waiver. He wanted to win and he would play like he was playing against the champions and you learnt off him as a young a fella.

"You learnt that you don't take liberties with anybody and you've got to earn the respect.

"He was a real good leader.''

Ipswich football greats Andy Ogden (left) and Kev Caldwell.
Ipswich football greats Andy Ogden (left) and Kev Caldwell.

Caldwell started his career with Coalstars, becoming the club's first Rothmans Medal winner in 1974.

He played more than 100 NSL matches with Brisbane City, winning two Australia Cup medals before returning to Ipswich to play with Ipswich United in 1982 and his first club Coalstars following that.

He represented Queensland eight times.

Another former teammate Brett Kitching also observed Caldwell dominate opposition players for two decades.

"I watched him when I was a young'un, played against him through the 80s, and played with him for one season when I played for Coalstars in 1990,'' Kitching said.

"He was very fast and hard gaining the nickname of 'Butch' early on.

"I have always rated him in my top three Ipswich players of the past 50 years - along with Jeff Dann and Ian Lawrie.

"Each of those three were different styles of players but all talented, superb to watch, and tough to play against.''

Caldwell was a striker early on before switching to fullback or winger for Azzurri in the national league competition. He finished as a visionary sweeper for Coalstars in the mid 1990s.

"I remember watching him play for Coalstars against Hellenic around 1970 and he was the go-to striker,'' Kitching said.

"He was too fast and scored five goals that day I reckon in a win of about 6-0.''

In the early 1980s, Caldwell moved back to Ipswich. He played with Ipswich United before moving back to Coalstars in 1983/84.

"I played against him for Townsville when we won the 1982 Ampol Cup beating Ipswich United at Ebbw Vale though if Kev had of started the match I reckon it could have been a different result,'' Kitching recalls.

"For some reason he was on the bench and was brought on with 15 minutes to play when Townsville were winning 2-0.

"He created havoc immediately, scored a goal and then missed a penalty trying to dig the ball out of the hole of a penalty spot.

"He then played in the preliminary final when Ipswich beat us at a rain soaked Perry Park and he played in the grand final for a win over Mt Gravatt that year of 1982.''

Caldwell was also in Coalstars 1986 Ampol Cup/grand final winning side.

Ogden also coached Kev's son Ken as he rose from under-16 to first team football.

Centre back Ken displayed plenty of ability.

Kitching agreed.

"I remember Kenny at the Knights as a hardworking and skilful versatile midfielder around the time that the Knights kicked off in 1998,'' he said.

With Kev's daughter Toni becoming an international basketball referee, the Caldwell family has showcased its fine sporting pedigree since the 1970s.

Long-serving National Basketball League referee Toni Caldwell. Picture: Anna Rogers
Long-serving National Basketball League referee Toni Caldwell. Picture: Anna Rogers

Toni recently retired from refereeing National Basketball League games, after 13 years at the top.

Popularly known as TC, the marriage celebrant was a basketball referee trailblazer in every regard.

The Ipswich born and bred sportswoman was the only female referee in the league for many years.

During more than a decade in the NBL, 165cm tall Toni had to officiate against some giant players and often had to settle some differences.

However, she didn't feel intimidated by the men's basketballers.

"I've never really had to stand up to them because there's always been a mutual respect,'' the former Bundamba Primary and Bremer State High School student said.

One of Toni's best attributes is her calming manner on people. She's also respectful of the players, willing to learn from mistakes.

She started her career at Ipswich Basketball.

Her national level refereeing career blossomed after officiating at the 2009 Youth Olympics in Sydney.

Free of NBL responsibilities, the former Queensland Times photographer and well-travelled designer is looking forward to sharing time with her father at the track, playing golf, fishing and at the beach.

She is proud of her achievements, having served in the Queensland Basketball League for five years before being promoted to the NBL.

Toni has also officiated around the world. Her major tournaments include under-17 world championships in France and Amsterdam, the 2013 women's world titles in Turkey, and the World University Games in Russia. She officiated the gold medal game at that tournament.

NEXT SERIES: The countdown enters the top 10