QT rugby league columnist Michael Nunn with two Ipswich-bred greats Gary Parcell and Noel Kelly. Parcell and Kelly were two-thirds of the Australian team's front row in 1960.
QT rugby league columnist Michael Nunn with two Ipswich-bred greats Gary Parcell and Noel Kelly. Parcell and Kelly were two-thirds of the Australian team's front row in 1960.

Revealed: Ipswich’s best rugby league team of all time


Michael Nunn

WHAT names would you include in the best ever Ipswich side?

Who would be in the front row? Would Alfie Langer make your side?

Rugby League has been played in Ipswich since 1909. League is as Ipswich as the Bremer River coal dust, St. Mary and Jacaranda trees.

However, who is our best? If you could pick from anyone to represent our city who would make your line up.

Cecil Aynsley, Denis Flannery, Allan Langer, Jimmy Craig, Duncan Thompson and Noel Kelly made the Queensland Team of the Century and Kelly backed up again in the Australian Team of the Century.

However, would they make the Ipswich team?

I sat down with some knowledgeable Ipswich league followers to come up with a side to wear green and white forever.

Gary Coyne: 159 NRL games for Canberra Raiders, two NRL premierships, 11 Origins, two Test matches, Jet # 16, Wynnum 49 games and 1984 premiership, Booval Swifts 1981 premiership.

His side: 1. Neil Brigginshaw, 2. Jeff Denman, 3. Col Dwyer, 4. Jim Craig, 5. Dennis Flannery, 6. Kevin Walters, 7. Allan Langer, 8. Rod Morris, 9. Steve Walters, 10. Dud Beattie, 11. Des Morris, 12. Noel Kelly, 13. Ian Robson, 14. John White, 15. Gary Parcell, 16. Dan Dempsey, 17. Monty Heidke.

Vince Coyne: Ipswich Rugby League stalwart. When he heard the task, he picked a team for the 'older' fans and a team for the 'younger' people.

Oldies: 1. Harry Linde, 2. Dennis Flannery, 3. Bill Pearson, 4. Jim Craig, 5. Cec Aynsley, 6. Frank Doonar, 7. Hec Gee, 8. Gary Parcell, 9. Noel Kelly, 10. Dud Beattie, 11. Monty Heidke, 12. Dan Dempsey, 13. Doug McLean, 14. Vic Hey, 15. J Gayler, 16. Rod Griffiths, 17. Bill Paten

Youngies: 1. Peter Lobegeiger, 2. Jeff Denman, 3. Col Dwyer, 4. Viv Waterson, 5. Nev Linde, 6. Kevin Walters, 7. Allan Langer, 8. Kevin Stevens, 9. Steve Walters, 10. Rod Morris, 11. Des Morris, 12. Dave Roderick, 13. Ian Robson, 14. Gary Coyne, 15. Kerrod Walters, 16. Don Barrett, 17. Hugh O'Doherty.

Allan Langer was one of the first choices in all the Ipswich teams named. Picture: Anthony Weate
Allan Langer was one of the first choices in all the Ipswich teams named. Picture: Anthony Weate

Dirk Tazelaar: Jet # 31, 79 cricket games for Queensland and 277 wickets.

His team: 1. Ray Kelly, 2. Jeff Denman, 3. Brett Walters, 4. John White, 5. Denis Flannery, 6. Kev Walters, 7. Allan Langer (c), 8. Dud Beattie, 9. Noel Kelly, 10. Gary Parcell, 11. Des Morris 12. Ian Robson, 13. Gary Coyne, 14. Larry Brigginshaw, 15. Hugh O'Doherty 16. Jim Foreman (Snr), 17. Rod Morris.

John Brown: West End, Norths Devils two premierships, six first-class games for Queensland cricket and 1969 Rothmans' Medal rugby league winner, eight games for Queensland and one Test.

His team: 1. Eric Fraunfelder, 2. Dennis Flannery, 3. Joe Wilson, 4. Viv Waterson, 5. Bill Paten, 6. Frank Doonar, 7. Allan Langer, 8. Babe Collins, 9. Les Heidke, 10. Dan Dempsey, 11. Dud Beattie, 12. Noel Kelly, 13. Gary Parcell, 14. Jim Craig, 15. Harry Linde, 16. Les Sellars, 17. Rod Morris.

Steve Ricketts: Retired chief rugby league writer for The Courier-Mail, and QRL History Committee (www. stevericketts.com.au)

His team: 1. Eric Frauenfelder, 2. Denis Flannery, 3. Brian 'Tiger' Walsh, 4. Jim Craig, 5. Cec Aynsley, 6. Kevin Walters, 7. Allan Langer, 8. Rod Morris, 9. Steve Walters, 10. Noel Kelly, 11, Gary Parcell, 12. Dud Beattie, 13. Des Morris (c). Inter-change: Hec Gee, Dan Dempsey, Gary Coyne, Jason Hetherington. Coach: Des Morris.

Thorn's truly remarkable two-code career

EVEN a 17-trophy career starts with a first one.

Sometime in the future my sons might sit down next to me and ask how much about Brad Thorn is urban legend and how much is true dad.

Like a mythical creature that cannot possibly have achieved all this, some sort of Loch Ness monster that people claim to have seen back in the 1990's. Is it true dad?

Thorn went from the Panthers, Broncos, All Blacks, Broncos, Queensland, Australia, All Blacks, Canterbury Crusaders, Leicester, won a World Cup, first player to win a Super 12 and Heineken Cup - one of four to win an NRL premiership and Super Rugby title - four NRL premierships, two State of Origin series wins and five Bledisloe Cups.

It is all true mate.

Before he was a globetrotting super star, he was a Wests Panther making trips to Ipswich and navigating the Brisbane Rugby League landscape.

"I was playing for Norths Aspley up to Under 15 but the team folded in that age group with boys going different directions," Thorn recalled.

"We were living at Albany Creek and Wests Arana was just over the hill so dad said let's play there.

"I progressed from there to A Grade at Wests."

Reds coach Brad Thorn. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Reds coach Brad Thorn. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Success would start early for a young Thorn when the Panthers won a grand final in 1993 18-12 at Lang Park.

"Wests was a great club, great men. Gary Greinke was a terrific coach,'' Thorn said.

"I started the year in the centres and then moved to front rower so had to adapt and change my mindset and mental toughness.

"I remember against Logan City I got hit high and was a bit dazed but took the kick for touch and missed the sideline

"That Tuesday night at training, we have trained really hard and then Greinke says we are going to do another set of six because Thorny didn't find touch from a penalty

"Wests was tough, old school.

"The Mills brothers, Tony Currie, Adrian Lam it was a great competition to play in.

"I am glad I came up through that system, I didn't go play Under 21's for the Broncos I was in the furnace of Brisbane Rugby League.

"It was that little bit slower than NRL, so the contact was often very big.

"It was against Norths I had already played two games that day and was on the bench for A Grade and Greinke said I could have the starting spot for the year if I really went well today.

"I ripped in and got the spot for the year, I played in the front row at 18."

Tony Currie in his heyday.
Tony Currie in his heyday.

Driving the young Thorn was former international and Wests Rothmans Medal winning superstar from 1982 Tony Currie.

Currie had played 15 State of Origins and seven Tests for Australia, as well as winning two competitions with the Bulldogs and Broncos. Currie had return to Wests to fill the exact role that Thorn needed.

"He was a young tyro in 1993 and a very important cog in our success for that year," Currie said.

"Other than his football I still remember him coming to training in his mother's car.

"It was a tiny hatchback and I always use to say to him 'you better carry a can opener'.

"I thought he was going to get stuck in there, he was so big."

Thorn was about to have the first of that list of achievements.

Wests were the minor premiers by three points, Ipswich were gone in the minor semi-final to Souths 36-4.

Which left Easts, Wests and Souths to fight it out in the finals. Wests would lose to Easts 22-6 in the major semi setting the Tigers up for a week off and the jump on their rivals.

Wests would strike back against Souths and book a grand final spot 15-2 to make their third grand final in a row and gunning for back-to-back the Panthers first since 1975-1976.

Come grand final day a great Easts side coached by John Lang and Paul Green in the half position would be keen to rob Thorn of his premiership.

Paul Green would get the first try for the Tigers but from there it was all red and black as the Panthers army sang and shouted Lang Park down that day.

Four tries to two and the Panthers were done for 1993.

The voice that Thorn would hear behind him all day was Panthers two time premiership half and future Jet Craig Green.

"After his first game I said to Thorny when you play for Australia can I have your shorts?" Green laughed.

"I never got those shorts.

"At a young age he fitted in so well, he was up against some real old head front rowers and handled himself at 18."

Thorn would have to make the trip further West to play against Ipswich in 1993.

"Two things I remember about Ipswich, Kevin Langer was your coach that year and he was just like Alf,'' he said.

"Other thing was Jets Jeremy Schloss won the Rookie of the year, I wanted to win that award so much.

"I remember the QRL presenting him with the award on grand final day that stuck with me."


Brad Thorn. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Brad Thorn. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Thorn would take his Panthers success and his new Broncos contract and arrive at Red Hill ready for the next challenge.

It would not be long into 1994 that a young Brad Thorn would be lining up for the Brisbane Broncos against the Bulldogs on debut.

"I came close to being a Bulldog; I had the contract in front of me and was going to accept it," he said.

"Dad intervened. I was at school and I didn't know he was going to do it but he rang the Broncos just cold called the front office.

"Not too sure who he asked to speak to but they put him through and imagine there was a bit of thinking here is another dad ringing us up.

"He told the Broncos, they should look at his son because he's about to be a Bulldog, and you could imagine the reaction on the other end from the Broncos

"They asked my name and then told dad yes we do know about him.

"I got a meeting with Wayne Bennett and signed with the Broncos for half of the Bulldogs offer."

Thorn would end the year with seven NRL games and the Broncos rookie of the year shared with John Driscoll.

Thorn was well on his way with a premiership and an award from his first two years.

Did they say he played 460 professional games across two codes, 21 years and 17 major trophies.

It is true.

Cooper's stat

BRAD Thorn: FOG #94 - 11 games, four points, 142 runs one line break assists, 219 tackles, 612 minutes played, 1168 run metres, two line breaks, 12 offloads.