Top 55 officials: City’s leading achievers stand tall
BEING recognised by peers is an achievement for any sporting official.
Serving a club or organisation can be challenging at the best of times, especially with so many responsibilities.
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 honouring 55 of Ipswich's most loyal and fiercely proud people, their tremendous deeds have been showcased.
Check out the latest group of achievers in a countdown to the top echelon of officials.
19. Greg Hall (rugby league)
THE former Ipswich Rugby League chairman and staunch Fassifern supporter deserved the life membership he received.
Hall passed away in 1995, aged 44, after a long battle with asbestos cancer.
He was a man of many talents with a rugby league dream and focus on hard work. That included writing his autobiography The Ups and Downs of Greg Hall, which he just finished before his untimely death.
Hall had worked in real estate, as an auctioneer and milkman, also managing a farm. But he will be fondly remembered around Ipswich for his devotion to rugby league as a player, coach and administrator.
Widely regarded as a mate of the highest order, Hall only resigned as IRL chairman three days before dying.
"He was probably doing about 100 hours a week at the IRL because he wouldn't go home until all the work was done,'' former IRL and QRL official Peter Betros said.
Hall had been an IRL delegate from 1988, taking on the chairmanship after the late Don Preece suffered a brain haemorrhage in mid 1993.
Under Hall's guidance, the IRL was lifted into a healthy financial position after previous debts with the North Ipswich Reserve Trust.
The A-Grade competition was expanded from seven teams to 10.
The former West End second rower and lock also lined up in Ipswich's Bulimba Cup side in 1971. He was instrumental in revitalising the IRL top grade competition.
With strong supporters like his wife Karen and good friend David Roderick, Hall began coaching Fassifern-Harrisville juniors in 1975. He coached the Fassifern A-Grade team in 1993, also becoming a Fassifern club delegate and president.
18. Des Taege (multiple sports)
REGARDED as one of the Ipswich region's "original immortals,'' Taege was a wonderful role model for so many young people.
Before he lost his decade-long battle with illness, Boonah-born Taege devoted much of his life to school sport.
Taege was a person of the highest calibre, serving the community as a teacher, administrator, coach and selector for more than four decades.
Among the Silkstone State School teacher's long associations was with Ipswich Rugby League, district and state football bodies and the Parents and Old Boys Association. He was chairman of the Queensland Primary Schools rugby league team from 1991-2004.
Taege was Met West regional convenor for rugby league and girls cricket, along with being secretary of the Ipswich Rugby League management committee. He was also chairman of selectors for Ipswich Diggers A and Under-20 sides.
Long-time friend Murray Rogers shared why Taege had such a valuable impact in Ipswich.
"He's done so much," said Rogers, who had known the sporting icon for 35 years.
"He had a love and a passion of kids and sport.
"He did rugby league, he did athletics, he did cricket. He was boots and all into any sport that kids wanted to play because he was just really passionate about seeing kids actively involved in sport.
"He was also a wonderful classroom teacher.''
Taege was also heavily involved in fundraising for the Parents and Old Boys Association that helped many regional kids and organisations.
Taege was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2005 for his voluntary services to school sport, particularly rugby league and cricket from 1958-2005.
17. Jim and Dot Landy (rugby league)
THE popular Ipswich couple have been the backbone of the Jets Rugby League Club for many years.
Jim has been a coach, club secretary, manager and responsible for a lot of club's behind the scenes progress.
Dot is the welcoming face people meet as they walk through the front gate of the North Ipswich Reserve for matches.
She has served as secretary and treasurer, being heavily involved in fundraising ventures.
Together, Jim and Dot have provided incredible service in their various roles since the late 1980s.
They have watched the Jets deal with tough times to share in state league and interstate glory and build stronger financial prospects.
Their focus has always been supporting the Jets culture of making everyone welcome.
"It's always been a great club to get families involved," Jets life member Jim said.
"Players usually play because they love the game.
"There has been an increase in trying to make some money out of the game . . . our club is based strongly on that family environment and a lot of players are drawn to the club because of that."
The couple has seen some fantastic footballers come through the Jets ranks, including Queensland and Australian teammates Allan Langer and Walters brothers Kevin and Kerrod.
"The biggest kick I get out of it is seeing some of the next generation players come through," Jim said.
Jets chairman Steve Johnson is a huge fan of the club-minded couple, who are proud of their Ipswich origins.
"Dottie and Jimmy have endearing personalities and their genuineness and willingness to help people shines through,'' Johnson said.
"When people come to our club, they feel like they are at home.''
16. Norm Baxter (cricket/rugby/vigoro)
THE 2008 funeral of Norm Baxter at the oval named after him will live long in the memories of many regional cricketers.
His coffin was draped in the Australian flag and proudly carried his army medals and a symbolic cricket cap.
It was a tribute to the 84-year-old's incredible life where his role as a cricket official remains among the most valuable.
Baxter's memory lives on at Ivor Marsden Sporting Complex and around other regional grounds through the Norm Baxter Cup T20 series contested each season in his honour.
But the farmer's service to sport extended beyond cricket.
Born in 1924 in Sydney, Baxter came to Ipswich in 1958, starting his years of tremendous service to regional sport in the mid 1960s.
Before being honoured with IWMCA life membership in 1982 and becoming president in the late 1980s, he founded the Redbank Cricket Club. He was also president of the Waysiders cricket and rugby clubs. He contributed a lot of his time and money to his sports.
He was also in the Australian army, worked for 20 years in Ipswich newsagencies and endured farm life at Mutdapilly.
The former Silkstone and Bundamba newsagent was remembered as a straight-shooter, great communicator and for being modest.
"He was an amazing man,'' Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association official Bruce Raleigh said of the administrator who guided regional cricket for decades.
"Norm has always been involved in committees, from cricket to union to vigoro, and always had the respect of all people.
"He never accepted accolades, but was always there to congratulate other people.''
15. Ray Leschke (cricket/school sport)
OFTEN regarded as Ipswich's "Mr Cricket'', Leschke set the highest standards in getting the job done.
However, cricket was just one of the sports Leschke made a valuable contribution to over 50 years.
The former Ipswich representative hockey player and cricketer served multiple sports working as Regional Sports Officer with the Department of Education. He also taught at Ipswich schools.
His love of the game and commitment to developing players at all levels is why Leschke is so highly regarded.
He was instrumental in establishing the Metropolitan West (formerly Brisbane West then West Moreton) Sports Office after fears school sport could be in jeopardy.
He is a life member of various organisations including Queensland Primary School Sport, Ipswich Cricket and the Ipswich Schoolboys Cricket Coaching squad.
His voluntary roles largely centred around cricket where he was treasurer of the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association and caretaker manager of the sports complex at Amberley.
The former Queensland Schoolboys representative also took on a business development manager role with the newly-formed Ipswich Logan Hornets, designed to bolster representative cricket.
Being on the Ipswich Turf Club committee for 15 years, he contributed to Ipswich Cup and other successes.
Leschke also did regular work for charities and non-profit organisations.
As he entered the retirement stage of his life, he wrote a regular Talking Cricket column in the QT.
Ray's son Peter has been carrying on the great work in cricket development.
Peter became president when the Ipswich Logan Hornets were formed eight years ago.
He oversaw the entry of the Hornets into the Brisbane grade competition, along with a million dollar redevelopment of Ivor Marsden Sports Complex and vital commercial sponsorship.
Peter has also been actively involved in the latest merger with the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association, keen to build new pathways for players.
14. Des Johnston (athletics, school sport, golf)
AFTER a career highlight serving as a track umpire at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Johnston displayed his longevity by still being at the top of his game at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
The long-serving Ipswich and District Athletic Club former president, coach and track official was chosen to read the Opening Ceremony oath on behalf of officials. It was a fitting reward for 60 years of athletic involvement.
"I got excited . . . very proud,'' the Flinders View resident said, ruling out any nerves on the international stage.
"They heard a little shake in the voice on one word but other than that it was fine.''
Johnston retired from international duty after the latest Commonwealth Games.
As a track umpire over all those years, he got to experience some incredible athletic moments.
At the Sydney Olympics, he was working when Cathy Freeman strode to a historic victory in the 400m final, sending the Games stadium crowd into euphoria.
"It took about 25 minutes for the crowd to stop erupting and then (American) Michael Johnson came out and duly won his 400,'' Johnston said.
Asked where he was positioned during his important work, he replied: "Here, there and everywhere''.
Johnston had to record any infringements and ensure all rules were followed.
After decades of being involved in elite sport, the Ipswich official was immensely proud to have shared in his final Gold Coast excitement.
The former Ipswich State High, North Ipswich and Ipswich Central school teacher enjoyed his terrific athletic journey.
"It's been a huge privilege to actually work with top-level athletes in the school system and also to take that to the next level once I got out of teaching,'' he said.
Johnston has also served on the board of Queensland Athletics.
Away from athletics, Johnston loved golf and played an important role promoting the game for a number of years. That included through his work writing a column for The Queensland Times.
13. Ken Boettcher (rugby league)
HAVING devoted more than 60 years to sport, Ken Boettcher had an exceptional knowledge of club challenges and achievements.
An underlying factor in Boettcher's life was his loyalty. He sadly passed earlier this year.
From his playing days with Booval Swifts to his retirement as Swifts Sports Club chairman, Boettcher has been one of Ipswich's most committed sporting figures.
As an official, he tackled challenges like his time at Swifts purchasing and selling grounds, dealing with diminished sponsorship pools and financial hurdles that many progressive sporting clubs do.
However, Boettcher summed up his attitude in a couple of sentences.
"A lot of people don't look ahead but I've always looked forward,'' the former Silkstone resident said. "It just came along and some of those jobs became a bit of an obsession.''
A list of those jobs, and associated work, fill up nearly six pages of A4 paper.
He was Swifts Sports Club board chairman for 13 years after stints since 1956 as secretary, patron and president with the Bluebirds.
He was named a life member of Booval Swifts Rugby League Football Club and, in 2006, was inducted into the Swifts Hall of Fame.
Boettcher was also recognised by the South East Queensland Division and in the Ipswich Australia Day awards for his outstanding service.
Much of his early work was at Swifts' former headquarters in Joyce Street, East Ipswich, which is now the home of Ipswich vigoro.
Boettcher played a leading role in the club's move to Purga, securing the new site.
He worked as a chemist in the Ipswich CBD, before a stint in real estate from 1971.
Even during a period of "retirement'' at the Gold Coast, he continued to be actively involved in the Swifts club and Ipswich Old Boys Association.
His love of rugby league was carried on through his family.
Former Ipswich Rugby League chairman Mark and current Rugby League Ipswich board member Darren were two of five boys. Gary, Brett and Craig also played for Swifts.
12. Trish Kinnane (athletics)
THE Ipswich club and international official has seen just about everything during her time in athletics.
She is recognised as one of Queensland's leading officials at national, Oceania, Commonwealth Games and Olympic levels.
Being a chief judge in the call room, Kinnane was like a customs officer at an airport. She worked with athletes to ensure they followed the correct procedures before entering a competition arena. That included everything from checking their shoes and length of spikes to advertising on their clothing and any medical needs for people.
But whether it was at an Olympics or local track and field meeting, Kinnane applied her decades of experience to remain calm and professional.
One of the highlights for the Raceview resident was being appointed a call room judge at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
She also served at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and as a technical officer or administration manager at Oceania Games and other elite competitions.
True to her home city loyalty, she only missed one Ipswich Winter Carnival in 27 years.
She is a life member of the Ipswich and District Athletic Club and Queensland Athletics.
Her outstanding contribution to athletics was recognised in 2008 with an Athletics Australia merit award. During her extensive athletic career, she was an administration manager for state and national championships in the 1980s and 1990s.
From a family of dedicated officials in a range of sports, the Queensland Athletics board member was also highly regarded as a teacher and deputy principal.
The former St Edmund's College educator enjoyed every aspect of athletics, especially working with junior teams.
"For me, the satisfaction is the athletes I've had in Australian teams and having them still come in through the call room,'' she said.
"The kids I had when they were 15 and they are now in their late twenties and to see them continue in the sport.
"You share in their highs and lows.''
The experienced official has also taken a broader interest in the Oceania region, helping countries like Samoa, the Cook Islands and Guam.
"It's a lot different. We sort of go into the federations and our job is to train the local people in that particular area of our expertise,'' she said.
But wherever Trish travels, she never loses sight of being from Ipswich, gaining support from a dedicated family of achievers.
11. Paul Casos (motorsport)
PROFESSIONAL in everything he does, Casos is one of the region's most knowledgeable sporting minds.
The loyal motorsport enthusiast and former Ipswich Events Corporation chairman has seen Willowbank Raceway developed from virtual dust more than three decades ago to one of Australia's most important venues.
The former Willowbank Raceway vice-president and commentator balanced those roles over the years with his many other official duties in the city.
One of his most essential positions was as executive chairman of the Ipswich Events Corporation from 1994-2018.
He's been heavily involved in the Ipswich Arts Trust, West Moreton Hospital and Health Services Board (2012-16) and as a director with the Ipswich Hospital Foundation (1997-2016).
The community-minded Casos is a Past President Rotary Club of Ipswich City, with strong affiliations with Ipswich Grammar School and the Ipswich Show Society.
But talking about motorsport remains something that always brings a smile to his face. He is happy to share his knowledge and promote any activities around the city.
His current roles include as a member of Model T Owners Queensland and the Veteran Car Club of Australia (Qld).
Casos stood down from the Willowbank Raceway track's management board after 20 years of dedicated service.
"Rotary's motto is 'Service Above Self'. I uphold those principals and am proud to play a role doing so in the local community," Casos said at the time.
"It has been an enjoyable and satisfying 20 years on the Willowbank board but at 65 years of age I need to reassess some of my responsibilities.''
Casos first developed a keen interest in drag racing more than 50 years ago when in 1966 he attended DragFest at Surfers Paradise International Raceway with his father and brother.
"We were very excited to witness DragFest and the sport's stars of the time, but I never thought I would be as active in the sport as I have been so many years later," he said.
Casos volunteered at Willowbank for its second event after opening in September 1985, working as a commentator - a role he continued to fill for many years, before joining the track's management in 1997. He was elevated to vice-president five years later.
He lists Willowbank's evolution into a world-class facility and the growth of the Winternationals into one of the world's most significant annual drag racing events among the many highlights of his time on the board.
Willowbank Raceway President Tony Wedlock praised Casos and his significant contribution to the venue's success.
"Paul's dedication to Willowbank Raceway has been nothing short of outstanding,'' Wedlock said. "He has unselfishly devoted countless hours to the track and worked tirelessly over many years all to benefit our sport and the Ipswich community.
"His commitment has not only been outstanding, but also inspiring for others following in his footsteps.''
Casos has continued to work as a volunteer at Willowbank Raceway. He remains involved in the sport as a director of Australian Professional Drag Racing (APDR).
Tomorrow: The final 10 officials who have displayed sporting excellence.