Two of Ipswich’s best had a knack of getting job done
THE best song of 1979 was My Sharona but Ipswich's Ray Kelly and Larry Brigginshaw were getting the "Knack" of playing against the big Sydney boys and showing them up.
Playing for Queensland Country, Kelly and Brigginshaw were outstanding.
Queensland Country beat Newtown in an AMCO Cup game at Lang Park 16-14. The Country boys put in a hell of a last quarter after being down 12-6 at halftime.
In the final quarter, Country tackled themselves delirious with Newtown receiving 5-1 penalties but unable to add any tries.
The man of the match and the new owner of a $1400 video cassette recorder was Ray Kelly while directing play and scoring a 40-metre try was Larry Brigginshaw.
"I still have the recorder and all the games on VHS,'' Kelly said.
It was the efforts for Country that propelled Brigginshaw and Kelly into the attention of Sydney clubs and Newtown.
Kelly reflected on those Country games.
"I was playing out at Gatton A Grade and I was going to go to Sydney in 1980 with Larry to Newtown,'' Kelly said.
"We were both going down and then I got a visit from Ross Livermore and Ron McAullife saying Larry wasn't going anymore and I should stay too.
"I was only 18 so I have gone fair enough and didn't go to Newtown but Larry ended up going for one year."
Country would go on and beat Parramatta 18-9 and North Sydney 12-5. Country lost 8-5 to Brisbane in the semi-finals.
Brigginshaw was man of the match against the Eels and came to the consideration of Easts Tigers.
"Yeah they didn't say too much but I think the AMCO Cup was a good way to get yourself noticed,'' Brigginshaw said.
"I went to Newtown for a season then came back to Easts in 1981."
Both Kelly and Brigginshaw would drive that familiar path up Brisbane Road between Ipswich and the Tigers from 1981.
Easts would achieve the ultimate in 1983 and win the premiership beating Dolphins 14-6 and it would be the two Ipswich players bringing glory to Langlands Park.
The Tigers would tap into Ipswich again just like in 1977 and 1978 with Des Morris and rely on an Ipswich leader with Brigginshaw captaining the Tigers.
Easts finished second on the table with 20 points with Redcliffe claiming the minor premiership by one point. Easts would beat Dolphins in the major semi 11-5 and then get the Dolphins again on the big day.
Brigginshaw and Kelly would go close to the treble, winning the premiership and Woolies Trophy over Souths but losing the State League final to Valleys.
"It was a dream to play half behind that pack of forwards to be honest. It wasn't hard,'' Brigginshaw said.
"I just had to organise them and get it to the backs.''
Brigginshaw was sure about the role his Ipswich mate Ray Kelly had played in the successful year of the Tiger.
"Kelly was a dynamic player, fast and great step,'' Brigginshaw said.
"He was smart too, could read a game and know the situation and then react.''
While Kelly was sure, Brigginshaw was a tremendous asset for the Tigers.
"Briggo and I have played together so much, we had a good understanding of each other, he had a great kicking game and organising half,'' Kelly said.
Pulling the chain on these, 'Ipswich Tigers' was the chief tiger himself and premiership winner in 1972, 1977 and 1978 John Lang.
"Both great competitors and both played in our 1983 premiership side," Lang said.
"Larry was our captain and halfback and was a great leader who led by example.
"Ray was a great team man who had been playing 5/8 until we signed Wayne Lindenberg after the pre-season and then switched to centre where he did a great job."
Kelly would return home to Ipswich and the Jets in 1986.
"I had a meeting with Tommy and he made an offer for me to come home,'' Kelly said.
"I wanted to play at six and Tigers weren't able to commit to giving me a go but Tommy said he will give me a crack.
"They were very enjoyable years back at the Jets."
Two Ipswich boys taking on the rest and winning - then coming home.
Positive 'Crash' tackles Ipswich footy
IF you were going to launch an investigation to find out when I fell in love with league, you would put up the police tape around my lounge room floor at Brassall.
I can remember sitting on the floor cutting out Rugby League Week or newspaper articles I wanted to keep.
My uncle Rob would send me his RLW when he was finished with them so I would get four or five in a mail.
Safe to say no homework was being done that night. The writers in game reports taught me about football. They painted pictures I wanted to go see for myself.
Tony Durkin, Barry Dick, Jack Craig, Steve Ricketts and Robert Craddock all got the scissor treatment as I would cut out the game reports and any stories about Wally or pictures of Miles and stick them in a scrapbook with Jets game reports.
My mum recently gave me back my piles of scrapbooks. My wife was not completely happy about this development.
One of those men holding the pen while I held the scissors was Robert "Crash" Craddock.
Craddock remembered fondly his trips to Ipswich, as he started his career in pursuit of football stories.
"I was with the Toowoomba Chronicle and loved reporting on the State League games," Craddock said. "They were big games, well attended and you looked forward to it.
"Alf kicking for Gordon Langton, Gordon Reid, Gary Coyne and Tommy."
Craddock would move to the Daily Sun and then Courier-Mail where he is the chief sports writer now and on Fox Sports.
He can still call on some Ipswich contacts when a story needs it and know the call would not go through to message bank.
"I remember when Allan Langer was about to play Kevin Langer for the first time. I got them to drive from Ipswich to my grandma's house at Toowong so we could get a photo," Craddock said.
"We put the Cornflakes out and pretended it was their house for the photo.
"There is two things I know about Ipswich, great footballers and great people, positive people.''
Ipswich can maintain its positivity even in the days of film in a camera.
"We organised all five Walters boys for a shoot, got them all, got the photos - beautiful got back to the paper and the photo hadn't worked," Craddock remembered with laughter.
"I marvel at the people that the Walters boys are. They're so positive, you would never hear them bag anyone.
"Of all the contacts in my phone the easiest quote to get is someone from Ipswich; they're always helpful and humble. That is what you will get.
"I asked Steve Walters once why are you so positive and he told me his mum Sandy always said find the positive in someone so all the boys do it.''
When it came to having to drive to Ipswich, Crash Craddock did it with a smile.
"They were great nights, especially if you were covering Jets v Wynnum,'' he said.
"They were always viewed as the glamour side and Ipswich would put on a rough night for the Seagulls.
"Glamour brings out the best in Ipswich."
Reporting on Ipswich games was not without its challenges for a young journalist.
"If the Jets were playing Norths well the mind games would be out for the week Tommy and Greg Oliphant would be playing games and not naming their team,'' he recalled.
"Trying to get one over each other.
"Tommy developed such a great culture at the Jets, they just loved him and the photo of Tommy carrying Alf like he's a new born baby is one of the most iconic photos."
The journalistic integrity of Ipswich is something that Craddock has come to admire.
"I always say the QT produces these great journalists and if I could take 10 journalists to work with me they would all nearly be from the QT.
"Chris Garry, Brent Read and Marco Monteverde are great examples of Ipswich sports writing,'' he said.
LARRY Brigginshaw or Ray Kelly scored in every game for Queensland Country in 1979.
Queensland Country 16 (R.Stallman, L Brigginshaw tries I Dauth 5 goals) defeated Newtown 14 (K.Wilson 2 tries four goals).
Queensland Country 12 (R.Kelly, R Hancock, tries L Cullen 3 goals) defeated North Sydney 5 (D McKinnon try R Henniker goal).
Queensland Country 18 (L Brigginshaw, R.Kelly, R.Hancock tries I Dauth 3 goals) defeated Parramatta 9 (R Jay try M Cronin 3 goals).
Country would lose 8-5 to Brisbane in their final, with Brisbane going on and play Cronulla in the final and going down 22-5.