Part five - 1983
By now we were a very confident football team but never got ahead of ourselves. Having won two premierships in a row, we knew what was required to be successful. Lots of hard work. We had the talent but were determined to be better. We lifted our training intensity even higher. As in previous years, we wouldn't miss training for anything. For some of us, training was just as big a deal as the games themselves. We wouldn't stop ballwork unless we were satisfied we had been as good as possible. We had a lot of set moves that we would practice every night until we were satisfied we had got them right. As mentioned in 1982, we won every trophy on offer and once more made our way into the Grand Final. Once more, Hansens would be our opponents. Now I can tell some people may be starting to feel sorry for Hansens. Don't. In 1983, despite losing to us in the two previous Grand Finals, they still thought themselves to be a superior team to us. Having recruited and kept quite a few star "A" Graders in the previous two seasons, 1983 would see them sign their biggest name to date. A wily hooker from Eastern Suburbs Tigers named Jeff Ashe who happened to be understudy to Australian hooker John Lang. Once Lang moved to Sydney, Ashe would become Easts number one hooker. Coach Johnny Smith somehow lured him to play for Hansens for one season in the middle of his "A" Grade career. After 1983, Jeff would play hooker for the emerging Ipswich Jets. He was a very good organiser, quick as the wind and a fast striker in the scrums. He didn't mind a scrap either.
Having played the previous finals at Newman Oval, the Metropolitan League decided to host this years finals at their headquarters at Gibson Park, Stafford. As mentioned earlier, Gibson is a four field complex. Field 1 rarely played on as this had the number one cricket pitch on the field. Field 2 was a good ground but field 3 was easily the best with the best surface of the four fields. Field 4 was dry and hard almost completely devoid of grass all season long, was next to Stafford Tannery which stunk all year round but had the best view from the licensed area. You guessed it. The Grand Final would be played on number 4. If you get to watch this game, and we have the disc at the clubhouse, you will be amazed at the billowing dust cloud after every tackle. It was a stinking hot day and like the two previous Grand Finals, the play would go from one end to the other. We opened the scoring with a fine try to backrower Brian Younger after some good lead up work and quick hands. The try wasn't converted and Hansens soon after reduced the deficit to a point with a penalty which were plentiful on this particular afternoon. Midway through the first half, Ashe sliced through our defence for a superb individual try which was converted to give Hansens a 7-3 lead. Soon after would be the first of quite a few punch ups. Our winger Larry Corbo and their centre Andre Lovitt would be the first but not the last to be sent to the sin bin that afternoon. Shortly before halftime, centre Eric Dolzan would score another good team try. Dobbsy would convert to give us an 8-7 lead at halftime. To say we had dry throats would be an understatement. No water was allowed on the field in those days so you had to wait until halftime for a drink. Playing in 30 something degree heat and swallowing dust all afternoon does tend to give you a thirst.
The second half was to be a spiteful and tough half of football. Brian Younger would suffer a serious knee injury early rucking the ball up but still had the courage to get to his feet and play the ball before collapsing to the ground in agony and taking no further part in the game. He was replaced by brother Peter who happened to be our playing coach but wore the reserves jumper to start with the team he wanted. Soon after we would lose Harry Donnelly to the sin bin taking Jeff Ashe with him after the two of them would instigate an all in after antagonising each other all afternoon. While these two were still in the bin, Peter Younger would join them after foolishly taking on Hansen's hardman Stumpy, an uncompromising copper who would blacken Petes eye for our team photo the following week. At this stage we had 11 playing 12. While we were still down two men, Hansens fullback scored a very good try to give them a 10-8 lead. Dobbsy levelled the scores with a penalty soon after. On our next attacking raid, Gary Cooper would calmly slot a field goal from 30 metres out to give us a one point lead with ten minutes remaining. The game was still in the balance when halfback Chris Farley made one of his typical 50-60 metre breaks downfield but lost the ball in a try saving tackle by Hansens fullback Spence. Hansens had the scrum feed but we won it against the head which saw Denis Turner and Gary Cooper combine to take us closer to the line. Harry Donnelly ran from dummy half to twice throw a dummy before offloading a great short ball to Mick Spooner who dived over in the corner and Mick's ensuing cartwheel was something to behold. Dobbsy slotted the conversion from the sideline to give us a winning lead of 16-10 which would be the final score. We had 21 players in jersies that afternoon and only 15 got a run in the game. As had been our custom since the 81 final, after the game, our team bus would deliver us to our training sheds at Gilbert Park where we would get cleaned up and walk up the hill to our clubhouse at Arthur Terrace with our trophy. The thrill of walking into our club as a squad on Grand Final day every year with our supporters all waiting for us is something we will never forget. And you guessed it. Normanby were the big news on channel nine that night.
As a footnote, I would like mention Don Seccombe, Channel Nine's and Brisbane's most respected newsreader of all time. Don loved to come to our 10 to 10 drinks at the Normanby Hotel at season's end. Ren Winders would then drive Don to Mt Coot-tha to read the 6 o'clock news, which he did like the consummate professional he was even with a good load on board, except for one year,....... but that's another story. RIP Secco!
By Brian Donnelly