Book of the century
RUGBY LEAGUE: Famed names, stories etched into Stanthorpe folklore - compiling a book that retraces 100 years was never going to be an easy task but it's one David Ball has enjoyed each minute of.
The former Stanthorpe junior, Gremlins A-grader and club president has spent the better part of 10 months scrolling through paper clippings, talking to distant relatives and utilising online tools such as Trove, to tell the story of Stanthorpe rugby league's centenary.
It has been an eye-opening experience for the first time author, with the fruits of his labour nearing completion.
"I probably just wanted to help find out more about the early stages of rugby league in Stanthorpe,” Ball said. "Find out the facts - sort fact from fiction.
"You listen to the stories about how there used to be five local teams playing in the district. Found out there was six or seven at one stage.
"They'd just play inter town here and would pick a rep side to play Warwick and Glen Innes and places like that.”
People might be familiar with more recent names such as Michael Hancock, but Stanthorpe produced several lesser known stars.
"There was a fella by the name of Les Sellers. He was a local, played his junior footy here and some seniors for the Wallaroos, they were called then, he went to Ipswich, made his Queensland debut and played eight tests for Australia.
"You've got the likes of Bob Newlands, John Scott, quite a lot when you start looking around.
"Brian Fuller - apparently he was a teacher here and a good footballer. He represented Queensland as well.”
Finding the information has been the hardest.
"Like in the very early '20s they were pretty limited to what they could do. There wasn't photographs around or journos. It was a bit hard to find out too much unless they made representative squads.”
Ball has utilised the Border Post archives, collections at the heritage museum and stories he's been told by the likes of Ray Reeves and Barry Brunckhorst to source much of his research.
"There's a few little laughs in the book too. Stories from personal experiences just to lighten the mood up in the book a bit.”
It's hard to envisage but Stanthorpe rep teams used to run out in Brisbane in curtain raising games for Test matches between Australia and Great Britain.
A New Zealand Maori side took on a Stanthorpe rep side up at the showgrounds.
"It has been really interesting stumbling across this stuff,” Ball said.
"I actually found out that my grandfather, who I never met, he played for the Boomerangs Club here in the late '30s.
"Then they got enlisted in the war and stopped playing. It hasn't been a burden putting it together, let's put it that way.”
Ball even used a 14 hour plane trip to Canada to knock out some of the pages.
"I never thought I'd be writing a book. Another feather in my cap I can tell the grandkids about I guess.”
Quizzed as to what he's found to be the most interesting stories, Ball said some of the grand final recaps made for fascinating reading.
"There's also one there on Blue Furness. I've got fond memories of him as a trainer. He'd been with the club for 40-50 years as a strapper and water carrier.
"There's a story about how some players were travelling to Deepwater one day and the car rolled with players in it. They still played that day but narrowly lost.”
He's not made a decision as to what the book will be called, but has some ideas.
"I was thinking something like 'From Red Apples to Green Gremlins'. Something quirky like that. In the beginning their logo was just a red apple and they used to be called the Apple Eaters.”
The book will be released at the Stanthorpe Rugby League 100 year anniversary dinner on August 3.