ROW 6: L Symon, D Gerhardt, J Paton, S Ferguson, T Bennett, G Parker, G Taylor, A Bowman, G McCallum, T Andrews
ROW 5: J Topp, J Wilson, P Murray, S MacDonald, B McKinless, R Greentree, M Smith, M Flanagan, P McPhee, D Saunders (Comm.), D Stuart, S Drummer. J Whitford-Lowe, P Hibberd
ROW 4: David Manson (LM), E Ward (LM), H Dearness (LM), G Albert, J McLeod
ROW 3: L Sainsbury (LM), B Tallon (LM), J Dunne, P Newham, J Hayes, M Bolton, B Adams, M Wise, C McEwan, W Van Dalen, L Beer, J Clarke, D Stubbins (Comm.), J Burns, M McFarlane (Comm.), I Blank (Tres.)
ROW 2: Doug Manson (LM), S Harvey, D Byrnes, D Langenbaker (LM), R Irwin, D Kellett, D Sinclair-Paton, S Berndt, M Frizzel, E Sosene, C Whitford-Lowe, R Grogan, G Long (LM), G Mines (LM)
FRONT: B Pease (LM), D Hutton (Sec.), T Adams, S McLeod, A Gadd, B Briggs, I Irwin (LM, Pres.), M Heit, G Gillespie, A Sideris, J Cosgrove, T Long, B Wood, A Newham, K Rodgers (LM, Patron)
The era after the Brisbane Rugby League competition was one of the BRLRA finding its path in a new administration environment. First-tier games were now managed by the QRL and some of responsibilities of managing referees were delegated to the Australian Rugby League and after 1997 the National Rugby League.
Hence, the BRLRA re-focused its activities to providing new referees to the pathway of elite rugby league.
The Brisbane Junior Rugby League (BJRL) managed the local junior competitions since 1954. Member clubs had recognised that a change was now required to grow the game into the futuer and the BJRL was wound up at a meeting at Cannon Hill on Friday, 27 February 2004. A new body known as the Greater Brisbane Junior Rugby League (GBJRL) encompassed the demographics of the juniors in South East Queensland was established in March 2004 with participation from 44 clubs1. The reorganization also saw the Brisbane Junior Division Rugby League Referees Association merged with the current association in 2006, forming the largest rugby league referees’ organisation in the world. In 2014, there were 434 registered members in the BRLRA.
In 2000, the Number One and Number Two Appointment committees due to declining membership were replaced by two referee allocators who appointed referees to the Brisbane Second Division Rugby League and Brisbane Junior Division Rugby League fixtures respectively. This system remained in place until 2013 when the Greater Brisbane Junior Rugby League was reformed into a board structure and appointed three referee allocators albeit members of the association to the task. In 2014 Brisbane Second Division Rugby League also appointed a single referee allocator. In 2015, the newly formed Rugby League Brisbane appointed three referee allocators and oversaw all non Queensland Rugby League referee appointments within the metropolitan area.
In 2002, the management committee was reorganized into portfolios, where the chair (a management committee member) led a subcommittee devoted to an area of responsibility, this continued with a number of changes to the composition of portifolios until 2007. 2008 saw the introduction of the Coaching and Development Manager as a non-offical position on the management committee to oversee all referee coaching matters.
1986-99 and 2002-05
|A couple of footy seasons ago, rugby league referee Geoff Mines penalised a halfback in a Brisbane second division match. “How long has that been in the rules?” yelped the No.7. “For the last hundred years,” replied the ref. A grizzly old prop poked his head out of the scrum and offered the last word: “You’d know, you’ve been blowing a bloody whistle for every one of ’em.” Well, not quite 100 years. But Geoff Mines has been running around rugby league grounds, from the most obscure suburban junior fields to Suncorp Stadium, for the past 38 years. He’s controlled grand finals at every level from under-11 to reserve grade, and during the 1980s was a regular A grade referee during a boom period when the Brisbane club competition boasted topliners such as Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga, Gene Miles, Bob Lindner, Gary Belcher and others who wore maroon and green and gold jerseys.
The 57-year-old solicitor, who runs his own practice in the northern suburbs, is positively upbeat about the role refereeing has played in his life.”When I started refereeing in 1974, I found I enjoyed it more than I thought I would,” he said. “I used to play rugby league, but when I started studying law, I thought playing and training would take too much of my time. “I wanted to remain involved with the game and thought refereeing would be less time-consuming than playing. Little did I know.” As well as being an active referee for 38 seasons, Mines served as president of the Brisbane RL Referees Association for 18 years and was made a life member in 1995. He was also on the board of directors of the South-East Division of the QRL for more than 15 years.
Mines made his A grade debut in 1984 and his baptism of fire came with a Sunday TV Match of the Day at Lang Park between Souths and Wynnum-Manly. “Wally Lewis had captained Australia in a Test against Great Britain at the SCG the day before,” he recalled. “Ironically, Wally wasn’t skipper of Wynnum-Manly – hooker David Green was captain. “But that didn’t stop Wally giving me a good old workout. He didn’t know me from a bar of soap but from the very first scrum he was advising me how to referee. “I was like a fish out of water and a bit awestruck about refereeing the best player I’d ever seen in my life. “He really did take the mickey, but I managed to get through the game OK.”
The next day, Mines indulged one of his keen interests by heading to Eagle Farm for the Brisbane Cup and who should he run into – Wally Lewis and the entire Seagulls team. “To his credit, Wally apologised for giving me a hard time. After that, we always got on well on the field,” Mines said.
On Tuesday afternoon of the 11th January 2011, a flood warning was issued for the Metropolitan area due to the continuing heavy rainfall. By late Wednesday night it was reported that the Brisbane River had broken its banks over the Brisbane Corso in Fairfield. The river peaked around Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday morning water had receded enough to gain access to JF O’Grady Park. There was no water mark on the building as the flood exceeded the ceiling height of the main building.
A significant reform occurred during 2011-2012, where the association in order to strengthen the referee intake into the international game at Under 13’s proposed that the junior referee coaching staff oversee and appoint referees to the various Under 12 competitions. Previously the association only appointed referees to these grades for Chairman’s Trophy and final series games. The proposal later approved by the GBJRL allowed a more systematic approach to appointments to the junior game finals, allowing many referees to obtain their first final after 1 or 2 seasons and significantly improve the pathway and retention of referees.
2013 was a difficult year for the association, where the year saw three presidents and two acting presidents. However, the tragic murder of Tony McGrath on the night of 21st May 2013 at his Woollongabba home was emotionally draining for his life long friends and members of the association. The subsequent police investigation interviewed many of the members and their spouses, as Tony’s last night was spent at JF O’Grady Park in his role of President. The media coverage, funeral, and subsequent court hearings dominated the association’s social talk for some time after this tragic event.
During the year a joint policy between the GBJRL and the Brisbane Rugby League Referees Association was launched ‘Be Positive or Be Quiet’ to continue the good sportsmanship and personal responsibility push. This policy has seen a marked improvement in players and spectator behavior in the game.
It was a spring morning in Brisbane when Tony McGrath’s limp and bleeding body was dragged out of his burning house. Tony later lost three toes and was being rehabilitated to regain his walking ability. At the time, the cause of fire was uncertain and the cause of Tony’s injuries attributed to possible electrical burns. He was alive, though unconscious, and would later be baffled to learn traces of Valium had been found in his system. Seven months later, in May 2013, something else unexpected was found in the body of the retired accountant. A bullet.
In 2015, the association launched a Facebook page that for the first encouraged all members and supporters from the general public to contribute to the art of officiating. As at December 2015, the Facebook page had an average readership of 500 views with 600 direct links (likes).
The clubhouse dedication plaque in remembrance of
Anthony McGrath LM
- Anon, 2014. History – Brisbane Junior Rugby League, Website, accessed January 2015.
- Bernie Pramberg, 2011. Love of the Game: Geoff calls the tune, Courier Mail 12 March 2011.
- Australian Associated Press, 2016. Violent ‘fool’ for love faces life in jail, Brisbane Times 27 May 2016.