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Moree’s U-18s and U-16s league sides shone brightly during a stellar 1973 season

MOREE’s rich rugby league history, stretching back 100 years, is punctuated with myriad stellar seasons and unforgettable highpoints.

The 1970s was an incredible decade for The Big M – a defining 10-year timeframe that produced 16 grand-final wins across four grades.

Stars were born, and the more durable just kept shining, during an historic 10 years of local rugby league.

Moree A-grade swept to a premiership win in 1972 ahead of a hat-trick of grand-finals in 1977, 1978 and 1979.

Reserve grade absolutely dominated, winning in 1970 and 1972. Incredibly, they then rattled off consecutive premierships from 1975 through to 1979.

The under-19s were top-of-the-table in 1972 while the under-18s, oozing a player roster of future champions, won premierships in 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1979 – with 1973 a stand-out season.

It was the year that Moree High School’s open-weight rugby league squad, captained by Terry Quinn and coached by John McLean, created local league history by becoming the first Moree team to win the coveted University Shield grand-final.

And while this group of team-mates that became lifelong friends put Moree on the national sporting stage, the same year two junior teams swept to all-important premiership victories.

Moree under-18s added to the rugby league frenzy that year when they demolished Inverell in the Group 5 grand-final while Moree High School’s under-16s outfit cruised through the season undefeated, a run that culminated in a grand-final victory against Fairfield Patrician Brothers at the NSW knock-out competition at Centennial Park.

The under-18s squad, coached by John Manning and managed by local league guru Alf Scott, won 17 of their 18 Group 5 matches during the season.

Moree’s under-18s premiership winners, who won 17 of their 18 matches during a stellar 1973 season.

Their only defeat – 14-10 in the first round – came at the hands of Inverell, but Moree exacted revenge by smashing Inverell 31-2 in the second round and again when it really mattered, 24-4 at Warialda on grand-final day.

On paper, the Moree team was the closest thing to a grand-final certainty that had ever marched on to a sporting field.

Heading in to the grand-final they had amassed 145 tries and 96 goals in 17 games.

Inverell, as good as they were, had scored just 20 tries and 19 goals.

In total, Moree under-18s amassed 648 points for the Group 5 season – a record for a junior team – with just 102 points scored against them.

Mark Jamieson scored 95 of those points when he grounded the ball 29 times and kicked four goals.

As well as commitments with the under-18s side, Jamieson played in four Group 5 reserve-grade games during the season, scoring eight tries and kicking six goals.

Paul Peachey booted 50 goals and scored 15 tries – 145 points – while Michael Clarke chipped in with 39 goals and 11 tries.

“The under-18s team was a very good side, and the points scored for the season was, at the time, a record for a junior team,” Peachey said.

The team also won the Brazier Shield – a competition made up of the best under-18s teams from Groups 4,5 and 21 – at Narrabri on their way to Group 5 glory.

The squad was so strong, Allan Fitzsimmons was sent from the field in the Brazier Shield grand-final against Narrabri because the referee feared his brutal tackling style could cause serious injury to opposing players.

“Allan was a brilliant player, the Ron Coote of junior league, and he tackled hard,” Peachey said.

“Basically, he was sent off for being too dominant.”

Fitzsimmons was ordered from the field when an injured Narrabri player was carried off and two others couldn’t play the ball after bearing the brunt of his hard tackling.

“There was nothing illegal about Allan’s tackling, but the ref said he had no choice; he reckoned he had to send him off before he killed someone,” Peachey said.

The team still managed to win the Brazier Shield grand-final, 27-10.

“It really didn’t matter that we were a man down because we had the game sewn up anyway, and won easily,” Peachey said.

Nine under-18s team members all played Group 5 representative football while Michael Clark, Peter Peachey and Allan Fitzsimmons represented Northern Division.

Moree High’s under-16s team went through the 1973 season undefeated, before a crushing State knock-out grand-final win against Fairfield Patrician Brothers.

Along the way they defeated Canterbury, Holy Cross Ryde and St Mary’s Pagewood.

Coached by Ian Carlin, the team also won carnivals at Walgett, Moree, Inverell and Tamworth.

“They were a great group of boys and really trained well,” Carlin said in a 2003 interview to mark that season’s 30th anniversary.

“They gave their maximum effort and were willing to listen and learn which boys of that age don’t often do.

“Mind you, they weren’t saints – likeable rogues I suppose you could call them,” he laughed.

“But they treated me with respect, and they had a lot of pride in themselves.”

These games and many others will be replayed and relived when Moree Boars Rugby League Football Club celebrates 100 years of league in Moree at the Memorial Hall on Saturday, July 21.

Local league’s night-of-nights, proudly sponsored by Aaron, Tamara and Lucy Ross, will feature guest speakers, former league stars Tony Butterfield and David “Cement” Gillespie during an evening that will bring together hundreds of past and present, players, administrators and  supporters of Moree rugby league.

The centenary ball will also feature an auction of rugby league jerseys that will help raise funds to build a Moree Boars club house at Boughton Oval as well as help finance the club’s ongoing costs.

Included in the auction are a signed Canterbury Bulldogs jersey and a jersey worn by Bulldog Kerrod Holland in the NRL Indigenous Round played in May, where every player and match official wore Indigenous-inspired jerseys.

Words: Bill Poulos

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