Best ever Proserpine utility players
WHITSUNDAY rugby league historian Tony Price is writing a book about the history of rugby league in the Whitsunday region leading up to a player reunion this year. The Whitsunday Times is publishing regular articles by Mr Price in the leadup to the event. This week he lists some of the best ever Whitsunday utility backs.
There were many players in the old Whitsunday competition that seemed to play forever and statistics are hard to ignore when comparing a player from one era to the next.
There is nobody that can compete with Ernie Hockings from Bowen when it comes to durability as he played club football from the mid-1930s well into the 1950s.
Proserpine’s Jack Arnold was another that played for an extended period from around the late 1930s once again into the 1950s.
When we compare players that have competed at a high level it is hard to go past Collinsville’s Lindsay Phillips who played first grade for Collinsville from 1971 until 1989 appearing in nine North Queensland finals in the Miner’s colours.
Lindsay Phillips was a fixture in Whitsunday teams for most of his career and also played Foley Shield for Townsville and Mackay in a career that spanned twenty seasons. Proserpine’s Russell Caldwell played senior football from 1963 until at least 1979 and was involved in six Townsville finals including his Heatley Blazer winning performance in 1975 while Billy Lade and John McDonald from Proserpine played in eight North Queensland finals in careers that lasted around twelve seasons.
In today’s rugby league most backs look like forwards as speed and strength are the keys to success and winning the ball from set scrums is no longer required.
In the period of Whitsundays involvement in the Foley Shield from 1969-94 it was good if you had a utility player that could play in any position as there was no interchange in those days.
Proserpine’s Luchie Gardel played for Whitsunday as a fullback, winger, centre, lock, 2nd row and front row in a career that went from 1971-88 so I’d suggest that he was as good as any in the art of adaptability.
Another great utility player from days gone by was Phil Nolan who played senior football in most positions with competence and aggression.
He was selected in the Proserpine Team of the Century as a front row forward but was just as good playing in the centres.
Who was the fastest player that ever wore a Proserpine jersey – was it John McDonald, Barry Parnell, Kevin Bauer, Dennis Norman or Les Hanigan?
Les Hanigan had good credentials as he was a professional sprinter in Sydney winning the North Sydney Gift among other races but Kevin Bauer would be hard to beat over any distance.
He ran in the Queensland titles in the early 1960s winning the 440 yards and coming second in the 100 and 220 yards against sprinters that went onto Commonwealth and Olympic Games selection.
John McDonald was a rare talent and his selection in the Proserpine Team of the Century was justified as he was the complete winger with great speed, great defence and a magnificent goal kicker.
There was no faster player in the Whitsunday area in the period from 1975-85.
Barry Parnell and Dennis Norman played in the mid 1960s with Parnell still a major force in Whitsunday rugby league in 1973 until he suffered a bad break that ended his career.
Dennis Norman was a great player that had a lot to do with Proserpine winning the 1965 North Queensland final with a two try performance in a very tight game.
He was a schoolboy sprint star that was as fast as any mentioned above.
BEST BACKS: Winger Les Hanigan came to play in Proserpine in the 1970s and impressed everyone with his blinding speed and ability to play a number of different positions.