The UQ footy club mixed the old with the new on Saturday when they celebrated their 60th anniversary as a club.
The Red Lions played Wilston Grange at home and fittingly claimed their second win for the season in front of proud former players and coaches.
UQ President Peter Herring said it was the perfect occasion to reminisce on landmark moments over the six decades.
“The club was formed in 1956 by a group of guys who travelled to Queensland to study at UQ because their local universities didn’t offer the courses that they wanted to study,” Herring said.
“We’re talking about a lot of Tasmanians, South Australians, Western Australians and a few Victorians who found themselves in a rugby union and rugby league heartland and a long way from home.
“The only thing they had in common with the people around them was footy, so they decided to form a footy club.”
This story of the club’s humble beginnings is one that sits head and shoulders above the rest for Herring, and says a lot about their early players.
“The club was essentially their home away from home and it was the place they felt a real kinship with the guys around them,” he said.
While the night was largely spent reminiscing, it was also significant for the present Red Lions.
“It’s really important for the current group of players to watch these 75 and 85 year olds go about their business as club members and in some cases life members and see how much pride they have at the place and how much it means to them,” Herring admitted.
“Those experiences are what creates a culture at the club.
“Having the young guys shaking hands with these guys and hearing their stories is as important for the future culture of the club as it was then.”
Brian Cox and Brian Murray were two of three players who founded the club 60 years ago and were able to see the result of their hard work firsthand.
“The enduring message from these guys is that it’s exactly what they wanted it to be all those years ago when they started out and it’s great to see its still traveling the way it is and the friendships are happening and the life experiences are still there,” Herring reflected.
“They all came away feeling incredibly proud of what they’ve done and really pleased it’s turned into something they never dreamt it would be.
Among many stories shared on the night, the tale of the 1966 premiership was one to behold.
“The final against Sandgate again was described in the Courier Mail as a bloodbath,” said Herring.
“Al Carlson has the stats from that game and he said it’s nothing like what we see today; there were something like 13 reports, three broken jaws and one bloke off to hospital.”
It was the 50th reunion for these players and their coach Brian Grienke showed his undying passion, supporting the present Red Lions at age 85.
Herring is grateful for the amount of support the club has received over the years but says there is still more to be done.
“For us it’s all about sustainability now.
“We’ve done something we didn’t think we could do which was get to the QAFL and QWAFL level.
“We’ve still got a way to go, we know that, but the general feeling around the club is very positive.”
Looking ahead, Herring knows the road won’t be easy but is confident the club can achieve its goals.
“The three things we’ve always missed are a home, playing at an elite level and providing some real financial stability.
“We see ourselves really establishing ourselves at QAFL level and ticking off that third box.
“We’re well down the path in the last five to seven years of achieving the goals we set ourselves and are on track for the future.
By Josh Cheadle