Vale Brian Greinke

By Murray Bird

Queensland football and the Morningside Panthers lost one of its true greats early this month.

Born in 1933, a 24-year-old Brian Greinke arrived in Brisbane in 1957 after a junior career with Bentleigh Districts in Melbourne, and a senior career with VFA club Division 1 club Brighton. After one season with the battling Morningside Panthers he was elevated to the position of captain-coach for the 1958 and 1959 seasons.

In 1958 he was selected as Queensland’s number one ruckman for national centenary championships, held in Melbourne. Grienke’s 1958 season was possibly his best with the Telegraph reporting: “Morningside have not won a match this season – they drew with Sandgate – but this cannot be a reflection on Greinke”.

In 1957, 1958 and 1959 he was the star ruckman of the QANFL, twice finishing runner-up in the Grogan medal and finishing third on the other occasion.

In 1958 he won both The Courier-Mail ‘Player of the Year’ and the Neptune Oil Best and Fairest player in the QANFL. The later award was worth a handsome £100. In 1959 he won The Courier-Mail once again.

The always-positive Greinke was a full-time “schools coach” for the Panthers at a time when the code was beginning to blossom in Brisbane. He coached the Queensland schoolboys in 1959.

Coorparoo (QANFL premiers in 1960, 1963 and 1964) were a big spending club and they tried to lure Greinke from the Panthers with a huge offer, but he remained loyal to the red, white and black.

He briefly returned to his native Victoria for a few seasons, coaching Robinvale (Sunraysia) and Warburton (Yarra Valley). Upon his return to Queensland in 1964, he recommenced his rucking duties with Morningside, teaming up with his ruck companion Ray ‘Whizzer’ Whitzell to take the Siders to their first finals campaign.

Unfortunately, he missed the ground breaking 1965 premiership with the Panthers, but he was acknowledged as laying the foundations for the perennial easy beats of the QANFL to be finally crowned champions.

In 1964 the Telegraph reported:

Brian Greinke, Morningside’s evergreen ruckman, has been appointed full-time secretary of the Australian rules junior league. It is a well-deserved appointment as he has been associated closely with junior football for some years. He will be the first full-time official to be appointed to the junior league. 

Greinke was at the helm of the greatest period of growth in the 150 plus year history of the code in Queensland. Australian football grew quickly at the junior level in the late 1960s; in fact, it grew at a faster rate than the population growth. The increase in the number of junior clubs, teams and participants in Brisbane was astounding. In 1954, there were eleven clubs, 43 teams and 1000 junior participants in Brisbane. In 1964, there were fourteen clubs, 96 teams and 3000 participants. By 1971, there were 27 clubs, 217 teams and more than 5000 participants.

In 1966 he proved his coaching prowess was again as the captain-coach of University’s premiership team in the QANFL reserve-grade. He then went to Papua New Guinea for several years where he was integral to the code stealing a march on rugby league for several years.

As well as his time as a football administrator the multi-talented quietly spoken Greinke was an orchardist, insurance salesman and bookmaker at country racetracks on the Darling Downs.

Later in life he could be regularly seen at Morningside matches with other Panther legends like Ian Polglase, Arch Blythe, Brian Jeffrey and Warren Ledger.

Brian Greinke was a highly effective coach, junior administrator, state representative and above all a champion gentleman who loved the Morningside Panthers and Australian rules football.

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