Mount Isa Mongrels

MongrelsWith the inception of the State carnival in 1987, Mount Isa set about forming a side to contest the inaugural carnival.

Due to uncertainty in numbers and the difficulty in obtaining leave, the decision was made to join forces with Townsville. The boys flew down to the Gold Coast and although Mount Isa sent a very strong contingent of footballers, the sheer weight of numbers in the combined side, saw few Mount Isa players selected in the preliminary games.  As the carnival was run on a strictly knockout basis, many Mount Isa players did not get to lace up a boot at this carnival.  Image

Not to be deterred, but in fact, spurred on by these events, the North West Queensland Police Rugby League “Bushpigs” were formed, to contest the 1988 carnival in Townsville.

With a concerted fundraising effort to fund the trip and playing in Cronulla Sutherland colours, 20 players and officials travelled to Townsville by private vehicles.

The trip for some of the boys working in the Gulf at the time is the stuff of folklore and goes to show that some people will do anything to get a game of footy.  Bill Edbrooke, Peter Hornsby, Jason Gough and Andy Campbell were forced to abandon their car due to floods and cross a swollen, croc infested creek on foot. With bags over their heads and water to their chests, they completed the crossing in record time, travelling the remainder of the journey from Croydon to Townsville in the back of a ute.

1987 Mt Isa Bush Pigs

1987 Mt Isa Bush Pigs

The effort paid off, when under the guiding hand of coach Ian Parsons and captain Spotty Banaghan, the team performed very well, with victories over CQ and Townsville, battling it’s way into the semi-finals of the knockout competition format, through a superior for and against record. They were finally knocked out by eventual runners-up, Cairns.

From these early days and with the tyranny of distance faced by Police working in North West Queensland, an extremely strong bond emerged amongst Mt Isa’s rugby league playing Police officers.  It was this special bond that saw Mt Isa emerge as one of the best sides in the 90’s, a success that stretched through the entire decade, with State final appearances in 1989, 1990, 1994 & 1997 and a brilliant State Title in 1995.  Not bad for a District based team with only 120 Police to choose from.

Unfortunately for one of the strongest and proudest clubs in our Association, the ongoing cost and time associated with attending the State Championships, saw the boys from the bush succombe to an inevitable re-merger with the Townsville Wasps.

This merger was complete in 2006, forming the very strong Northern Stingers that represents the entire Northern Police Region.

Mt Isa’s proud history lives on in the memory of knowing that they produced State Representatives like Matt Smith (1998 & 1999), Mark Wright (1998), Guy Harvey (1998), Bob Knight (1999), Ben Wiltshire (2000), Dan Nikas (2001 & 2002), Cian Jacobs (2003 & 2005), Adrian Massingham (2003), Simon Tayler (2004 & 2005) and Wayne Blacklock (2005).  The Mongrels can also boast Australian Police Rep players Matt Smith and Mark Wright (1998 UK Tour), Cian Jacobs (2004 v NZ) and Simon Tayler (2005 v NZ Anzac Test).