Queanbeyan's Kangaroos turn 50

Former club president Denis Reid recalled the 1983 premiership that broke a 12 year drought for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Photo: Gemma Varcoe.
Former club president Denis Reid recalled the 1983 premiership that broke a 12 year drought for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Photo: Gemma Varcoe.

One of the city's most successful sporting clubs will celebrate it's 50th birthday later this year, and the Queanbeyan Kangaroos history reflects a half century of ups and downs.

The club entered the second division Molonglo Shield in 1966, it's creation driven by the excess amount of rugby league players in Queanbeyan who could not consistenly make the cut for the Blues squad. Former Kangaroo president Denis Reid lauded the late Les McIntyre for his support of the fledgling club, and attributed much of it's success to the Queanbeyan Blues legend.

"He was the father of rugby league here, it was all Les McIntyre's idea to keep players in Queanbeyan rather than having them heading over the border and playing for the Canberra teams," Reid said.

"Les said that while the new club would weaken his club to a certain extent, the venture would be supported because it would be in the future interest of rugby league and the progress of rugby league in Queanbeyan."

McIntyre may have felt regret at a later stage, particularly after the Kangaroos ascended to the Group 8 competition alongside the Blues in 1968, resulting in one of the longest and most bitter sporting rivalries in local history. The first derby played at Seiffert Oval resulted in a 19 - 8 win to the Blues, but the Kangaroos dynasty was just about to begin and in 1969, 1970 and 1971 the new addition to the Group 8 competition were also overall competition victors.

An article from the Queanbeyan Age on February 11, 1966 about the impending creation of the Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Photo: Queanbeyan Age.

An article from the Queanbeyan Age on February 11, 1966 about the impending creation of the Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Photo: Queanbeyan Age.

The 1971 premiership signalled the end of the Kangaroos' successful start and according to Reid, a culture shift in the club resulted in them failing to secure another premiership for the next 12 years, until 1983 when they again lifted the Group 8 trophy.

A period of struggle hit the Roos after their fifth premiership win in 1985, and it was not until 2010 when an Aaron Gorrell-led Kangaroos outfit were able to hoist any silverware above their heads.

Current Queanbeyan Kangaroos president Leigh Kiely spoke of the 25-year premiership drought and cited Gorrell's leadership and patience as great contributions to the club's recent successes.

"We realised that we weren't winning, we weren't successful at the time and we had a pretty ordinary culture that we wanted to stamp out," Kiely said.

"We wanted to get back to the winning, so at the end of 2009 we signed Aaron Gorrell, and he took over in 2010, and we have been pretty successful since then."

Gorrell's impact was quickly felt, and under the leadership of the former Brisbane Bronco, the Kangaroos broke their premiership drought and followed up in 2011 and 2013, narrowly missing out in the grand final of 2012.

"He's a very good coach, and we were very lucky to sign him straight out of the NRL," Kiely said.

"The nucleus of the side from 2010/11 is also still intact, so most of our experienced players have played in four grand finals, winning three."

The Queanbeyan Kangaroos will hold their official 50th anniversary dinner on the June long weekend. For more information, contact the Kangaroos Club on 6297 6222.

This story Roo's notch up half a century first appeared on The Queanbeyan Age.

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