Casey O'Connor lifts the Locke Trophy after Stanthorpe won the premiership 50 years ago.
Casey O'Connor lifts the Locke Trophy after Stanthorpe won the premiership 50 years ago. Contributed

The greats from '68 to be remembered

Rugby League:

Attendees will be transported back to a bygone era on Saturday when a premiership first is commemorated.

It was 1968, pre-Gremlins days, when Stanthorpe Rugby League beat the odds to win their very first under 18's premiership in the Warwick and District competition.

This Saturday will mark almost 50 years to the day when the young upstarts triumphed.

"That Stanthorpe side was the first to win an under 18 premiership in that competition,” former player Casey O'Connor said.

On that day they overcame Tenterfield, Border Rovers back then, who'd been unbeaten throughout the season until they reached finals.

"It's a celebration for both our sides. They (Tenterfield) were minor premiers that year and in fact were undefeated.

"In them days, it's hard to understand, but we played them in the final and if you made the final and were minor premiers and got rolled you had the right of challenge.

"We beat them in the final, I think it was 15-5, then they had the right of challenge and we played them again in the 'grand' final,” Mr O'Connor said.

It made little difference as Stanthorpe won the second tie 15-2 on their way to a maiden premiership.

CHAMPS: The 1968 Stanthorpe Rugby League under 18 premiership winning side.
CHAMPS: The 1968 Stanthorpe Rugby League under 18 premiership winning side. Contributed

"It was a pretty big achievement... they'd been undefeated all year.

"So Sunday week would be 50 years neat to the day we played them at Father Ranger Oval in Warwick.

"I can remember it very, very clearly actually because I was the skipper of our side.” Ray Barr, now deceased, coached the side and Mr O'Connor said there's not a lot of the old boys around these days.

He still expects a healthy turnout on Saturday night for the get together. Tenterfield player's from that year have also been invited along to the event which will take place at the RSL. Casey has roped in a guest speaker for the evening. Rugby Sevens star, Olympic gold medallist and Stanthorpe girl Charlotte Caslick will be at the event and will join a Q&A session.

"The memories are all still there. It was a real highlight for us. Premierships in them days were very rare,” Mr O'Connor said.

"It was called the Locke Cup. Believe it or not I actually found the trophy - she looks a bit worse for wear but I've got it.

"I might put it on the Tenterfield table to give them a bit of a gee up.”

Stanthorpe beat out Warwick's Suburbs and Collegians, Texas, Goondiwindi, Tenterfield, Inglewood, Millmerran and Allora/Clifton to claim the Locke Cup.

"It was a very strong competition in those days.”

A certain Wayne Bennett was running around for Collegians at the time.

The evening gets under way at 5.30pm at the RSL.

People who aren't attending the dinner are welcome to attend the Q&A with Ms Caslick free of charge at approximately 7.30pm, Mr O'Connor said.

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