Whitsunday rugby league in the beginning

1922 PROSERPINE A TEAM:  Back: W Compton, W Garbutt, F Grosskreutz, R Jensen, W Greenwood, G Dudley, J Ironside. Centre: F Nicholas, T Morrissey (manager), T Tracey (C), W Watts (trainer), F Greenwood. Front: W Warren, R Grosskreutz.
1922 PROSERPINE A TEAM: Back: W Compton, W Garbutt, F Grosskreutz, R Jensen, W Greenwood, G Dudley, J Ironside. Centre: F Nicholas, T Morrissey (manager), T Tracey (C), W Watts (trainer), F Greenwood. Front: W Warren, R Grosskreutz.

Whitsundays Rugby league historian Tony Price is writing a book about the history of rugby league in the Whitsunday region leading up to the player reunion next year. The Whitsunday Times will publish regular articles by Mr Price in the lead up to the reunion.


RUGBY league was first played in the Proserpine/Cannon Valley area as far back as 1909 and although there is no record of the game being played, there is mention of a representative game against Bowen in 'The Port Denison Times' of July 31, 1909.

Again in May 1910 there is mention of a game being played in Bowen against Proserpine, described as 'Cane Growers and Sugar Squeezers'.

The big thing in the 1915-1960 period was the excursion train and as early as 1920 more than 500 people from Proserpine would travel to Bowen to watch their players compete with Bowen in four grades (junior, C team, B team, A team).

It was a big thing in 1922 when the A team beat Bowen for the first time and Proserpine had a strong district competition with teams based at Cannon Valley (Rovers), Preston (Conway Rangers) and two teams in Proserpine, 'the Star of Hope' and 'All Blacks'.

This grew with the addition of Ramblers and Railways and by 1922 the competition was exciting and the talk of the district.

Early players for the Cannon Valley Rovers included Percy Amos as fullback and George Barr, Simon Fraser, A Holmes, R Gordon and W Morrison.

The All Blacks won the 1920 premiership thanks to players like Wally and Fred Greenwood, Charlie Brown, Quinny Hinschen, Bill Compton and Dick Stanley while the 1921/1922 premiers, Ramblers had a strong base with Sid McNeill, J Dafforn, Smiler Webber, Cobby Webber and P Brennan.

The Railways team which was formed in 1922 was captained by Tom Tracey, who was the best player in the district in the 1922 season.

Proserpine defeated Bowen for the first time on July 16, 1922 and the winning team was W Greenwood, W Garbutt, C Brown, F Grosskreutz, S Barriskill, W Warren, P Brennan, W Compton, T Tracey (C), R Jensen, F Nicholas, F Greenwood and W Considine.

Bowen actually led early 12-2 but the halftime score was 12-10 with late tries to Brown and Considine.

Five-eighths Brennan was injured shortly before half time and Wally Greenwood went into that position. Late in the second half Bill Warren made a break and sent Greenwood into score to win the game 13-12.

Both Warren and Greenwood were carried shoulder high off the field by the Proserpine players and supporters.

Anyone with old Proserpine photos or programs should contact Tony Price on 0427 451 913.

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