Bulldogs prop Jono Drysdale dives over to score against St George. IMAGE: Linda Steinohrt

INTRODUCTION by HARRY CLARKE

ON A day that celebrated the life of one of the region’s widely respected rugby league figures, results on the field left the competition ladder looking like a fair reflection of a highly competitive first round of the Roma competition.

In A-grade, the undefeated Wallumbilla-Surat Red Bulls remain firm premiership favourites in 2021, while the Mitchell Magpies in second place continue to rack up crucial away game wins.

A solid win to the Chinchilla Bulldogs over St George puts them within range of the top position, and now ahead of Roma Cities, despite Roma avoiding an upset against Miles at Centenary Oval.

A weekend of spirited local rugby league was a fitting way to formally send off Chinchilla Bulldogs legend Russ Tomlinson.

More than a year on from his passing, Tomlinson finally received the farewell he deserved at his home ground, which couldn’t accomodate a full-scale commemoration last year because of pandemic restrictions.

IN MEMORY: Russ and Sue Tomlinson

Red, green and white jerseys from all vintages coloured Bulldog park as scores of family, friends and club members gathered to honour not only Russ, but his wife, Sue, who had passed away a year before Russ in 2019.

The couple are survived by son and daughter Angie and Wes Tomlinson and granddaughters Clarice and Naomi.

Following the formalities, Russ’s beloved Landcruiser ute led a lap of honour around Bulldog Park, followed by guests who passed the football and shared stories.

Then Wes Tomlinson and “dummy son” Brad Smith kicked a conversion at each end of the field.

Mixed with the sand that propped up the balls were small samples of Russ and Sue’s ashes, meaning they’ll remain part of the Bulldog Park’s hallowed turf for eternity.

Wes Tomlinson kicks for goal at Bulldog Park in honour of his late mother and father, Russ and Sue Tomlinson, while current A-grade captain Hayden Bender watches on.

TRIBUTE by ALAN SPEERS

Russell Tomlinson’s CV stamps him as one of Chinchilla’s finest footballing sons but there was more to the man I remember as a good friend in a 30-year period stretching to the 1980s.

The association, of course, runs deeper. This writer worked behind the bar with Russ’s late wife Sue at Chinchilla’s iconic Club Hotel for more than 30 years.

For a little while their son Wes was a team mate at the Chinchilla News. Daughter Angela lives just down the road.

Chinchilla had good and bad years in the period under review; RT, in common with the ‘Dogs fans, inevitably experienced the high and lows of every football outfit.

Sitting alongside him in the broadcast box was educational and amusing. And always there were stories of past exploits some of which found their way into News pages and which bear repeating today.

Russ Tomlinson hoisted high by fellow Chinchilla Bulldogs (L-R) Dick Wilkinson, Ken Henningson, Neil Wharton and Stan Green.

Tomlinson’s formative years were spent at his father Bill’s farm. But he was always going to make a name for himself in better footballing company.

Darryl O’Leary – among the many locals to farewell Russell at Saturday’s memorial function, was another Chinchilla product to gain his chance with the Dolphins.

Dick “Tosser” Turner, long-time manager of Queensland State of Origin teams, coached Tomlinson in the period 1963-66. When, years later, they met during Turner’s brief stopover in Chinchilla en-route to Waltzing Matilda centenary celebrations at Winton, talk turned to Russell’s first senior-grade game, against Wynnum-Manly.

As Tomlinson told the story, his pre-match nerves were not helped by the knowledge that the rival No 6 happened to be another Chinchilla-ite, John Gleeson, already a State player and destined to twice tour the UK with the Kangaroos.

“We won the game 10-8,” said Tomlinson. (O’Leary, subsequently lured to Brisbane, returned to Chinchilla where he became a Bulldogs stalwart).

Tomlinson, it might be remembered by long-time club tragics, made a one-off appearance with Chinchilla while registered with Redcliffe.

“We were short a player and I recall Russ’s appearance as a substitute excited the young players. I was about 23, “ said Wally Gleeson, who acted as MC at Saturday’s memorial.

In 1971, Tomlinson was a member of the Chinchilla team beaten by Colts in the Dalby RL grand final.

The Dogs’ Reserve Grade team also lost to Colts in the season-finale. More than 20 years later, the then captain-coach Ron Baker, organised a players’ reunion for the 1971 teams.

The News, reporting the get-together, noted there had been no second chances for the losing side, whose players were scattered far and wide, headed by Baker, gone from his post as Kogan school principal, by 1972.

And so it went on late into the chilly Bulldog Park night.

Russell Tomlinson, also gone but never to be forgotten.

Russ and Sue Tomlinson with son Wes.

Leave a Reply