By HARRY CLARKE
THE biggest annual sporting event to hit the tiny town of Jandowae in recent years will return next month when the home town Fishhooks host the Dalby Diehards in a preseason rugby league clash.
Since it began six years ago, the exhibition match between the two neighbouring towns has drawn crowds of close to a thousand people, roughly the size of Jandowae’s population itself.
Fishhooks spokesman Ben Davison said in a few short years the friendly fixture with Dalby had brought an exciting element of sporting tribalism to Jandowae, which hasn’t fielded a team for the regular rugby league season in 54 years.
“One of the best things about this game is that the people that come and watch – you’d never expect them to come to a footy game – but they come because they just love that they’ve got someone to cheer for – a jersey to cheer for,” Davison said.
“And it’s really tough footy. It’s sort of like a State of Origin mentality, playing against your mates from down the road.
“Plenty of fellas say it’s probably they toughest game they play for the year, even though it’s only a trial game. Guys just wanna belt their mates and get one over them.”
For the first time this year, a women’s game will be held as a curtain raiser for the open men’s game.
Jandowae has fielded a full squad of girls ready to capitalise on the support of a passionate home crowd when they host their sisters from down the road in Dalby.
SLIDESHOW – Miles and Jandowae women’s teams in a warm up match ahead of next month’s game against Dalby
“This is the first time Jandowae has had a women’s team and it’s an idea that just came about. A few girls said they’d give training a go, we got good numbers and it just went from there,” Davison said.
“They’re all different ages but they’re all keen as. There’s a few from Dalby and Toowoomba who are originally from Jandowae and they drive back out for training.
“Some of them might have even been joking about playing when the idea came up, but when they came to training they just loved it and kept coming back.”
BATTLERS PLAY TO DEFEND TROPHY DOMINANCE
The dominance displayed by the Reserve-grade only Taroom Wandoan Battlers throughout 2021 left many wondering whether the twin town team, given the opportunity, could have won the premier competition.
The boys in white and blue were undefeated from 20 games last year and claimed the Lindsay Williams Shield, the Terry Charles Cup and the Reserve-grade premiership in a season for the local history books.
And with 30 players consistently turning up for preseason training, assistant coach Brian Argus said the club was keen to defend its humble trophy cabinet.
“Last year we probably had the calibre to play A-grade,” Argus said.
“This year we’ve lost four or five of our most experienced players but there are plenty of new young fellas turning up, so I suppose it’s their turn now.
“We’ve got both the Lindsay Williams and Terry Charles this year (competitions in Wandoan and Taroom respectively) so that’s a big start to the year for us.
“We’re looking good. Unfortunately we’re going to have to pick a squad of 20 from about 30 blokes for the two tournaments. I suppose it’s a good problem to have as a coach but we want to keep everybody keen and have a good strong season again this year”.
BULLDOGS SHOW PRESEASON PROMISE
The Chinchilla Bulldogs are getting numbers to preseason training not seen for years as the proud club looks to rebuild to its historical strength as consistent premiership contenders in the Roma Rugby League competition.
The squad relished the opportunity over the weekend to host a preseason trial game against Toowoomba Brothers.
A wild electrical storm which swept across the north of Chinchilla as the game got underway made for some surreal scenes, as lightning strikes lit up Bulldog Park throughout the first two quarters.
Plenty of fitness training in recent weeks appeared to be showing results on the field, but coach Tim Keating said more defensive drill work was needed as the regular season approached.
“Our fitness was one of our plusses and guys were pushing up on the football,” Keating said.
“We’ve still got to work on our discipline a bit and getting numbers in the tackles. It was good to get a bit of a gauge on where we are for this time of year.
“It’s definitely been a good start in terms of getting numbers to training but there’s still plenty of room for more fellas.”
The final score was 26-10 to Toowoomba Brothers.
The Bulldogs will host A-grade and Reserve-grade trial matches between Pittsworth and Miles respectively on the afternoon of Saturday, March 12, before heading up to Taroom to contend for the Terry Charles Cup on March 26.