• (ABOVE) MITCHELL MAGPIES 2002 A-GRADE PREMIERS: Darren Hockey, David Witt, Malcom Mitchell, Les Irwin, Neil Hodgen, Willie Lemon, John Birkett, Matt Hughes, Clint Castles, Ben Hindle, Clinton Gordon, Ray Newton – Capt/Coach, Brad Baker, Nigel Steadman, Grant Goodman, Darren Bobbett, Clinton Mailman, Randal Beale, Matthew Anderson. STAFF: Tony Shultz, Geoffrey Kenafake, Micheal Tate, Frank Maiore, Chris Allen, John Hamilton, Andrew Short



VIRTUALLY every player from the mighty Mitchell Magpies’ champion team of 2002 will reunite for a home ground Old Boys Day on May 28, marking 20 years since the club last won an A-grade premiership in the south west Queensland rugby league competition.

As the current Magpies A-grade contingent makes a promising start to the season, organisers have special plans for the day which they hope will continue to inspire a winning mentality in 2022.

Replica club jerseys from two decades ago will be presented by the 2002 team to this year’s players before the game, and they’ll be auctioned off after the final whistle with proceeds being put back into the club.

“We haven’t won an A-grade grand final since 2002 and that 20 years is pretty significant, so we thought it would be good to get a few of the guys back together,” said Magpies president John Birkett.

“Some of them probably haven’t been back here for a long time. The good thing about Facebook is that we’ve been able to track 99 percent of them down, but there’s a couple who we can’t locate.”

MITCHELL MAGPIES 2002 UNDER-16 PREMIERS: Randal Hockey, Matthew Buldurs, Nathan Wichlacz, Lawson Black, Luke Burton, Brock Hamilton, Michael Anderson, Peter Beckey, Daniel Dodd, Kane Morvel, Keiran Gorry, Greg Hamilton, Adam Hamilton, Dane Burey, Toby Burey, Tynan Farndon, Brodie Edmedes, Drew Silvester, Damien Wichlacz. COACH: John Birkett, MANAGER: Ritchie Hamilton

In 2002 the Magpies also bagged the Under-16s premiership. Players from that winning team will also be attending to form a guard of honour for the current Under-16s as they run out onto the field.

May 28 will be a big day at the Magpies’ Kokoda Oval, colloquially known as “The Nest”.

The club be hosting St George for the fixture and and there’ll also be six games of junior football, making for a full day of rugby league.

There’ll also be a double header in Under-16s as the Magpies host a game between Roma and Wallumbilla-Surat.

Mitchell A-grade during a convincing win over the Chinchilla Bulldogs
Magpies lock Jackson Nicholls meets the Miles Devils defence. IMAGE: Harriet Brown

Having overcome Miles in an away game yesterday, the Magpies A-graders have now notched up three wins from four games in the 2022 season.

They beat Chinchilla at home last weekend and Birkett said is was a “different team” on the paddock compared to their loss to Roma the previous week.

“We played Roma the week before and they ran away with it, but last weekend we were like a different side and hopefully that carries on,” he said.

“It’s certainly been a long time between drinks (premierships). Our last win was 20 year ago and the time before that it was 28 years. Hopefully we won’t take another 8 years to win one.”


Despite vast distances which some players have to travel, the Magpies have been fielding strong numbers in all four senior grades this year.

And despite the introduction of the Charleville-based Western Ringers into the competition, a couple of Magpies players from Charleville and Cunnamulla have remained committed to the club.

“Over the years the ties that players have had to the Magpies have either been through relations that have played or mates of mates,” Birkett said.

“We’ve always had guys from surrounding towns such as Roma, some guys from out on properties and from the west.

“A lot of times young guys can’t get work here in Mitchell so they go to Roma, but keep playing for the Magpies, so we’ve been lucky to keep them involved” Birkett said.

“The four grades have got reasonable numbers again this year and we’re probably stronger now than last year, so it’s looking good for the season.”

Mitchell Magpies A-grade celebrates victory over the Miles Devils. IMAGE: Rileigh Lawson
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