A FIERCE but friendly rivalry between two neighbouring rugby league towns will return to its peaks of the 1980s this weekend, when the Chinchilla Bulldogs and Miles Devils play for the Dagma Gleeson Memorial Trophy for the first time in 36 years.

Dagma Gleeson, the matriarch of one of country Queensland’s great rugby league families, had the trophy made in her honour in 1983, two years after she passed away.

For four years it was given to the winning team from the Chinchilla and Miles clash, which remains today one of the highlight fixtures on the south western rugby league calendar.

Miles captain Clayton Kuhl receiving the Dagma Gleeson Memorial Trophy from Ray Hicks and Dagma’s husband Joe Gleeson the last time the match was played in 1986

The trophy was last won by Miles in 1986 and for reasons unknown the silverware has been tucked away in the bowels of the Bulldogs Park clubhouse, gathering dust for more than three decades.

“We won the trophy in Chinchilla in ’86 and must have partied so hard that night that we forgot to bring it back home with us,” said current Devils president Ken Brown, who was part of the winning Miles team.

“Earlier this year I called (current Bulldogs president) Charlie Redgen to see if anyone around the club could remember what ever happened to the trophy. He had a look around the club house and, lo and behold, he found it,” Brown said.

“I’m not sure why the Dagma Gleeson game didn’t continue, but either way we agreed that it was time to bring it back.”

Dagma Gleeson with (L-R) sons Jack, Trevor and Mick
Jody Hart and husband Kevin

Dagma Gleeson was the mother of nine children – three girls and six boys. All of she and husband Joe Gleeson’s sons starting playing rugby league in Chinchilla.

Her son Kevin Gleeson captained Queensland for six years while Jack Gleeson played fourteen tests for Australia between 1963 and 1968.

Dagma’s daughter Jody Hart, who had the trophy made in her mother’s memory in 1983, said the family was thrilled to hear of the clubs’ plans to have it revived.

“The boys all played football and she loved the game. Wherever the boys were, Mum and Dad followed them,” she said.

“It wasn’t an easy decision for them to leave Chinchilla, but when the boys were chosen to play in representative sides they thought it was best for the family to move to Toowoomba.

“The boys were all very good footballers and it was no wonder that Dagma was a proud mother.

“I was chuffed when the Bulldogs rang and told me they were bringing the trophy back. It’s just lovely.”

Jack Gleeson, son of Dagma and Joe, who played 14 games of the Kangaroos

Chinchilla will run on as favourites at Bulldog Park on Saturday despite a heavy loss to St George a fortnight ago.

To make the revival of the Dagma Gleeson Memorial Trophy even more fitting, the Bulldogs will be celebrating their annual Ladies Day to highlight to ongoing contribution of the club’s girls and women.

The battling Miles Devils are working hard through a rebuilding period. Amid the retirement of several key players over recent years, the club has fielded a young and enthusiastic A-grade side which is beginning to convert hard work into points on the scoreboard.

This season they’ve recorded their first season win in four years, which captain Ryan Raynor said was a relief and an encouragement.


“We’re still loving it despite a tough period and I’m sure some more wins will come our way,” Raynor said.

“You’ve just got to keep working, and as long as everyone keeps showing up each week, things will improve.

“It’s always a good hard battle against Chinchilla and a good day of footy. We enjoy going up against them and Saturday should be a good day, especially being the Ladies Day.

“It’s always a bit more intimidating playing the Bulldogs at home. Running into that can bar in the second half can be pretty full on, but the atmosphere is always good so we’re looking forward to it.

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