Do You Need A Degree To Coach High School Football Fog, Rain, Gales, Lightening, Swaying Power Lines and a Blackout and Schoolboy Aussie Rules

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Fog, Rain, Gales, Lightening, Swaying Power Lines and a Blackout and Schoolboy Aussie Rules

All the regional teams from Queensland turned up at the Toowoomba Show Grounds on Friday afternoon, excited and eager to compete in the 11th State Secondary School Boys Championships and play and watch some “good footy”. Early games were to be played under lights, which children loved to experience. But that was not to be. The weather that greeted Toowoomba that night was appalling and downright dangerous.

Before the start of the championship, a conference of visiting officials was held. After all the documents are completed; Arrangements for billeting and distribution of printed programmes, Darling Downs organizers told visiting officials, included a bus to transport the two teams that were not being billed. However, no drivers were rostered or bussed to and from the players to hostels outside Toowoomba for the duration of the championship. The organizers of the championship asked if any of the visiting officials had a bus license. A teacher trainer indicated that he had such a license. He was asked if he would drive the bus because one of the teams was, in fact, his team. So he rode the bus saying goodbye to his team, Brisbane South and the Gold Coast team. Had he known what he was in for that first night, he certainly wouldn’t have volunteered.

The opening night of the carnival, played at the Toowoomba Showgrounds, was extreme. Toowoomba is a very cold place in Queensland at its best during winter nights. Before the first night’s game, the weather turned bad. As the night approached the temperature was dropping rapidly and the sirens sounded freezing cold. But that was not all. Then, a thick fog covered the field so much that the officials could not see the goal at either end when standing in the timekeeper’s room in the middle. They only knew a goal had been scored when the ball bounced in the middle. It was also a miracle how the players maintained consistency in the game.

. This is what a teacher remembers about this championship.

Toowoomba showed little sympathy for the game with a winter spell that saw the Showgrounds shrouded in thick fog for most of the game. There are many stories of a referee rushing to the coach’s box and advising the teacher/coach to move to the far wing where the player was injured for most of the quarter.

The fog was so thick that no one could see the injured player. He was seriously injured. But he has a great story to tell his grandchildren.

Umpiring such a game was indeed not the easiest task. Both umpires struggled to control the game until the lights went out that first night. But the weather worsened!

The fog was followed by a violent, stormy rainstorm that hit the showgrounds. The showgrounds’ light towers were connected by long, plunging power lines. As lightning and thunder occurred during the storm, the wind picked up and the force of the wind increased. This caused the electric lamp wires in the post to swing awkwardly. Sparks started flying as soon as the wire was touched. Eventually, when they got really messed up, they threw out the whole system. The show ground went into complete darkness. The rest of the games played that night were postponed because the lighting could not be repaired until the storm subsided.

The drama did not end there. After abandoning the game the famous bus driver had to take him and the Gold Coast team to their hostel. Driving the bus through a violent storm through a narrow winding unfamiliar mountain road proved a great feat of human endeavour. He was forced to drive very slowly and carefully to ensure that both teams of teenagers arrived safely. Visibility was so poor at times; He had to get off the bus to see if he was on the road! On one occasion he had to negotiate a fallen tree. Whenever that Toowoomba championship is mentioned, he reminds his audience that his experience that night was one of the most traumatic experiences of his life.

Despite that night and some teams having to play two games the next day, the championship was a huge success. The Championship ended on a high note for Darling Downs supporters when their team won their first Championship game on the final day of the Championship.

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