South Queensland Crushers

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South Queensland
Crushers 1995.jpg
Club information
Full name South Queensland Crushers
Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) The Crushers
Colours Aztec Gold, Navy Blue & Red
Founded 30 November 1992 (first season 1995)
Departed 1997
Former details
Ground(s)
Competition Australian Rugby League
Home jersey
Team colours
Records
Premierships 0
Runners-up 0
Minor premiership 0
Wooden spoons 2 (1996, 1997)

The South Queensland Crushers were an Australian rugby league football club based in Brisbane, Queensland. In 1992 it was decided that the team would be admitted into the New South Wales Rugby League competition, along with three other teams, as part of the League's expansion plans for professional rugby league in Australia. The competition was re-branded the Australia Rugby League competition in 1995, which was the Crushers' first season.

The Crushers, whose whole existence was against the backdrop of the Super League war, were an unsuccessful club. They had to compete for support with the other Brisbane-based club, the Brisbane Broncos, who were already well-established. The Crushers only competed in the three seasons of the Australian Rugby League's premiership, winning the wooden spoon twice for being last in the competition. Despite the wealth of star players the Crushers managed to attract, they were financially unsustainable and competitively unsuccessful, which ultimately led to their demise at the end of 1997.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The New South Wales Rugby League competition (NSWRL) had begun in 1908 as a rugby league competition in the Sydney region of Australia. For the next eighty years, the league would only feature clubs in the New South Wales region. But in 1988, the NSWRL admitted two Queensland based teams, one from Brisbane and the other from Gold Coast. The Brisbane club was the first NSWRL club to be privately owned and by 1992 had won their first premiership. On 30 November 1992, the NSWRL formally admitted a second Brisbane-based team into the competition, along with three others, from Townsville, Perth and New Zealand. The newly established Brisbane team was to be known as the South Queensland Crushers, and would enter the 1995 NSWRL competition, which had been renamed the Australian Rugby League competition (ARL).[1]

In September 1993, the Crushers chose Bill Gardner as the coach for the team, but after a poor off-season, he was replaced by former Australian international Bob Lindner. Darryl van der Velde, an experienced rugby league coach from England, was the club's inaugural chief executive. The club had chosen Lang Park as their home ground which had been abandoned by the Brisbane Broncos in favour of QE II Stadium in 1992.[1]

The Crushers were able to sign Queensland representative players Trevor Gillmeister, Mark Hohn and Dale Shearer, as well as three rugby union players including Garrick Morgan who had represented Australia in the fifteen-man code. The Crushers had attempted to lure former Australian international captain Mal Meninga from retirement for one more season, but failed. By the beginning of the 1995 competition, the Crushers had also signed North Sydney forward Mario Fenech, who the club named as their captain.[1] The club's major sponsor was XXXX with Qantas announced as the sleeve sponsor.

The first season[edit]

The Crushers' first match was against the previous season's premiers, Canberra which they lost along with their next three before winning their first match 16-12 against North Sydney in Round five. An injury to Dale Shearer and the difficulties for Garrick Morgan to adapt to rugby league saw the Crushers fail to utilise much of its attacking potential. Captain Fenech was dropped to the interchange bench and lost the captaincy which was passed on to Gillmeister. The season’s end was dampened after coach Lindner and Fenech feuded, resulting in Fenech being released from the final year of his contract.[1]

In the 1995 season, the club had only won six and drew another in the twenty-two games played. In 1995, News Limited, a mass media company, began deliberating a rival rugby league competition, the Super League, and with the rival Broncos a key part of the plans for Super League, the Crushers remained loyal to the ARL competition. The Crushers believed that they would survive and be able to compete on their own. The ARL supported this despite the disappointing results of their first season because of the high home ground crowds, with supporters averaging over 21,000 a season.[1]

Round Home Score Away Date Venue Crowd
1 South Queensland Crushers 6–24 Canberra Raiders 11 March 1995 Lang Park 21,102
2 Parramatta Eels 26–2 South Queensland Crushers 18 March 1995 Parramatta Stadium 8,080
3 Penrith Panthers 34–12 South Queensland Crushers 26 March 1995 Penrith Stadium 8,024
4 Brisbane Broncos 32–0 South Queensland Crushers 31 March 1995 QE II 49,607
5 South Queensland Crushers 16–12 North Sydney Bears 9 April 1995 Lang Park 19,233
6 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 38–10 South Queensland Crushers 16 April 1995 Brookvale Oval 10,616
7 South Queensland Crushers 24–24 Illawarra Steelers 23 April 1995 Lang Park 16,253
8 South Queensland Crushers 33–14 Parramatta Eels 30 April 1995 Lang Park 19,421
9 Sydney City Roosters 17–6 South Queensland Crushers 7 May 1995 Sydney Football Stadium 5,556
10 South Queensland Crushers 28–18 Newcastle Knights 21 May 1995 Lang Park 21,072
11 South Queensland Crushers 4–20 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 4 June 1995 Lang Park 22,258
12 Sydney Tigers 16–12 South Queensland Crushers 17 June 1995 Parramatta Stadium 3,225
13 South Queensland Crushers 28–8 Penrith Panthers 25 June 1995 Lang Park 19,753
14 Western Suburbs Magpies 38–14 South Queensland Crushers 1 July 1995 Campbelltown Stadium 4,707
15 South Queensland Crushers 20–24 South Sydney Rabbitohs 9 July 1995 Lang Park 19,288
16 Gold Coast Seagulls 8–14 South Queensland Crushers 15 July 1995 Seagulls Stadium 6,731
17 South Queensland Crushers 10–22 Auckland Warriors 23 July 1995 Lang Park 28,928
18 Western Reds 22–14 South Queensland Crushers 28 July 1995 WACA 9,103
19 South Queensland Crushers 22–6 North Queensland Cowboys 6 August 1995 Lang Park 17,105
20 St. George Dragons 16–6 South Queensland Crushers 13 August 1995 Kogarah Oval 9,091
21 South Queensland Crushers 18–25 Sydney Bulldogs 20 August 1995 Lang Park 26,904
22 Canberra Raiders 58–4 South Queensland Crushers 27 August 1995 Bruce Stadium 19,107

1996 season[edit]

The club had bought five players from the Sydney Roosters to help them improve from their inaugural season, and Queensland representative Tony Hearn also joined the club for the 1996 season. The opening round of the 1996 season the club gathered two points because of Canberra’s forfeit but the club only recorded three more wins in the entire season gathering six points on the competition ladder and took the wooden spoon for being last on the ladder. The Crushers won the second round clash against Parramatta before losing ten in a row. The Crushers then won two in a row before plummeting to lose their last eight matches.[1]

Despite a record crowd that watched the Crushers take on the Brisbane Broncos of 34,263, the Crushers home ground support only averaged over 13,000 each game. The diminishing crowd numbers and player payments meant the club was on the brink of bankruptcy. The ARL and a mystery supporter bailed the club out with over half a million dollars in financial relief. With first-grade rugby league divided between two competitions, it would be hard for the Crushers to recoup lost money in establishing the club as it ploughed further into debt.[1]

Round Home Score Away Date Venue Crowd
1 Canberra Raiders forfeit South Queensland Crushers
2 South Queensland Crushers 24–20 Parramatta Eels 29 March 1996 Lang Park 12,704
3 South Queensland Crushers 4–22 Penrith Panthers 7 April 1996 Lang Park 11,694
4 South Queensland Crushers 8–28 Brisbane Broncos 12 April 1996 Lang Park 34,263
5 North Sydney Bears 18–4 South Queensland Crushers 21 April 1996 North Sydney Oval 7,871
6 South Queensland Crushers 6–14 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28 April 1996 Lang Park 15,202
7 Illawarra Steelers 18–14 South Queensland Crushers 5 May 1996 Wollongong Stadium 4,883
8 Parramatta Eels 14–4 South Queensland Crushers 11 May 1996 Parramatta Stadium 9,621
9 South Queensland Crushers 12–38 Sydney City Roosters 25 May 1996 Lang Park 10,107
10 Newcastle Knights 22–6 South Queensland Crushers 9 June 1996 Marathon Stadium 17,559
11 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 28–4 South Queensland Crushers 15 June 1996 Shark Park 7,071
12 South Queensland Crushers 2–12 Sydney Tigers 22 June 1996 Lang Park 10,166
13 Penrith Panthers 16–20 South Queensland Crushers 30 June 1996 Penrith Stadium 4,215
14 South Queensland Crushers 24–22 Western Suburbs Magpies 7 July 1996 Lang Park 8,961
15 South Sydney Rabbitohs 48–16 South Queensland Crushers 14 July 1996 Redfern Oval 3,107
16 South Queensland Crushers 4–52 Gold Coast Chargers 21 July 1996 Lang Park 8,776
17 Auckland Warriors 16–12 South Queensland Crushers 28 July 1996 Mt Smart Stadium 17,000
18 South Queensland Crushers 16–18 Western Reds 4 August 1996 Lang Park 7,789
19 North Queensland Cowboys 11–6 South Queensland Crushers 9 August 1996 Stockland Stadium 24,989
20 South Queensland Crushers 8–26 St. George Dragons 18 August 1996 Lang Park 9,567
21 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 17–16 South Queensland Crushers 25 August 1996 Belmore Oval 5,025
22 South Queensland Crushers 10–36 Canberra Raiders 1 September 1996 Lang Park 13,945

The final season[edit]

The 1997 season was not much better for the Crushers, again taking the wooden spoon for the second year running. Major sponsor XXXX was replaced as the major sponsor by AVJennings. The club only won four games of the twenty-two match season. The 1997 season for the Crushers saw their home game attendances dwindle to an average of 7,000 and even with free days, which allowed supporters to come to the games free of charge, the club didn’t gather support as it had in its inaugural season. The Crushers did however win their final match of the season convincingly 39-18 over the Western Suburbs Magpies and along with the North Sydney Bears and Newtown Jets, the South Queensland Crushers remain one of the few defunct clubs to have won their final game.[1]

Round Home Score Away Date Venue Crowd
1 Sydney City Roosters 34–10 South Queensland Crushers 9 March 1997 Sydney Football Stadium 8,475
2 South Queensland Crushers 23–6 Parramatta Eels 16 March 1997 Lang Park 9,523
3 Newcastle Knights 44–0 South Queensland Crushers 23 March 1997 Marathon Stadium 15,114
4 South Queensland Crushers 16–36 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 29 March 1997 Lang Park 9,147
5 Illawarra Steelers 14–6 South Queensland Crushers 6 April 1997 WIN Stadium 6,144
6 South Queensland Crushers 14–22 Gold Coast Chargers 13 April 1997 Lang Park 5,290
7 South Sydney Rabbitohs 24–20 South Queensland Crushers 20 April 1997 Sydney Football Stadium 4,353
8 South Queensland Crushers 16–18 Balmain Tigers 25 April 1997 Lang Park 5,998
9 St. George Dragons 32–22 South Queensland Crushers 4 May 1997 Kogarah Oval 5,003
10 South Queensland Crushers 22–36 North Sydney Bears 10 May 1997 Lang Park 5,447
11 Western Suburbs Magpies 32–12 South Queensland Crushers 18 May 1997 Campbelltown Stadium 5,732
12 South Queensland Crushers 28–14 Sydney City Roosters 23 May 1997 Lang Park 5,518
13 Parramatta Eels 52–10 South Queensland Crushers 8 June 1997 Parramatta Stadium 10,009
14 South Queensland Crushers 6–24 Newcastle Knights 28 June 1997 Lang Park 4,769
15 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 46–12 South Queensland Crushers 6 July 1997 Brookvale Oval 5,055
16 South Queensland Crushers 8–34 Illawarra Steelers 19 July 1997 Lang Park 2,364
17 Gold Coast Chargers 40–18 South Queensland Crushers 27 July 1997 Carrara Stadium 8,392
18 South Queensland Crushers 17–16 South Sydney Rabbitohs 3 August 1997 Lang Park 3,545
19 Balmain Tigers 32–14 South Queensland Crushers 10 August 1997 Leichhardt Oval 5,101
20 South Queensland Crushers 0–14 St. George Dragons 17 August 1997 Lang Park 13,845
21 North Sydney Bears 42–8 South Queensland Crushers 24 August 1997 North Sydney Oval 7,308
22 South Queensland Crushers 39–18 Western Suburbs Magpies 31 August 1997 Lang Park 11,588

Demise[edit]

With the unification of the Australian Rugby League and Super League competitions following the 1997 season, the new National Rugby League competition was formed. This meant that three of the twenty-two teams participating in 1997 would be axed as part of the rationalisation process aimed at reducing teams to an optimal number. With the introduction of the Melbourne Storm and the fact that the agreement between the Australian Rugby League and Super League was to have a fourteen-team competition in 2000, the future for the Crushers was inevitably demise.[1]

In late 1997, the club's only option of survival was to merge, with the most likely contender the Gold Coast Chargers, who like the Crushers, were struggling to be able compete in the competition with the hugely successful Brisbane Broncos being the dominant team in south-east Queensland. However, the National Rugby League approved the Gold Coast team for the 1998 season, and they went alone into the re-unified competition. The South Queensland Crushers were liquidated in December 1997 with debts totalling over A$3 million.[1]

Season Summaries[edit]

Season Pld W D L PF PA PD W% Position
Australian Rugby League season 1995 22 6 1 15 303 502 -199 27.27% 16/20
Australian Rugby League season 1996 21 3 0 18 220 496 -276 14.29% 20/20
Australian Rugby League season 1997 22 4 0 18 321 630 -309 18.18% 12/12
Total 65 13 1 51 844 1628 -784 20%

Notable players[edit]

Over their three-year presence in the Australian Rugby League premiership, the club managed to produce one Australian international player, Trevor Gillmeister.

Other notable players include Mario Fenech, Danny Nutley, Tony Kemp, Phillip Lee and Dale Shearer. Players who went on to be successful with other clubs include Clinton Schifcofske, Mark Tookey, Scott Sattler, Travis Norton, Chris McKenna, St John Ellis, Steele Retchless and Danny Nutley.

Records[edit]

Biggest Wins[edit]

Margin Score Opponent Venue Date
21 39-18 Western Suburbs Magpies Lang Park 31 August 1997
20 28-8 Penrith Panthers Lang Park 25 June 1995
19 33-14 Parramatta Eels Lang Park 30 April 1995

Biggest Losses[edit]

Margin Score Opponent Venue Date
54 4-58 Canberra Raiders Bruce Stadium 25 August 1995
48 4-52 Gold Coast Chargers Lang Park 21 July 1996
44 0-44 Newcastle Knights Marathon Stadium 23 March 1997

Longest Winning Streak: 2 matches, 30 June - 7 July 1996.

Longest Losing Streak: 10 matches, 7 April - 22 June 1996.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Whiticker, Alan & Collis, Ian (2004). The History of Rugby League Clubs. New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-74110-075-5. 

References[edit]