Celebrating 75 years of Dolphins’ legends

Celebrating 75 years of Dolphins’ legends

From humble beginnings in 1947 at the Redcliffe Showgrounds the Dolphins has become a rugby league powerhouse, producing some of the game’s greatest players and now on the cusp of entering the NRL.

On February 27, the club celebrates its 75th birthday and everything it has achieved since that initial meeting.

Legends to emerge since then have included players like Arthur Beetson, who moved from Roma to Redcliffe to play for the Dolphins in 1964 and was part of the legendary 1965 Brisbane Rugby League Premiership-winning side, and went on to play in the NSWRL and Australia.

He returned to the Dolphins in 1981 and became player-coach.

Beetson is just one of a long list of league legends with connections to the club including Wally Fullerton-Smith, Trevor Harken, Kevin Yow Yeh, Greg Conescu, Mark Murray, Bryan Niebling, Petero Civoniceva, Peter Leis, Troy Lindsay, Tony Obst, Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner, Greg Oliphant, and the Bleakleys, Boxalls, Cherrys (including Daly Cherry-Evans) and Webbs.

The club has also had its fair share of high-profile coaches too including Ken Day, Frank Stanton, Arthur Beetson, Mark Murray, Anthony Griffin, Adam Mogg and now Wayne Bennett.

Redcliffe District Rugby League Football Club Inc was founded on February 27, 1947, and in its first year entered Under 17, Reserve Grade and First Grade teams into the Sandgate Suburban Rugby League competition.

Through the 1950s the club also played in the Kilcoy, Murrumba and Geraghty Cup competitions. On November 19, 1959 the Dolphins received full district club status and were accepted into the Brisbane First Grade competition.

The club won the Brisbane Rugby League Premiership for the first time in 1965, but lost all six Grand Final appearances from 1973-87, including Beetson’s final appearance in 1981.

Redemption came in 1994, when the club’s teams won four premierships. The Dolphins also won the competition in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

The Dolphins started playing in the Queensland Cup competition in 2006, beating Toowoomba in the Grand Final. The club won the Grand Final again in 2018 and is the most successful in the competition, appearing in 11 Grand Finals and winning six premierships since 1996.

TIMELINE

1947: The Redcliffe Dolphins founded, originally known as “Shellgrit”

1950: During the 1950s, Redcliffe played in the Kilcoy, Murrumba and Geraghty Cup competitions

1960: Dolphins accepted into the Brisbane Rugby League competition

1965: The club won the Brisbane Rugby League Premiership for the first time

1979: The club officially opened their new home ground, Dolphin Oval, moving from Redcliffe Showgrounds

1994: The Dolphins took out four premierships in one season

1996: Started playing in the Queensland Cup and won the competition

2006: The Dolphins won the 2006 Queensland Cup, beating Toowoomba in the Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium

2016: Stage one of the Dolphin Stadium, the Des Webb Stand, is completed

2018: Dolphins win the Queensland Cup, beating Easts Tigers in the Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium

2021: Dolphins win their bid for the 17th NRL licence

2023: Dolphins to play their first season in the NRL

Looking to the future

While everyone is keen to know just who the star players of new NRL team the Dolphins will be, it is not just player recruitment the organisation is focusing on.

Next year, the Dolphins will become the first Queensland team in history to graduate from the State League competition into the highest level – the NRL.

The Broncos, Cowboys and Titans were all new franchises rather than existing clubs.

The Dolphins are working hard to put a strong financial base in place under Chief Executive Terry Reader, the man who ran the bid to win the 17th NRL licence.

Being successful off the field is imperative to winning on the field under Wayne Bennett.

And with the Dolphins not receiving start-up funding from the NRL, the process of gaining national-level sponsors and growing a membership base is vitally important.

Some early membership options - including a premium Foundation Membership - will be launched in March, while companies such as Adventure Kings, XXXX and Classic Sportwear have already signed significant partnership deals with the Dolphins.

“There are a lot of systems to put in place to build a lasting financial base for the future of the Dolphins,” Reader says.

“People may not realise that the NRL does not provide any start-up funding for us – we essentially have to pay our own way on the significant set-up costs this year.

“So, our efforts in building a strong base through sponsors and the release of our early membership options are vitally important to the success of the team.”

Development of the game through player pathways is also high on the list, with systems already put in place to allow players from Brisbane and the Moreton Bay Regions to succeed at the highest level.

Building a winning squad

When it comes to on-field matters, the Dolphins are pleased with their progress.

The recent signings of the Bromwich brothers, Jesse and Kenny, from the Melbourne Storm have made all 16 NRL clubs sit up and take notice of the new team.

When you add the Storm’s international back rower Felise Kaufusi – the new club’s inaugural signing – the Dolphins will have half of the Melbourne forward pack that won the 2020 NRL premiership.

Add Rabbitohs’ 2021 Grand Final prop Mark Nicholls, Broncos’ international back Jamayne Isaako and Eels’ work horse Ray Stone, and the base of a strong squad has been established already by Bennett and his recruitment chief Peter O’Sullivan.

“I’m very happy with the players we’ve signed, they’re all quality players and quality people with good reputations in the game,” Bennett says.

“We’ve started by signing some quality, experienced players and then we’ll try and bring some younger players in around them. We’re in a good position.”

A message from Dolphins Chairman Bob Jones

The Redcliffe Peninsula Rugby League Club has had an amazing 75-year history since it was first formed on February 27, 1947 in a meeting attended at the Redcliffe Council Chambers.

It is striking to sit back and think about all the club has achieved since that date.

Did that group of pioneers envisage one day what a small football club from the far-flung peninsula could become?

Looking back on the minutes of that first meeting, I note that motions were carried such as organising a working bee to rake the stones and pebbles off the showground, and also the petitioning of the council to top dress the field.

Today that same little club is getting set to become an international sporting brand as it prepares to enter the NRL, the greatest rugby league competition in the world.

That history is important to the Dolphins because it has been built and handed down through generations of volunteers.

The club set a goal over 25 years ago to play at the highest level of competition possible.

And we wanted to make sure it was as the Dolphins, the emblem we had adopted in the 1960s to represent the club.

That is why we fought so hard to legally protect the trademark of the Dolphin for our own purposes when the new Gold Coast franchise wanted to adopt the same emblem back in 2006.

We fought and won that battle with our hopes of one day joining the NRL in mind.

In 2020 when the NRL announced they would be formally starting a process to find a 17th NRL team, we were ready to do everything possible to ensure the Dolphins would win that race.

Win it we did, and I can only describe that historic phone call from NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo informing us of our successful bid with three words – relief, elation and excitement.

Now the work starts again as we prepare to enter the competition in March, 2023.

This is going to be a wonderful time for everyone who has an attachment to the Dolphins, whether you have been supporting the club all your life or are just joining the ranks as fans of the new NRL team.

I know those pioneers who drove the establishment of the club would be proud of what we have built on our 75th anniversary.

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