Western Districts Rugby Union Club
The story of the Western Districts Rugby Union Club & birth of Teachers West
Michael Carey recalls that just a little later there was consideration of another Townsville rugby club.
“In late 1973 three friends, Michael Carey, Dick Butler and Reg Gillen were having a beer and mulling over an idea to form an additional rugby club with a view to its participating in the TDRU competition the following year.
It was thought that the idea, if feasible, would be attractive to the TDRU on the basis that it would eliminate the bye that existed in the A Grade competition at that time.
The three decided to consult with others who might be of like mind. Among those who became involved were Jim Reaston, Steve Jones, and others. The inaugural coach was Angelo Alberts.
A potential source of playing staff was identified as rugby-playing members of the RAAF based in Townsville who were interested in playing for the same club. There was a substantial number of RAAF members interested in playing the game.
Approaches were subsequently made to the TDRU and the new club was accepted into the competition for the 1974 season.
It was decided that the club would be called Western Districts, partly because other clubs were located in and serviced the other main points of the compass in the city, and partly because it was thought that other new clubs might be formed in the future which might be named for their geographical location. Townsville was growing rapidly in those years.
The new club competed in both A Grade and Reserve Grade from the commencement of the 1974 season and continued on that path until, part way through the season, some RAAF members of the club were called away on military exercises. It became apparent that the club could not continue to compete in both grades for the whole season.
It was considered by the club leaders that from that time on it was feasible to contest only one grade, and strategically it would be more beneficial to contest the Reserve Grade competition.
The TDRU accepted the club’s application to withdraw from the A Grade competition and contest only the reserve Grade competition for the rest of that season with the hope that it could contest both grades the following year.
The new club was successful in winning the Reserve Grade premiership that season and moved on in the hope and expectation that it would grow sufficiently to contest both grades in 1975.
In fact, the club provided a number of players to the Townsville representative team in its inaugural year, including Michael Carey, Keith Moody, Tom Eastwell and John Cronin. Moody was already an Australian Combined Services representative player when he joined the club following a transfer with the RAAF to Townsville. He was in fact captain of the ACS team in that year and was therefore a valuable acquisition for a club in its infancy.
It became known late that year or very early the following year (1975) that many of the RAAF players were either going to be away for extended periods during the 1975 season, or transferred away altogether.
At the same time, it was becoming apparent that the demographic at the local Teachers College had become almost the opposite of what it had been in its early years. It was becoming difficult for the Teachers club to field two teams in the competition.
Carey and Butler discussed this matter between them and formed the view that a solution lay in a potential amalgamation between the two clubs. It was considered that if an amalgamation between the two clubs could be engineered it would be beneficial to both, particularly as one Club’s weakest field positions were the other’s strength. With that in mind Carey called Bruce Kennon, the Captain of the Teachers Club to sound him out about a possible amalgamation. Kennon indicated he would contact the members of his Club to obtain their preliminary views but on the positive side indicated that he personally saw the potential merit in the idea.
As a result, a meeting of the Western Districts Club members was called to discuss the matter and it was resolved that a formal approach would be made to the Teachers Club with a view to working through a process that might lead to a successful amalgamation. Carey again contacted Kennon and notified him of Western Districts’ attitude and sought a formal discussion to ascertain Teachers formal attitude and to see how to move forward.
All of this was carried out with considerable haste as the new season was fast approaching. Kennon responded shortly thereafter and it was resolved to call a joint meeting of both clubs at the Teachers College to discuss the proposal amongst all the members present. At that meeting it was resolved that the clubs would amalgamate subject to TDRU approval.
The new club was to be known as Teachers-Wests Rugby Football Club (later evolving over the years to Teachers West Rugby Club, in line with accepted international policy relating to rugby clubs). In that first year the original Teachers sky blue jersey (Bluebags) with maroon collar and cuffs was worn by the A Grade team while the Reserve Grade wore the original Wests jersey.
For the newly amalgamated club the 1975 season was extremely successful with the club playing in its first A Grade grand-final. Although unsuccessful on that occasion the club won its first A Grade premiership the following year.
Teachers West had early success on the field but it was the characters who made up the membership of the club that set the foundation for its illustrious future. These are just a few of many who could be mentioned.