Michael Close and Percy Iszlaub reminiscing at the microphone in the Wolves clubhouse

June 24, 2016

Former Wondai mayor Percy Iszlaub, 90, doesn’t only have a lifetime of council memories locked away, he was also a very important part of the South Burnett rugby league scene for more years than he cares to remember.

One day, as they chatted over a beer after the Wondai Races, former Wolves player Michael Close realised Percy had forgotten less about South Burnett rugby league history than most people ever knew.

Michael was in the middle of a project to copy old league photos digitally so they would not be lost.

He had been upset to learn that some of the club’s earliest records had been lost years ago when an official tossed them in an incinerator.

As he took down photographs from the wall of the Wolves’ clubhouse to copy them, Percy was sharing stories from his 17 years of rep football and 21 years playing with Wondai.

And so the idea of “A Night With Percy” came to fruition.

Michael spoke to local league legend Russell ‘Skippy’ Exelby (coach of the South Burnett Team of the Century) who started making the telephone calls to bring together some of the legends of South Burnett and Wondai rugby league to enjoy an evening of reminiscing with Percy over a beer or two in the Wondai clubhouse.

Skippy quickly had to stop inviting people as the night was becoming too big for the clubhouse to handle.

So last Saturday night, Percy and Michael again settled down upstairs at Wondai to remininsce and enjoy a beer … but with a microphone and a laptop loaded with photographs and their rugby league “family” listening and swapping memories of their own.

And this time it was all recorded for posterity.

Barry Green – the ‘Voice Of The Burnett’ in his radio sportscasting days, reminisced with old friends Tim Duggan and Mick Close; Tim came down from Mundubbera for the reunion
John Norris enjoyed a beer with old friends Reg McCallum and Percy Iszlaub before the evening got underway; John recalled there was only one game he never finished, and Percy gently reminded him that was probably the match where they’d both been sent off the field for unruly behaviour …
Eliza Iszlaub-Wilson had a fun ride on the knee of her grandmother Alison Iszlaub; all up, three generations of Iszlaubs attended the night
Percy shared his memories as the photographs were projected onto the screen … this is the 1933 premiership winning Wondai team
Percy’s sisters Norma and Eileen Iszlaub came along to enjoy the reunion too
Cherbourg mayor Arnold Murray with Graham Newson, Frank Malone and Mick Argeros
Mary Green, Nanango; Lillian Gray, Cherbourg; and Roma Oliver, Kingaroy … Aunty Lillian, a Cherbourg Elder, is the daughter of the late Frank Fisher, one of the finest rugby league players to pull on a guernsey whose skills inspired a young Percy and in later years became a friend
Val and Rob Guilfoyle, from Toorbul, and Jim and Chris Poulsen, from the Sunshine Coast
Graham Russell and Wondai Wolves secretary Kayleen Walters – along with many other Wolves helpers – organised the essentials of the get-together by running the bar and canteen
The Wolves’ Clubhouse was filled with people, and many memories, for the “Night With Percy”

* * *

A little bonus for local rugby league fans … with apologies for any errors, as these lists have been compiled from different sources:

South Burnett Team Of The Century (1908-2008)

  • Ian Pearce (Blackbutt) – Fullback  (captain)
  • Harry Pickering (Murgon) – Wing
  • Phillip Braithwaite (Murgon) – Centre
  • Allan “Buddy” Hunter (Nanango) – Centre
  • Liam Duggan (Wondai) – Wing
  • Frank Fisher (Cherbourg) – Five-eighth
  • Noel Liesegang (Murgon) – Halfback
  • Bob Dennien (Wondai) – Prop
  • Bryan Niebling (Murgon) – Hooker
  • Tom Duggan (Wondai) – Prop
  • Dave Brown (Kingaroy) – Second Row
  • Ron Schultz (Wondai) – Second Row
  • John Wittenberg (Kingaroy) – Lock
  • Jack O’Chin (Cherbourg) – Reserve
  • Frank Malone (Murgon) – Reserve
  • Allan Trunks (Wondai) – Reserve
  • David Moffett (Blackbutt) – Reserve

Coach: Russell “Skippy” Exelby

Cherbourg Team Of The Century

  • Jack O’Chin – Fullback
  • Johnson Mate Mate – Wing
  • Jack Simpson – Centre
  • Eric Law – Centre
  • Daryl Harrison – Wing
  • Frank Fisher – Five-eighth (captain)
  • Jack Malone – Halfback
  • Bill Hegarty – Prop
  • Norman Bird – Hooker
  • Les Wragge Snr – Prop
  • Darcy Burke – Second Row
  • Steve Hart – Second Row
  • Duncan Cobbo – Lock
  • Charles Hill – Reserve
  • Jack Watson – Reserve
  • Bev Costello Snr – Reserve
  • Arnold Murray – Reserve
  • Frank Malone – Reserve

South Burnett players in the Wide Bay Team Of The Century:

  • Ian Pearce (Blackbutt) – Fullback
  • Frank Fisher (Cherbourg) – Five-eighth
  • Bryan Niebling (Murgon) – Second Row
  • Tom Duggan (Wondai) – Second Row
  • Phillip Braithwaite (Murgon) – Reserve

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables


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