FLASHBACK: Nanango Panthers from another era …  Greg McAllen-Browne, Geoff Walters, Dennis Ballinger, Andrew Schloss, Kevin Hedges, Israel West, Gavin Singley and, front, coach Ted Tucker, Donald Franz, Russell Thompson, Anthony Donas, Mark Halliday, Nirvana Gorog and Brice Connolly (Photo: Reunion Dinner)

April 4, 2019

Many people are surprised to hear soccer has been played in the South Burnett for almost a century … and many are even more surprised to discover the biggest teams once came from the region’s rural areas.

For example, the 1927-28 Grand Final was fought out between Proston and Abbeywood, who had to beat teams from Mondure and Hivesville to battle for glory in the premier match of the season.

This unusual bit of history is the result of recent research by South Burnett soccer fans, who’ve been digging into the archives to unearth the often surprising story behind the growth of the sport.

They found the current governing body – Football South Burnett – appears to be the third incarnation of a South Burnett Soccer Federation that existed almost 100 years ago.

That body seems to have disappeared at some time in the 1930s.

But it returned in a new form with a different name after World War II, which lasted into the late 1950s or early 1960s.

It was followed in the late 1970s by the current body, which was fuelled by the construction of the Tarong Power Station.

The sport may even have been played as far back as the earliest European settlement in the South Burnett in the 1800s … but only future research will tell.

These facts – and many more – will be shared at Kingaroy Town Hall this Saturday night when a 40th Anniversary Reunion dinner will look back over the development of the most modern form of the sport.

Between the late 1970s and today, most of the fields soccer is now played on were laid out and turfed, and most club houses and canteens were built.

The foundations of the region’s annual inter-club competition between Murgon/Wondai, Kingaroy and Nanango began then, and continue to be played today.

The Reunion Dinner will attract more than 140 former players from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and further afield returning to the region to reflect on the past and marvel at the shape the sport is in today.

And it will be followed on Sunday with a recovery breakfast and an all-day Super Sunday derby at Tom Alford Oval, with four games between local players running from 9:00am until late in the afternoon.

Mick North, from Football South Burnett, said he expected an amazing weekend.

“I’ve had a look at the guest list of people coming to the Reunion Dinner and it includes many former greats that were local legends when they played,” he said.

“If you could transplant their heads on to younger bodies I think you’d have a team that could play in the World Cup.

“And I’m sure a lot of them will be amazed when they come to Tom Alford Oval on Sunday and see the changes that have been made there in the past few decades.

“When many of them were playing, our local soccer fields were not much better than paddocks and dustbowls.”

Local players are also very welcome to come along to the Reunion Dinner, but they’ll have to act quickly: ticket sales close at midnight on Thursday, April 4 to allow caterers time to prepare.

Tickets are $65 per head and can be booked online

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables


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