February 5, 2024
Rugby league legend Gordon Tallis talked footy – and bouncing back – to an appreciative audience gathered at the Proston Men’s Shed on Saturday night.
The get-together was organised by the South Burnett Regional Council with funding from the Federal Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery grants program.
The league star – who played for St George, the Broncos, Maroons and Australia – talked about growing up in Townsville, the support he received from his parents and the almost accidental way his career began at the St George Dragons, thanks mainly to Rod “Rocket” Reddy.
After being recommended for a tryout, Tallis turned up in Sydney at age 18 and lived in a share house with other young footballers. He initially played in the then-Under 19s Jersey Flegg competition but before the year was out, had played in U21s, Reserve Grade and then made his first grade debut against Wests Magpies.
“It was a massive learning curve … mum and dad paid $600 to get me down there so I didn’t want to let them down,” he said.
A year later, he played for St George in the 1993 Grand Final against Brisbane.
Before the game, singing star Tina Turner came into the dressing shed to talk to the players.
“I thought wow .. I thought I’d made it” but when the Dragons were defeated 14-6, Tallis came crashing down.
From that moment, he never let “white noise” distract him again from what was important.
“If we had won that game, I would never have learned that,” he said.
Tallis also spoke about the challenges that had occurred during his life, including sitting out a year from football during the Super League war after he told a newspaper he would do just that.
Other players backed down, but Tallis listened to his father’s advice about sticking to his word.
“It was a valuable lesson … I am 51 this year, I have carried that lesson for 30 years,” he said.
He also tackled the other challenges that he has had to face up to during his life, including his infamous State of Origin run-in with referee Bill Harrigan, his neck injury (he has two fused vertebrae), tax bills and his divorce.
Tallis said there were always certain hurdles you have “to jump over” in life.
“You keep on doing what you have to do to keep on going in life,” he said.
“A lot of kids these days get scared of failing.
“If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried.”
“Stay busy … don’t feel sorry for yourself … don’t be too scared to say ‘I need help’.”