Rugby league superstar Gordon Tallis with Proston Men’s Shed president Andrew McDonnell … another legendary night to discuss football and mental health

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.”

His advice?

“Stay busy … don’t feel sorry for yourself … don’t be too scared to say ‘I need help’.”

Former league star – now TV commentator – Gordon Tallis talking about the ups and downs of life
There must be an election on! Councillors and would-be councillors turned out in force at Proston on Saturday night … from left, Heath Sander (Div 5 candidate), Tom Wilson (mayoral candidate), Acting Mayor and compere for the evening Gavin Jones (mayoral candidate), Stuart Battese (Div 5 candidate), Cr Kathy Duff (mayoral candidate), guest speaker Gordon Tallis, Cr Kirstie Schumacher (mayoral candidate), Cr Scott Henschen (Div 6 candidate) and Linda Little (Div 2 candidate)
Proston Men’s Shed members working the barbecue … Michael Nott, Michael Wall and president Andrew McDonnell
Working hard behind the scenes were Kathy Crane, Lyn Manthey, Linda Rea and Joy Horne
Lanse and Leanne Rea, at front, with Pepe Gangemi … all from Murgon
Rachel Kent, from Murgon, with Mark Rutter, Wondai
Neil Collard, from Murgon, and Jim Rook, from Wondai
Reggie Bailey, Proston; Chrissy Collett, Proston; and “Rabbit” Selmes, Hivesville
Proston Men’s Shed members Ray Dionysius and secretary Zachery McDonnell
The crowd gathered under marquees after dinner to listen to Gordon Tallis


2 Responses to "‘If You Haven’t Failed …’"

  1. It was a great event, congratulations to those who put it all together. People who face adversity and come out the other side are always worth listening to no matter their endeavours. Gorden was very brave sharing his stories. Hopefully those in attendance can learn from his example and copy his resilience.

  2. I agree with Andrew. Gordon was a great speaker and I enjoyed this night more than I expected. Good on the Council and the Proston Men’s Shed for putting this on.

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