THE launch of a new book detailing a “short history” of the Ayr, Home Hill and Burdekin Rugby Leagues from 1916 to 1986 attracted a considerable amount of interest when the book was revealed in the Burdekin for the first time in November.
In fact, the popularity of rugby league in the Burdekin was more than evident with the number of people who attended the function at the Kalamia Hotel in Ayr, after the author, Martin Grandelis had promoted the book in The Home Hill News and other outlets in the months before the event.
The book, which was well received by those present as sales continued throughout the evening (with associated signing by the author), certainly went past the “short history” stage, as the final tally of pages reached 752—revealing a feast of stories and photos from that past era of the sport in the Burdekin.
In an address to the crowd, Mr Grandelis described the history of rugby league in the Burdekin district as a “fascinating and, at times, turbulent story”.
He detailed the history of the sport in the area from the formation of the Ayr league after a break from the Lower Burdekin Rugby Football Union with matches in Ayr from 1916 against Natives, Rainbows, Hornets and Ramblers teams, while the Home Hill League was formed shortly after with four teams eventually playing, Zambuks, Cities, Osborne and Iyah.
From that point, the book details the progress of the game on an annual basis through to 1986, their progress and successes or otherwise as they played each other and also competed against other leagues throughout the north.
The book also contains large numbers of photos that the author was able to obtain through rugby league contacts including many from the “Thomas Ralph Jackson Collection”, which had been used in the former Home Hill Observer over the years of its existence.
Mr Grandellis expressed his appreciation for the support he had received from numerous people throughout the north in producing the book.
The launch of the book also provided a unique opportunity for many men who had played rugby league in the Burdekin district to get together and reminisce about their years in the sport in the district.
The book launch brought back many former residents who used the opportunity to renew acquaintances with former teammates.
The book is now available from the Home Hill News & Coffee locally, as well as through other outlets in the Burdekin district and throughout other northern areas of the state.