Turtles Alexander McClymont gets lifted high to win the lineout during last year’s Spring Cup. The sport found its feet in Bundy more than 125 years ago.
Turtles Alexander McClymont gets lifted high to win the lineout during last year’s Spring Cup. The sport found its feet in Bundy more than 125 years ago.

How Union found its feet in Bundy

UNION: It’s one of the oldest football codes in Australia and rugby union is steeped in history in the Rum City.

Last week one of the current clubs playing the game in Bundy, The Waves Falcons, found a story from 1902 about the game and put a call out for anyone who had any earlier information.

The NewsMail dug through its archives to find that football back then – or union – was first played really competitively in 1893.

The sport started being played in the state in 1876 as clubs transferred from Aussie rules to union.

By the late 1880s the game took off and became the number one football code in the state.

It also spread to areas including Maryborough, Gympie and Charters Towers in 1888 and Bundaberg wasn’t immune to that, with the game coming to the Rum City.

But it wasn’t until 1893 that a competition was started to be looked at.

And it took a letter to the editor to get things going.

On May 22 a letter from a ‘would-be Bundaberg footballer’ was published in the Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser demanding the Rum City get its act together to form a competition.

He wrote: “Bundabergians, generally regard their town as much more alive than Maryborough, and yet the latter keeps three or four football clubs going, which weekly draw large and excited crowds together to watch the game, whereas Bundaberg cannot support even one.

“It is not that there is nobody here who understands the game, for there are a number of first-class players, including several intercolonial men, men who have represented Queensland against New South Wales.

“Then with this available talent as the backbone, why not form a new club or resurrect an old one, at the present is an excellent opportunity by reason of a club being formed in the Woongarra Scrub, with whom matches could be played more or less frequently, and in a short time Bundaberg footballers would be able to bold their own against any other provincial town.”

The letter kickstarted a meeting to form a Bundaberg side to take on a Maryborough team.

The game between Maryborough and Bundaberg was held on August 24 at night and Maryborough won 19-3.

The next year, clubs started to be formed and the Bundaberg Football Union was created on May 29, 1894, at the Grand Hotel with three clubs playing – the Wasps, Carltons and Burnetts.

Bundaberg also played Maryborough again and the sport was thriving in the region.

The competition expanded to having seven teams by 1897.

The game continued to thrive before rugby league came to the area and became the number one in town.

In recent years the game is still in the hearts and minds of the city, with Rugby Bundaberg holding the Spring Cup in the summer months. The move was made to summer from winter a few years ago.

Bundaberg currently has four teams – Turtles Brothers, The Waves Falcons, the Bundaberg Pythons and the Bundaberg West Barbarians, joined by the Isis Crushers and the Fraser Coast Mariners.



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