Southport AFC revitalised and Owen Park was secured for Australian Football and the Magpies. Coach Harold Peacock and President Bill Rickhard lead a remarkable recovery to a premiership.

The first fully-fledged Gold Coast based Australian Football competition commenced in 1964 and the Southport Magpies were to dominate. Labrador Tigers and the Surfers Paradise Demons took the leap from junior football to field senior teams against the established clubs of Southport Magpies and the renamed Palm Beach-Currumbin Lions. A new administration was to take the reins at Southport after the disappointing end to 1963. (Patrons) G.Ulrick and Ralph Tobiano, (President) Bill Rickard, (Secretary) Don Napper, (Treasurer) Barry Barron.

In what seemed like a major coup for the club, the first former VFL player was appointed as a coach on the Gold Coast with the announcement of the signing of Keith Ball. Ball had not played senior football with the Melbourne based Magpies, but it did make for a good story in the Gold Coast Bulletin (Click here to read article)He was soon to be replaced by Harold Peacock. Ball stayed on the Coast and was later involved with the Labrador AFC.

Australian Football and the Southport AFC were to gain a tenuous and contested hold on Owen Park after a battle with Rugby League during the preseason. Rugby League had been strong on the Gold Coast pre World War II (Click here to read article)when fierce local battles were played out for the Plunkett Cup. In 1959 the Gold Coast Rugby League boasted 5 clubs (Sea Lions, All Whites, Nerang, Beenleigh and Burleigh). But by the early 1960s the sport had disappeared from the Coast at senior level. 1964 was to mark its return with a team playing in a Northern New South Wales Group 18 competition. Rugby Union launched in 1964 with one team playing in sub-districts grade in Brisbane. Soccer had one team playing against Northern New South Wales clubs. With 4 senior teams, 13 junior teams and a solid school competition, Australian Football was the premier code on the Gold Coast in 1964. But at a time when the Coast was expanding rapidly, the competition for the hearts and minds of young sportsmen was beginning to get tougher (Click here to read article).

Owen Park, part of the Southport Showground’s complex, was the venue for a series of inter-service matches during World War II. It made a glorious return to Australian Football in 1964 and was to become an important part of the club and Gold Coast football’s history over the next 25 years. A mid season lightning premiership was held at Owen Park and the Magpies gained one of its first pieces of silverware with a 10.3.63 to 3.3.21 victory over Surfers Paradise in the final game. Owen Park also hosted its first QAFL game when Morningside and Wilston Grange (Click here to read team lists) played a home and away match in July in front of 2500 spectators (Click here to read article). A Gold Coast representative team, with Southport players Peacock, Dalgrin, Brown, Burns and Ahrens, were narrowly defeated by QAFL reserve grade premiers University in a curtain raiser that day. Kedron and Western Districts also played a fixture match at Owen Park in August. A 17-year-old Alan Mackenzie played his first full senior game for Wests that day alongside Queensland Team of the Century member Ray Hughson (Click here to read team lists).

Col Hoy, former test cricket umpire, Brisbane media representative and AFL Queensland Hall of Famer, in his preview of the Morningside v Wilston Grange match, summarised the remarkable development of the code on the Gold Coast in his own inimitable, colorful prose.

Four years ago on the Gold Coast, land of bikini belles, Jack Evan’s Porpoise Pool, Margo Kelly’s and the Chair Lift, a lusty bawling infant by the name of “Aussie Rules” was born. I say lusty, because he does not appear to have had many of those teething troubles, which always go with youth and bawling, because he makes a very big noise down the coast area. He has ovals which clubs inBrisbane would be mighty proud. Owen Park in Southport, is a particularly good area, and drew quite a lot of favorable comment from the South African cricketers when they were here … The newspapers are full of this visit … Your radio has been doing a good job also, in fact, from what I can see, you are not too far behind the Beatles with your promotional work.

(The Football Record, July 11/12, 1964, p.2)  

A mid season Gold Coast representative match against Morningside at Salk Oval drew 1200 spectators to a thrilling encounter.Southport’s Dalgrin, Brown and Peacock were instrumental in a last minute victory (Gold Coast 11.14.80 defeated Morningside 10.14.74) described vividly by the Gold Coast Bulletin.

The minutes seemed to fly and still Gold Coast was trailing; when a high flying mark by Harold Peacock steadied and then booted the kick of the season, a torpedo punt which probably covered 70 yards right through the centre scoring a vital goal which placed Gold Coast five points in front with half a minute to go.

(Gold Coast Bulletin June 10, 1964, p.43)

The growth of the competition was to see some of Southport’s founding members depart to strengthen the new clubs. Former Captain Coach Ken McDonald and star recruit Bob Penney were to line up with Surfers Paradise in 1964. Administrator’s John McCann and John Trumbull became key personnel off the field for Labrador. Inaugural Treasurer Roy Franks became involved at Surfers Paradise and his nephew Don became a champion player for the Demons.

Southport’s season opened with narrow victories over Palm Beach-Currumbin and Labrador, followed by a season high thumping 28.18.186 to 8.10.58 of Surfers Paradise with former junior Peter Nolan kicking eight goals. A narrow five-point loss to Palm Beach-Currumbin in round 4 sparked a goal orgy over the next few matches by the Magpies. Scores of 26.34, 22.13, 21.19 and 23.29 were to follow as the club asserted its superiority (Click here to read article). A late season 1 point loss to Palm Beach was the wake up call required as the club finished the season as minor premiers (Southport 44, PBC 32, Surfers 30, Labrador 2).

Harold Peacock’s early influence at the club was notable. During the season he was consistently named in the best players and his leadership was regularly acknowledged. His experience and nous were decisive during the Magpies 1964 finals campaign. With the club’s only two losses for the year coming against Palm Beach-Currumbin it was a surprise that eventual Grand Final opponents were to be the Surfers Paradise Demons. Peacock led the Magpies to victory with Dave Burns and Ken Rodger in the best players. The Gold Coast Bulletin was to report:

Southport defeated Surfers Paradise in a very even game until the third quarter when the tactics of Southport’s captain (Harold Peacock) proved the turning point.

(Gold Coast Bulletin August 28, 1964, p.39)

A junior premiership continued to elude the club with the under 16s going down to Surfers Paradise by five goals.

The season concluded with a Best and Fairest function at the residence of President Bill Rickard. Rickhard’s leadership and hard work in revitalising the club were recognised at the following year’s Annual General Meeting where he was bestowed with the Southport AFC’s first life membership (Click here to read article). 

Other articles/photos:

(Harold Peacock)

(Harold Peacock leading the team out)

(1964 Premiership team)

1964 Match Results

Date  Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
Round 1 Sunday 12 April Salk Oval PBC 8.9.57 Southport 8.15.63 (Best: Peacock, Nolan, Burns)
Round 2 Sunday 19 April Labrador Labrador 10.6.66 Southport 11.17.83 (Best: D.Napper, Burns, Sharp, Brown, Peacock, Hood)
Round 3 Sunday 26 April Owen Park Southport 28.18.186 Surfers 8.10.58 (Best: L.Napper, Burns, Manuel)
Round 4 Sunday 17 May Owen Park Southport 8.12.60 PBC 10.5.65 (Best: Peacock, Burns, Brown)
Round 5 Sunday 24 May Labrador Labrador 3.5.23 Southport 26.34.190 (Best: D.Napper, Peacock, Tucker, Burn) (Nolan 8)
Round 6 Sunday 14 June Surfers Paradise Surfers 11.8.74 Southport 22.13.145 (Best: Dalgrin, Peacock, Manuel, Napper, Burns)
Round 7 Sunday 21 June Salk Oval PBC 7.13.55 Southport 21.19.145 (Best: Blake, Barren, Tucker, L.Napper)
Round 8 Sunday 28 June Owen Park Southport 23.29.167 Labrador 11.7.73 (Best: Manuel, D.Napper, Ahrens, Hood)
Round 9 Sunday 5 July Owen Park Southport 13.14.92 Surfers 11.7.73 (Best: Peacock, Burns, Manuel, Napper)
Round 10 Sunday  19 July Owen Park Southport 8.8.56 PBC 8.9.57 (Best: Manuel, Ahrens, Brown, Peacock)
Round 11 Sunday 26 July Labrador Labrador n/a Southport n/a
Round 12 Sunday 2 August Owen Park Southport n/a Surfers n/a
Prelim  Final Sunday 9 August PBC 4.8.32 Surfers 7.16.58
Grand Final Sunday 23 August Southport n/a Surfers n/a (Best: Burns, Rodger)
Under 16 Surfers 10.9.69 Southport 3.9.27
Under 13 Currumbin 11.12.78 Coolangatta 2.1.13