Collingwood recruits Ken Best. Owen Park hosts the first GCAFL night match.

It was a bumper season for Australian Football on the Gold Coast and one that started well for Southport. New Coach John Fildes (ex-Frankston) (Click here to read article) had the team functioning smoothly with only two losses to ladder leaders Surfers Paradise after ten rounds. Suspension and injury took its toll as the Magpies lost four of its last five games to limp into the finals. A last round loss to new club and bottom placed Lismore was indicative of a promising season gone wrong (Click here to read article). It was to end with a First Semi Final loss by 43 points to Palm Beach Currumbin (Click here to read article) in which the Magpies battled manfully after being reduced to 16 fit players shortly after quarter time. Surfers Paradise emulated Southport’s 1966 undefeated premiership stamping themselves as the strongest club on the Coast to that point. The Gold Coast Bulletin optimistically estimated the Grand Final crowd at 10,000 (Click here to read article).

Labrador reformed with the help of many ex-Southport players including Col Luhrs, Chris Manuel, Noel Martin and John Gray. Lismore also joined the GCAFL, and the league enjoyed a huge upsurge in interest and publicity after the disappointment of 1967. Labrador was super-competitive, and Lismore added a new dimension to the competition. Huge crowds were the norm and the envy of the other codes (Click here for stories).

A highlight of the season was the recruitment of Ken Best by VFL powerhouse Collingwood (Click here for copies of correspondence). Best had been recommended to coach Bob Rose by GCAFL President and former Collingwood great Ron Todd. Southport immediately cleared Best who travelled to Melbourne for preseason training (Click here for article). Some impressive trials saw his selection on the Collingwood senior list. Best’s dream was stymied however by Brisbane based QANFL officials, who invoked a “Protected State” rule that allowed them to stop talented players heading south (Click here for stories). After four months of waiting it out in Melbourne, Best returned to the Gold Coast bitterly disappointed. He was soon however back in a black and white jumper and was in Southport’s best players six weeks in a row.

Another highlight was the journalism of Gold Coast Bulletin scribe PUNT HIGH, whose articles appeared bi-weekly during the season. Punt High was of course the pseudonym of former Southport player Don Brown (Click here to see Don Brown marking in 1964) who was also active on the committee at the club and the GCAFL. Brown’s journalism was impartial and professional and was a real asset to the development of the code. He not only wrote articles for the Bulletin but also provided expertise to the league that ensured regular coverage in Lismore’s Northern Star, Tweed Valley’s Daily News, and the Surfers Paradise Mirror. Radio shows commenced on 4GG and 2MW, and regular reports were prevalent on television Channel 8. Brown was also instrumental in the establishment of the GCAFL’s first Football Record in 1968.

Part of the promotional blitz of 1968 included a Trans Australian Airlines (TAA) sponsored visit by Ron Barassi. This was to generate much media interest and was another boon for football in the area (Click here to read articles).

Army recruits Barry Rowe, Kevin Bright, Mick Collins and Neil Greene were to have good seasons for the Magpies, as did Terry Doyle who returned after a stint in Brisbane. Fullback Ken Rodger and Paul Hood also came back to Owen Park in 1968.

An indication that the club was beginning to take root and establish its own culture and history was the annual conduct of “old buffers” and ladies matches as social days at the end of the season (Click here to read article).

Surfers Paradise was again the nemesis of the Magpie junior teams, with under 14s (coach – Darryl Blake) and under 17s (coach – Carl Tasker) finishing runner up in both of those grades (Click here to read article).

In 1968 an incredible six representative matches were played by the Gold Coast. Two pre season matches against QAFL clubs Kedron and Wilston-Grange were part of a build up to a mid season Gabba clash with the Brisbane reserve grade representative team. In that year the reserve grade in Brisbane consisted of two divisions and 21 teams. Strong clubs like Mt Gravatt, Sherwood, University and South Brisbane were just emerging and played in this competition. It was therefore a sterling effort when the Gold Coast travelled to the Gabba to go down by three points in a thrilling curtain raiser to an interstate match. Western District’s rover and future club legend Alan Mackenzie was aQueensland representative that year.


The GCAFL received support from both the QANFL and ANFC during its first decade of development. AFL Queensland Hall of Fame members Harry O’Callaghan and Bruce Andrew were at the forefront of code development outside of Brisbane.

The Gold Coast’s first night match was conducted at Owen Park post season after lights had been installed (Click here to read article). A continuing close association with the Gold Coast City Council ensured that the Australian Football had facilities that were the envy of clubs in Brisbane and other codes on the Coast. At first it was hoped that North Melbourne would travel up to Owen Park for the first night match. Eventually strong QAFL club Windsor-Zillmere came down from Brisbane to defeat the Gold Coast 19.22.136 to 9.13.67. Ken Best, Dave Burns and Terry Doyle were named in the best players. The season seemed to never end with two more representative games against Mt. Isa club Saints and finally, on October 13, a narrow loss to the strong North Hobart club. VFL club South Melbourne was on the Gold Coast for their end of season trip at that time. Triple Brownlow Medalist Bob Skilton was somehow recruited to play for the Gold Coast in the North Hobart match. He was named in the Coast’s best players (Click here to read article).

Other articles/photos:

(Jeff Whittaker)

(1968 ladder)

(Cheer squad in the news)

(Gold Coast v Brisbane representative match)

1968 Match Results

Date  Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
Round 1 20/04/1968 Salk Oval PBC 8.8.56 Southport 14.15.99 (Best: Copeland, D Burns, Dickman, O’Doherty, Doyle, W Burns)
Round 2 27/04/1968 Owen Park Southport 26.11.167 Labrador 16.9.105 (Best: Taylor, Greene, Whittaker, Hood, Alexander, D Burns, O’Doherty, Collins)
(D Burns 5, Copeland 4, Greene 4, Taylor 4, Hood 3, Whittaker 2, W Burns 2, Doyle 2, Fildes)
Round 3 5/05/1968 Owen Park Southport 33.18.217 Coolangatta 2.9.21 (Best: Taylor, D Burns, Hood, Greene)
(Hood 5, Taylor 5, Twomey 5, W Burns 4, Whittaker 3, Green 3, Copeland 2, Bright, Fildes, D Burns)
Round 4 12/05/1968 Isle of Capri (home game) Southport 8.15.65 Surfers 13.12.90 (Best: Rowe, D Burns, Copeland, Fildes, Bright, Twomey, Doyle, Rodger)
(Whittaker 2, Greene 2, Twomey, Copeland, D Burns, Armstrong)
Round 5 19/05/1968 Albert Park Lismore 1.4.10 Southport 19.17.141 (Best: Collins, D Burns, Hood, W Burns, Copeland, Taylor)
(W Burns 5, Taylor 3, Greene 3, Alexander 3, Rowe, Copeland, Whittaker, Rodger)
Round 6 2/06/68 Owen Park Southport 25.25.175 PBC 7.7.49 (Best: D Burns, Taylor, O’Doherty, Copeland, W Burns, Best, Dickman, Hodgetts)
(Taylor 5, Doyle 4, Copeland 4, Hood 3, Jenkins 2, Best 2, Greene 2, W Burns, D Burns, Whittaker, Bright, Twomey, Waller)
Round 7 9/06/1968 Owen Park Southport 20.15.135 Labrador 10.15.75 (Best: Collins, Best, Doyle, Fildes, Bright, Blake, D Burns, Rodger)
(D Burns 4, Doyle 4, Best 3, Blake 2, Hood, Greene, Copeland, Bright, Alexander, Whitaker)
Round 8 16/06/1968 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 10.16.76 Southport 15.3.93 (Best: O’Doherty, Best, Whittaker, D Burns, Bright)
(Best 5, Alexander 3, Blake 3, D Burns 2, Hood 2)
Round 9 23/06/1968 Owen Park Southport 8.10.58 Sufers 22.19.141 (Best: Doyle, Best, D Burns, Collins, Buffington, Alexander)
(Whittaker 4, Hood 2, Doyle, Greene) (J Waugh 10)
Round 10 30/06/1968 Owen Park Southport 25.22.172 Lismore 7.12.54 (Best: Greene, Collins, Bright, Armstrong, Dickman)
(Hood 8, Best 6, Greene 6, Bright 2, Blake 2, Whittaker)
Round 11 14/07/1968 Salk Oval PBC 11.16.82 Southport 9.9.63 (Best: Best, Hauser, Hodgetts, Armstrong, Dickman, Bright, Halton)
(Bright 3, Halton 3, Greene 2, Best)
Round 12 21/07/1968 Labrador Oval Labrador 13.13.91 Southport 9.17.71 (Best: Doyle, Best, Alexander, Dickman, Collins, Blake, Armstrong)
(Doyle 2, Greene 2, Alexander 2, Best, Halton, Whittaker)
Round 13 28/07/1968 Owen Park Southport 21.25.151 Coolangatta 7.10.52 (Best: Doyle, Fildes, Armstrong, Alexander, Greene, Bright, Morgan)
(Doyle 8, Greene 2, Blake 2, Bright 2, Alexander 2, Armstrong 2)
Round 14 4/08/1968 Isle of Capri Surfers 15.26.116 Southport 8.12.60 (Best: Barron, Whittaker, D Burns, Halton, Bright, Morgan, Caswell, Crompton)
(Hood 2, Bright 2, Greene, Doyle, Alexander, Lewis)
Round 15 11/08/1968 Albert Park Lismore 11.9.75 Southport 4.8.32 (Best: Best, D Burns, Whittaker, Sullivan, Alexander, Morgan)
(Doyle 2, Alexander, Frith)
First Semi 18/08/1968 Owen Park PBC 16.16.112 Southport 10.7.67 (Best: Best, Whittaker, Greene, Doyle, Rodger, Blake, Morgan)
(Doyle 4, Fildes 2, Greene 2, D Burns, Crompton)
Second Semi 25/08/1968 Salk Oval Surfers 16.17.113 Labrador 6.13.49
Prelim 1/09/1968 Owen Park Labrador 11.14.80 PBC 15.15.105
Grand Final 8/09/1968 Salk Oval Surfers 11.15.81 PBC 10.7.67
Under 17 Surfers 12.10.82 Southport 5.8.38
Under 14 Surfers 8.12.60 Southport 1.2.8