Burns plays 100 as Southport rebuild to finish runners up to a dominant Palm Beach-Currumbin.

The GCAFL and the Southport Magpies continued their phenomenal growth in a seminal season for the code. The Gold Coast Junior Australian Football League (GCJAFL) commenced as did a reserve grade competition (Click here for a photo of the inaugural Magpies reserve grade team). The GCJAFL initially encompassed three grades (under 11, 13, 15) with the GCAFL administering the senior, reserve, and under 17 competitions. With three senior teams the Magpies had 71 registered senior players (Click here for 1971 team lists). Lismore AFC exited the competition with many of its players flowing to a strengthening Coolangatta Blues. Broadbeach Cats entered the GCAFL after playing some social matches in 1970. Without a base the Cats played some of their home games at Owen Park.

The administration and management of the Magpies had become a much more complex task as the club grew to six teams with over 200 members. Given the transient nature of the Gold Coast there was much coming and going of members to and from all parts of Australia. President Leo Busch summed up the challenges the club’s growth provided in the 1971 Annual Report.

Each year in the administration of your club greater problems arise, more decisions are being made, and as you can see by the meeting attendances (the committee met on 28 occasions in 1971), your committee spends endless hours trying to keep the club on top, both financially and on the field. Being on the committee means work, work and more work. Gone are the days when we had a social game of football on a Sunday afternoon and had a meeting every now and then. The club has turned into a business and a pretty big business at that. Your treasurer’s report verifies this. We are getting a better standard of footballer joining us who is used in most cases to the way of thinking of southern clubs. We at Southport have to lift our thinking along (with) these fellows.

(Southport AFC Annual Report 1971)

The football community was deeply saddened by the sudden death of 1970 Southport Treasurer and Best Clubman Eric Smith (Click here for article) over the off-season. He was part of the Leo Busch team that had set the club up as the business it needed to be (Click here for 1971 Financial Report). Inaugural President Bill Woods continued his dedication to the Magpies in the role of Secretary. He stated his vision for the club in the 1971 Annual Report.

It is my earnest wish that the 1972 season will see the commencement of work on the long awaited club rooms and hope that the incoming committee will make this their main object.

(Southport AFC Annual Report 1971)

The behind the scenes work of women within the club was not always acknowledged within the media and annual reports. Two women who were however consistently involved through this era were Mavis Wood and Bette Busch. Their fundraising and hospitality were a real foundation of the club’s success.

Club legend Dave Burns was the first Magpie to achieve the distinction of playing 100 senior games in his eleventh season with the club (Click here to read article). Having started in the juniors in 1961 he made his senior debut in 1962. With recognition that some early seasons entailed less than ten games the magnitude of his achievement grows in significance. During that period he also played in over 20 representative games for the GCAFL. Burns was renowned for his tenacity and in spite of his medium stature his overhead marking was also a strength. He was rewarded with Life Membership in 1971.

Senior team manager Wally Fankhauser was awarded Best Clubman in a humble start to his life as a Magpie. Laurie Monson (Photo) was awarded Most Improved with Wally Hillis Best in Finals (Click here for all 1971 awards).

Brilliant Centre Stan Sheehan won the 1971 Best and Fairest in his second year at the club with other awards going to skilful half forward Rod Brown (Photo) and diminutive rover Ian Rapkins (Click here to read article). The Magpies depth had been an issue in 1970 but this was changed with players such as the experienced Terry Larkins and Geoff Alexander spending valuable time in a youthful reserve grade outfit. Larkins (Centre Half Back) and Alexander (Rover/Forward Pocket) did however line up in the senior premiership decider.

Football journeyman Des Collins was appointed coach in January (Click here to read article) following on from his caretaker role the previous season. Collins brought innovative training methods to the preseason including cross – country runs and stretching sessions with ballet divas! (Click here to read article)

Southport’s small division of Sheehan, Rapkins, Alexander and the Burns boys were the envy of other Coast clubs. Height, strength and depth however, had all been issues in 1970. These deficiencies were addressed upon the arrival of Collins, former Richmonddefender Wally Hillis (Photo) and Tony Gillard from Tasmania. With Utility Ken Best capable of holding down a key position, Mick Kelly slotting into Centre Half Forward and livewire new Full Forward Steve O’Loughlin (Photo), the Magpies had a spine that made them much more formidable. O’Loughlin did not arrive until round six but immediately had an impact kicking hauls of seven, eight, nine and ten goals in his first four games. A season high 14 goals in round 14 saw him average eight goals game for the home and away season and finish the year with a total of 91. Kit Cullen and Mick Power from Werribee were other handy acquisitions. The Gold Coast Bulletin’s Jack Rebbechi had this interesting description of the Magpies 1971 recruiting.

Southport was short of reserves and was a small side plagued by injuries. This season virile recruiting has given them depth, strength and class. No longer will they be a small side.

(Gold Coast Bulletin April 10, 1971, p.43)

Coming into the Magpies round ten blockbuster with Palm Beach-Currumbin both teams sat on top of the ladder with eight wins each. A star-studded Lions were too good for the Magpies that day and in fact for the rest of the season. Palm Beach-Currumbin, after a first round loss to Surfers Paradise, swept all before them winning 16 games straight to take out the premiership. Queensland football powerbroker of the late twentieth and early twenty first century, Graeme Downie, had transferred from Kedron to play an important role in the Ruck and up forward for the Lions. He was runner up in the Ron Todd Medal in 1971. Gordon Yemm, brother of famous Australian actor Norman was a star for Palm Beach-Currumbin in the 1971 GCAFL Grand Final, when they defeated the Magpies by two goals in a great season finale. Southport and Palm Beach Currumbin’s collective 13 representatives in the Gold Coast team indicated their dominance of the season.  Kelly, Best and Collins were in the best players in a Gold Coast team that soundly defeated the South Queensland Australian Football Association (SQAFA).

Noel Martin, a key player in the 1966 undefeated premiership, left the club briefly to assist at Labrador. In 1971 he initiated the “Broadwater Pennant” which was a trophy that Labrador and Southport were to play for on each occasion they met. When Martin passed away he was buried with a photo of the 1966 premiership team.

Whilst the GCAFL continued to hold sway as the major senior code on the Gold Coast, and the GCJAFL was successfully launched, school football was now dominated by Rugby League. In 1971 there were only 14 Australian Football school teams as opposed to 158 in the rival code.

Other articles/photos:

(Laurie Monson)

1971 Match Results

Date  Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
Round 1 18/04/1971 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 9.9.63 Southport 18.19.129 (Best: Rapkins, Sheehan, Kelly, Gillard, M Collins, Power, D Collins)
(Kelly 5, Rapkins 3, Gillard 3, Alexander 2, O’Rourke 2, D Collins, Sapwell, D Burns)
Round 2 25/04/1971 Owen Park (Labrador Home Game) Labrador 4.4.28 Southport 14.25.109 (Best: Sheehan, M Collins, Blake, D Collins, W Burns, Rapkins, Power, Hillis)
(Sheehan 5, Kelly 2, Rapkins, Power, Blake, Gillard, Alexander, D Collins, Watt)
Round 3 2/05/1971 Isle of Capri Surfers 10.8.68 Southport 15.18.108 (W Burns 5, D Collins 3, Kelly 2, Watt, O’Rourke, Gillard, Sheehan, Sapwell)
Round 4 9/05/1971 Owen Park Southport 28.23.191 Broadbeach 8.10.58 (Best: Rapkins, Sheehan, O’Rourke, Thompson. Kelly)
(Kelly 5, Rapkins 5, Gillard 4, O’Rourke 3, D Collins 3, Alexander 2, Sheehan 2, Thompson, D Burns, W Burns, Blake)
Round 5 16/05/1971 Owen Park Southport 7.12.54 PBC 9.9.63 (Best: Burns, Best, Rapkins, Fankhauser, Brown)
(Kelly 3, Rapkins 3, Blake)
Round 6 23/05/71 Owen Park Southport n/a Coolangatta n/a (Best: Rapkins, Brown, Sheehan, D Collins, O’Loughlin, D Burns)
(O’Loughlin 7, Alexander 3, D Burns 2, D Collins 2, Rapkins 2, Watts, Sheehan, Kelly, Pertzel)
Round 7 30/05/1971 Labrdaor Oval Labrador 12.10.82 Southport 26.11.167 (Best: Brown, Rapkins, Blake, M Collins, Hillis, O’Loughlin)
(O’Loughlin 9, O’Rourke 4, Power 3, Best 2, Sheehan 2, Preston 2, Rapkins, Kelly, Blake, W Burns)
Round 8 6/06/1971 Owen Park Southport 27.24.186 Surfers 10.7.67 (Best: Brown, Rapkins, Sheehan, O’Loughlin, Hillis, W Burns)
(O’Loughlin 10, Rapkins 5, Kelly 4, W Burns 2, O’Rourke 2, Sheehan 2, Gillard, D Burns)
Rep Game 13/06/1971 Gold Coast (Best: Fowler, Johanssen, King, Best, M Collins, Ellis, Symons, Hayes)
(Fowler 5, Johanssen 4, Hayes 4, Rapkins 3, Cooke, Sheehan, McCallum, Symons)
Round 9 20/06/1971 Paradise Point Broadbeach 7.8.50 Southport 18.21.129 (Best: Gillard, Watts, Best, Brown, Alexander, Sheehan)
(O’Loughlin 8, Kelly 2, Best, Watts, Gillard, Power, Pertzell, Larkins, Sheehan)
Round 10 27/06/1971 Salk Oval PBC 14.7.91 Southport 8.13.61 (Best: Hillis, Best, Brown, D Burns, Thompson)
(O’Loughlin 2, Kelly 2, Larkins, Gillard, Carnock, Sheehan)
Round 11 11/07/1971 Owen Park Southport 16.23.119 Coolangatta 13.17.95 (Best: Kelly, Rapkins, Sheehan, Brown, Sapwell, Watts)
(O’Loughlin 4, D Collins 2, Rapkins 2, Kelly 2, Brown 2, Watts, Thompson, Sheehan, Blake)
Round 12 18/07/1971 Owen Park Southport 25.18.168 Labrador 15.16.116 (Best: Browne, O’Loughlin, D Collins, Sapwell, W Burns, Sheehan, Kelly)
(O’Loughlin 9, Kelly 6, D Collins 2, Sheehan 2, Ssapwell, Rapkins, W Burns)
Round 13 25/07/1971 Isle of Capri Surfers 8.9.57 Southport 14.9.93 (Best: Hillis, Sapwell, Sheehan, Best, Watts, Power)
(O’Loughlin 4, Kelly 3, D Burns 2, Power 2, Best, Watt, Sheehan)
Round 14 1/08/1971 Owen Park Southport 32.24.216 Broadbeach 7.6.48 (Best: Sheehan, Power, O’Loughlin, D Burns, Brown, Power)
(O’Loughlin 14, Rapkins 3, Sheehan 3, Alexander 2, Kelly 2, D Collins 2, W Burns 2, Watts 2, Power, D Burns)
Round 15 8/08/1971 Owen Park Southport 12.10.82 PBC 13.20.98 (Best: Cullen, Best, Sapwell, Hillis, rapkins, Sheehan)
(O’Loughlin 4, Sheehan 2, Power 2, D Burns, Alexander, Best, D Collins)
First Semi 15/08/1971 Salk Oval Coolangatta 9.16.60 Surfers 12.18.90
Second Semi 22/08/1971 Salk Oval PBC 12.10.82 Southport 10.8.68 (Best: Hillis, Best, Rapkins, Brown, D Burns, Power, Sapwell)
(Rapkins 3, Best 2, Kelly, O’Loughlin, Alexander, Sapwell, Power)
Prelim 29/08/1971 Salk Oval Southport n/a Surfers n/a (Best: Brown, Kelly, Sapwell, Hillis, Best, D Burns, O’Loughlin)
(O’Loughlin 5, Best 4)
Grand Final 6/09/1971 Salk Oval PBC 9.11.65 Southport 7.9.51 (Best: Brown, Best, Hillis, Sapwell, Sheehan, D Burns, Rapkins) Umpire: Clyde Plant
(Sheehan 3, Sapwell 2, O’Loughlin 2)
Reserve Grade Surfers 9.11.65 Labrador 5.10.40
Under 17 Surfers 4.12.36 Labrador 4.4.28