Alan Mackenzie and Wally Fankhauser commence a wonderful partnership at the helm of the Southport AFC. Injury and inconsistency see Southport miss the finals for their second and last time in their first fifty years.

In an era when the pages of the Gold Coast Bulletin were full of stories of new high rise buildings and topless beaches and bars the 1974 GCAFL season was certainly different. Once in a lifetime floods hit South East Queensland and the rain continued right through the first half of the football season. Most matches up to July were affected by weather with round nine cancelled due to the state of the grounds.

A bizarre season unfolded as Southport AFC were to defeat all other teams but failed to make the finals for the second and last time in their first fifty years. Despite defeating Minor Premiers Palm Beach-Currumbin in the final round, fourth placed Labrador defeated the ultimate Premiers, Surfers Paradise to tip the Magpies out of the finals. Surfers Paradise sat fifth after six rounds and the Magpies defeated them twice during the season. It was that sought of season where any of five sides, at their best, could have won the premiership.

Bob Webb returned from Tasmania ( East Launceston) after a five-year absence to begin a highly successful and extended coaching stint. His previous visit to Gold Coast had built his reputation as a fierce leader and talented mid-field player. Webb brought with him from East Launceston a strong marking defender in Garry Lowe. Ian “Polly” Rankin (Photo), a mobile and elusive medium sized forward also arrived from Geelong. His beautiful left foot kick and great hands were the talk of the league after only a few rounds. Local product Mick Torrens debuted as a 17 year old in round two and was named in the best players.

Don Butterworth (Photo) was to play only one season for the Magpies. It was an excellent season for Butterworth, winning the club Best and Fairest as well as polling well in all media awards. His stocky frame was not that of the normal Full Back but his straight ahead courageous play won him many plaudits and the respect of all opponents. Bob Campbell was another one-year recruit who made his presence felt. Campbell was a burly Ruckman who was nearly as wide as he was tall. His flamboyance and physique attracted plenty of attention from opposition supporters. Campbell had some interesting encounters with new Labrador Ruckman Eddie Bowtell. Bowtell saw the light at the conclusion of the season transferring to the Magpies. This marked a family association with the club that has endured for almost 40 years with Eddie’s son Dean playing in multiple premierships for the Southport Sharks and commencing as club CEO in 2007.

The loss of Cheel, Lynch, Bray and Best severely impacted on the season. Absences due to marriage, family illness, holidays and work to key players such as Rudd, Willadsen, Kelly and Webb meant the season was extremely disjointed. Serious injuries to Haydn Sutherland and star Tasmanian recruit Tony Newport were of no assistance.

The inconsistency of the season was demonstrated by a 110-point defeat at the hands of Coolangatta in round one (Click here to read article) that was followed by convincing victories over Labrador, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. The poor form returned however and by Round 15 the club’s hold on a finals spot was tenuous. An injury ravaged Magpies received a club record mauling of 161 points by Palm Beach-Currumbin to clarify the difference between the team’s best and worst. The Magpies reserve grade performed well throughout the season only to be defeated by Palm Beach-Currumbin by 20 points in the Grand Final.

Direct telecasts of VFL matches on Saturday afternoons further enhanced the profile of the sport. With colour television to arrive soon, the real excitement of the code was brought into the homes of many Queenslanders who had not experienced Australian Football. Maurie Service and 4GG continued their great coverage of local football (Click here for advertisement).

Wally Hortz and Leo Busch, great mates and business partners, who both also worked tirelessly in concert for the Magpies, left in April for Bundaberg. A huge send off at the home of Carl and Phyl Tasker was arranged for their farewell. Their departure marked the beginning of another team of administrators that were to build on the significant foundations laid by the likes of Woods, Magin, Rickhard and Busch. Alan Mackenzie and Wally Fankhauser commenced a partnership in 1974 that was to endure for another twenty-five years and turn the Magpies into Sharks and one of the most powerful clubs in Australia. 1974 was not the most successful year but in was the beginning of an unbelievable era of prolonged success for the club.

Inaugural President Bill Woods continued his dedicated service to the Magpies and Gold Coast football as Southport’s representative on the GCAFL match committee. The Gold Coast Bulletin had this to say about his work in preparing Owen Park for the 1974 finals series.

There are many people who just take semi finals for granted without ever pausing to think of all the hard work that goes into preparing for it. The first person at the ground last Sunday was Southport’s Bill Wood, who started marking out the ground not long after dawn with an army of workers.

Just to prove what a strange season it was, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported that Southport legend Dave Burns was considering taking up umpiring (Click here to read article). In even bigger news a two-page spread broke the story that Geelong great Bill Ryan was considering playing for the Magpies (Click here to read article).

Other articles/photos:

(Bob Webb)

1974 Match Results

Date Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
Round 1 7/04/1974 Owen Park Southport 9.15.69 Coolangatta 27.17.179 (Rankin 4, Jordan 2, Torrerns, Hill, Gleeson)
Round 2 14/04/1974 Labrador Oval Labrador 17.13.115 Southport 20.15.135 (Best: Rankin, Torrens, D Burns, Ottoway, Hill, Butterworth, Kelly)
(Rankin 7, Kelly 6, Jordan 3, Ottoway 3, Green)
Round 3 21/04/1974 Owen Park Southport 11.11.77 Surfers 6.12.48 (Best: Campbell, Webb, Rankin, Willadsen, Butterworth, Hill, Torrens, Ottoway)
(Rankin 4, Willadsen 2, McRedmond, Ottoway, Jordan, Hill, Newport)
Round 4 28/04/1974 Owen Park Southport 14.16.100 Broadbeach 3.9.27 (Best: Webb, Willadsen, Campbell, Browne, Butterworth, Torrens)
(Willadsen 3, McDonald 3, McRedmond 2, Rankin 2, Hill, Torrens, Campbell, Sapwell)
Round 5 5/05/1974 Salk Oval PBC n/a Southport n/a (Palm Beach won by 45 points)
(Best: Hill, Willadsen, Jordan, Torrens, Rankin)
Round 6 12/05/74 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 13.14.92 Southport 6.16.52 (Torrens 3, Rankin, Ottoway, Jones)
Round 7 19/05/1974 Owen Park Southport 10.10.70 Labrador 10.17.77 (Best: Webb, Willarddson, Butterworth, Sapwell, Ottoway, Jones)
Round 8 26/05/1974 Isle of Capri Surfers 9.14.68 Southport 9.5.59 (Best: Butterworth, Webb, Meyer, Leahy, Ottoway, Rudd)
(Rudd 2, Campbell 2, Rankin 2, Jordan, Cobasic, McDonald)
Round 9 2/06/1974 Paradise Point Broadbeach Southport Cancelled
Round 10 9/06/1974 Owen Park Southport 12.17.89 PBC 16.16.112 (Best: Rankin, D Burns, Leahy, Webb, McDonald)
(Rankin 6, Kelly 2, McDonald 2, Burns, Hill)
Round 11 16/06/1974 Owen Park Southport 13.10.88 Coolangatta 19.22.136 (Best: Butterworth, Eastman, Collins, Rankin, Webb, Meyer)
(Eastman 4, Rankin 3, W Burns 2, Sapwell, McRedmond, Jordan, Rudd)
Round 9 (replayed) 23/06/1974 Paradise Point Broadbeach n/a Southport n/a
Round 12 30/06/1974 Labrador Oval Labrador 12.7.89 Southport 13.10.88 (Best: Butterworth, Ottoway, Rankin, Meyer, Eastman, Collins, Jordan)
(Eastman 5, Rankin 4, Jordan, Kelly, McDonald, Torrens)
Round 13 8/07/1974 Owen Park Southport 12.18.90 Surfers 13.11.89 (Best: Eastman, Collins, Willadsen, Rankin, Webb)
(Eastman 3, Richardson 3, Rankin 2, Jordan, Watts, Kelly, Schneider)
Round 14 15/07/1974 Owen Park Southport n/a Broadbeach n/a
Round 15 22/07/1974 Salk Oval PBC 28.21.199 Southport 5.8.38 (Best: Ottoway, Brown, Butterworth, Deutschner, Campbell)
(Ottoway 3, Richardson, McRedmond)
Round 16 29/07/74 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 8.13.61 Southport 10.11.71 (Best: Leahy, Rankin, Jordan, Butterworth, Meyer, Webb)
(Campbell 3, Rankin 2, Torrens, Lowe, Richardson, Kelly, Jordan)
Round 17 5/08/1974 Owen Park Southport 9.8.62 Labrador 11.17.83 (Best: Butterworth, Willadsen, Webb, Lowe, Campbell)
(Campbell 3, Gillet 2, Willadsen 2, Ottoway, Rankin)
Round 18 12/08/1974 Isle of Capri Surfers 14.19.103 Southport 10.7.67 (Best: Ottoway, Webb, Willadsen, Watts, McRedmond)
(McRedmond 3, Webb 2, Rankin 2, Ottoway, Campbell, Willadsen)
Round 19 19/08/1974 Paradise Point Broadbeach 9.8.62 Southport 14.13.97 (Best: Webb, Deutscher, Lowe, Meyer, Browne, Eastman)
(Eastman 4, Rankin 3, Lowe 3, Campbell, Jordan, McRedmond, Kelly)
Round 20 26/08/1974 Owen Park Southport 17.8.110 PBC 13.17.95 (Best: Rankin, Willadsen, Webb, Eastman, Leahy, Brown, Meyer)
(Rankin 5, Willadsen 4, Eastman 4, McRedmond 2, Lowe, Watts)
First Semi Surfers 19.17.131 Labrador 10.9.69
Reserves Surfers 13.13.91 Labrador 13.8.86
Colts PBC 9.7.63 Broadbeach 6.7.43
Second Semi PBC 17.7.109 Coolangatta 13.8.96
Reserves Southport 14.8.92 PBC 11.11.77 (Best: Haselam, Jones, Welling, Simms, McDonald)
(Gillet 3, Jones 3, Graham 2, Kelly 2, Welling, McDonald, Campbell, Alexander)
Colts Surfers 15.8.98 Coolangatta 3.6.24
Prelim Owen Park Coolangatta 14.17.101 Surfers 20.19.139
Reserves PBC 15.14.104 Surfers 11.10.76
Colts Coolangatta 11.9.75 PBC 8.15.63
Grand Final Salk Oval PBC 10.7.67 Surfers 11.18.84
Reserve Grade Southport 11.13.79 PBC 15.9.99 (Best: W  Burns, McDonald, Sutherland, W Reibelt)
(Alexander 2, Jones 2, W Burns 2, Sutherland 2, McDonald, Kelly, Gillet, Welling)
Colts Surfers 12.9.81 Coolangatta 11.4.70