Southport swept all before them dominating the season. Bill Ryan, Zane Taylor and Lindsay Fawns head an unrivalled recruiting coup.

Nine years after Southport AFC and the GCAFL’s first undefeated premiership in 1966 the Magpies were to once again dominate. Southport proved unbeatable as they swept aside all opposition winning 22 games straight. Coolangatta Blues did challenge on a couple of occasions getting within three and four goals respectively during the home and away series. On Grand Final day (Click here to read article) however, the Magpies clicked into gear and held a ten-goal quarter time margin until the final siren.

In the previous season, coach Bob Webb implemented strict training regimes (Click here to read article) and selection policies that at times meant that matches that may have been won were lost. Webb, his coaching team, and the club’s administration were however building a culture of professionalism that was unrivalled not only Gold Coast but also in Queensland Australian Football history to that point.

Existing quality players in Jeff Jordan, Bob Webb (Photo), Barry Rudd (Photo), Garry Lowe (Photo), Ian Rankin (Photo), Wayne Eastman, John Cheel and Ken Ottoway were the foundations of this team and were to all make their mark on this historic season. Local products in club legends Dave Burns and Mick Kelly were thankfully part of this great team. As were other Southport juniors in Peter Willadsen (Photo), Grant Jones, and Mick Torrens.

Southport’s success in attracting good players from QAFL club Western Districts continued with Ruckman/Tall Defender Jon Wojtala breaking into the senior team in the second half of the season. Other recruits included Stewie Miles (Melbourne via Townsville) and Eddie Bowtell (Photo) (Riverina via Labrador). Steve Hunter arrived from Geelong reserves via Coorparoo and another Geelong under 19 product, Randall Witton held down Full Forward and won the League goal kicking award (80 goals). Peter Sapwell spent much of the year in reserve grade but was rewarded with separate hauls in that grade of 13 and 15 goals.

The recession of 1975 meant finding employment for new recruits was problematic in the wildly fluctuating fortunes of the unique Gold Coast economy. These difficulties make the recruitment feats of the 1975 administration even more remarkable. So the arrival of three more players who would not have been out of place in any football team in Australia was a masterstroke that required financial resources, great planning and a solid network within the local community. After a great deal of behind the scenes work Bill Ryan (Photo), Zane Taylor and Lindsay Fawns (Photo) became Magpies in 1975. All were to have stellar seasons.

Lindsay Fawns came to the Magpies from Coburg after spending sometime in Essendon’s reserve grade. He played most of the year in the Centre but somehow also managed to kick over 50 goals. He was one of the last exponents in Queensland of the drop kick, which he used judiciously and to great effect. He was quick, courageous and skilful. A 19-year-old Zane Taylor, fresh from Footscray under 19s, held down the post of Centre Half Back and dominated this position with his trademark straight ahead style. There were much bigger things ahead for Taylor.

Bill Ryan (Photo) had already almost done it all in 167 games with Geelong, playing in their losing Grand Final side of 1967 and representing Victoria in 1971. After retiring from the VFL in 1972 he migrated to Queensland and played for Coorparoo in the QAFL. A senior premiership still eluded him. His impact in Brisbane was significant and his arrival on the Gold Coast was to prove the same. His boost to the morale of the Magpies was immediate (Click here to read article). Initially there were some clearance hurdles to overcome (Click here to read article), but by round 1 he was right to play. His ruckwork, marking and football nous were there for all to see. His leadership and direction of the team were subtle, but those within the Magpie camp new just how valuable he was. He tied for the Ralph Tobiano Award with Lindsay Fawns and won two other media awards for the season. Fawns and Ryan finished equal fourth in the Todd Medal whilst Zane Taylor finished second. Ryan’s ten-goal game against Coolangatta in round 10 (Click here to read article) was a highpoint. Many in Queensland football believe the push for a team within the VFL commenced with a 1975 Gabba victory over Tasmania. Queensland 16.29.125 defeated Tasmania 16.7.103. Ryan captained Queensland, kicked five goals and was named in the best players. He capped his season with best on ground displays in the Second Semi and Grand Final.

Fawns, Taylor and Ryan had taken the Magpies to the position of seeming invincibility. The difference they made in 1975 should not overshadow the great seasons that John Cheel (Photo), Bob Webb and Ian Rankin (amongst others) were to have. Steve Hunter was a quality acquisition.

Gold Coast Australian Football made it to the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin on no fewer than five occasions during 1975. Unfortunately none were for the Southport Magpies fine exploits. Journalists and the League President were threatened, umpires were assaulted and the Gold Coast Australian Football Umpire’s Association (GCAFUA) looked as if it would disband. Broadbeach Cats rise to their first finals was sullied by headlines that called for their expulsion from the League when they refused to stand down a suspended player. Crowd violence at a Coolangatta versus Southport match also gained headlines and the season finished with the Ron Todd Medalist on drug charges.

A new rivalry with Coolangatta was to emerge from the 1975 season. The Blues were led by “love him or hate him” former Mayne State Ruckman Mike Darby. A young Gary Watts was also making his presence felt for the southern club. Coolangatta circa 1975 was a very good team, but the Magpies were just five to ten goals better. The off field violence was condemned by all.  It was amplified by various press articles  (Click here to read article) and cartoons (Click here to view cartoon). It added to an already fierce and sometimes violent on field rivalry (Click here to read article).

Positive publicity was gained in the lead up to the Grand Final when Southport AFC arranged for a cavalcade of its players in open sports cars through the business district. The Magpies were accompanied by the “Coppertone Girls” in a popular public relations exercise.

Then Rugby League journalist Terry Wilson reported during the season of the imminent departure of Gold Coast clubs from the New South Wales centric “Group 18” to form their own competition. Australian Football was riding high but the poor publicity of 1975 and Rugby League’s reorganisation were timely reminders that the battle was never ending.

Southport’s team of 1975 won seven matches by over 100 points and an incredible 15 by more than ten goals. In round 19 the Magpies defeated Preliminary Finalists Broadbeach by 197 points and the reserve grade on the same day kicked 53.25.343. The club’s combined senior and reserve score was 91.41.587. The reserve grade lost only one match for the season and was victorious by 25 goals in the Grand Final.

It was a triumphant season for second year President Alan Mackenzie and the administration of the club. The Magpies collected their first of many club championships in a sign of the club’s true strength. Sadly Secretary Col Munro passed away early in the year and did not see the benefits of his contribution. The playing group of 1975 was clearly the best seen on the Gold Coast. The team was one that paved the way for aspirations beyond the GCAFL.

Other articles/photos:

(1975 Premiership Team)  

(Action shot)

(Action shot)

1975 Match Results

Date Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
Round 1 6/04/1975 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 11.10.76 Southport 29.21.195 (Best: Ryan, Taylor, Rankin)
(Rankin 6, Kelly 5)
Round 2 13/04/75 Owen Park Southport 22.25.157 Labrador 6.17.53 (Best: Ryan, Cheel, Fawns, Taylor, Torrens)
(Kelly 4, Fawns 3, Eastman 3, Webb 3, Cheel 2, Rankin 2, Thompson 2, Jordan, Willadsen, Ryan)
Round 3 20/04/1975 Isle of Capri Surfers  7.2.44 Southport 22.23.155 (Witton 5)
Round 4 27/04/1975 Paradise Point Broadbeach 9.15.69 Southport 16.18.114 (Best: Fawns, Ryan, Rudd, Cheel, Lowe, Ottoway)
(Witton 5, Eastman 3, Fawns 3, Ottoway 2, Ryan, Hyde, Kelly)
Round 5 4/05/1975 Owen Park Southport 24.20.164 PBC 17.13.115 (Best: Ryan, Fawns, Webb, Jordan, Lowe, Cheel, Willadsen)
(Willadsen 5, Ryan 4, Fawns 3, Cheel 3, Webb 2, Witton 2, Deutcher 2, Rankin, Ottoway, Lowe)
Round 6 11/05/1975 Owen Park Southport  22.15.147 Coolangatta 19.11.125 (Best: Cheel, Taylor, Hunter, Deutcher, Rankin, Jones)
(Rankin 6, Whitton 5, Cheel 4, Willadsen 2, Fawns 2, Kelly 2, Webb)
Round 7 18/5/75 Labrador Oval Labrador 13.14.92 Southport 26.21.177 (Best: Taylor, Fawns, Burns, Rankin, Witton, Cheel)
(Witton 9, Willadsen 3, Cheel 3, Fawns 3, Webb 2, Kelly 2, Rankin 2, Bowtell)
Round 8 25/05/1975 Isle of Capri Surfers  11.10.76 Southport 24.27.171 (Best: Jordan, Hunter, Burns, Miles, Rankin, Taylor, Cheel)
(Ryan 5, Rankin 5, Kelly 3, Miles 3, Jordan 2, Jones, Willadsen, Fawns, Cheel, Bowtell, Piesley)
Round 9 1/06/1975 Owen Park Southport 33.26.224 Broadbeach 11.11.77 (Best: Fawns, Webb, Rankin, Jordan, Kelly, Hunter, Ryan, Taylor)
(Kelly 8, Fawns 7, Rankin 6, Miles 4, Jordan 3, Cheel 2, Lowe, Webb, Ryan)
Round 10 8/06/1975 Salk Oval PBC 11.7.73 Southport 34.17.221 (Best: Rankin, Lowe, Webb, Witton, Eastman, Fawns, Hunter, Burns)
(Rankin 12, Whitton 7, Miles 3, Fawns 3, Cheel 2, Eastman 2, Ryan, Lowe, Bowtell, Willadsen)
Round 11 14/06/1975 Len Peak Oval  Coolangatta 18.21.129 Southport 23.8.146 (Best: Webb, Lowe, Bowtell, Burns, Taylor, Cheel)
(Rankin 7, Whitton 5, Cheel 3, Ryan 2 Bowtell, Eastman, Miles, Kelly, Merritt, Burns)
Round 12 29/06/1975 Owen Park Southport 24.16.160 Labrador 3.13.31
Round 13 6/07/1975 Isle of Capri Surfers  3.8.26 Southport 21.16.142 (Best: Ryan, Fawns, Taylor, Hunter, Jordan, Willadsen)
(Witton 6, Willadsen 3, Fawns 3, Eastman 3, Kelly 2, Torrens)
Round 14 13/07/1975 Paradise Point Broadbeach 12.10.72 Southport 23.22.160 (Best: Fawns, Miles, Jordan, Cheel, Torrens, Webb)
(Fawns 5, Willadsen 2, Ryan 2, Kelly 2, Cheel 2, Webb 2, Rankin 2, Eastman 2, Torrens, Jordan, Witton, Burns)
Round 15 20/07/1975 Owen Park Southport 19.25.139 PBC 15.11.101 (Best: Jones, Taylor, Jordan, Cheel, Fawns, Lowe)
(Fawns 6, Kelly 5, Jordan 2, Cheel, Eastman, Willadsen, Wotjala, Webb, Rudd)
Round 16 27/07/1975 Owen Park Southport  24.17.161 Coolangatta 20.15.135 (Best; Ryan, Fawns, Taylor, Torrens, Hunter, Jones, Webb)
(Ryan 10, Witton 6, Fawns 3, Webb 2, Willadsen, Lowe, Ottoway)
Round 17 3/08/75 Labrador Oval Labrador 15.10.100 Southport 25.17.167 (Best: Eastman, Torrens, Ryan, Jones, Cheel, Bowtell)
(Wiitton 5, Eastman 5, Bowtell 3, Jordan 3, Wojtala 2, Fawns 2, Webb, Ryan, Lowe, Piesley)
Round 18 10/08/1975 Isle of Capri Surfers  10.12.72 Southport 16.17.113 (Best: Lowe, W Taylor, Z Taylor, Torrens, Ryan, Webb)
(Witton 4, Willadsen 2, Webb 2, Fawns 2, Jordan, Eastman, W taylor, Kelly, Ryan, Rankin)
Round 19 17/08/1975 Owen Park Southport 38.16.244 Broadbeach 6.11.47 (Best: Fawns, Rudd, Witton, Hunter, Kelly, Webb, Burns)
(Witton 15, Fawns 8, Kelly 5, Willadsen 4, Eastman 2, Wojtala 2, Webb 2)
Round 20 24/08/1975 Salk Oval PBC 11.18.84 Southport 20.17.137 (Best: Ryan, Webb, Torrens, Lowe, Burns)
(Ryan 5, Witton 5, Kelly 2, Rankin 2, Willadsen 2, Fawns, Rudd, Webb, Wotjala)
First Semi 31/08/1975 Broadbeach 11.14.80 PBC 7.11.58
Reserves Surfers 16.14.110 PBC 12.10.82
Colts Southport 11.8.74 PBC 6.16.52 (Best: Edwards, Osman, Hortz, Allard, Byrnes, Whitfield)
(Edwards 5, Fitzpatrick 2, Murton, Anderson, Allard, Whitfield)
Second Semi 7/09/1975 Owen Park Southport 21.17.143 Coolangatta 8.14.62 (Best: Hunter, Ryan, Burns, Webb, Jordan)
(Ryan 6, Jordan 4, Witton 3, Cheel 2, Webb 2, Rankin 2, Willadsen 2)
Reserves Southport 20.21.141 Coolangatta 13.12.90 (Best: Sapwell, Browne, Thrift, Thompson, Piesley, Hyde, Forbes)
(Hyde 6, Sapwell 5, Piesley 3, Thompson 3, Burns, Browne, Alexander, Merrit)
Colts Broadbeach 10.14.74 Surfers 8.11.59
Prelim Final 14/09/1975 Coolangatta 18.18.126 Broadbeach  9.7.61
Reserves Coolangatta 13.17.95 Surfers 10.17.77
Colts Surfers 14.15.99 Southport 5.9.39 (Best: Byrnes, Bevis, Hoskings, Osman, Anderson, Edwards, Child, Fankhauser)
(Fitzpatrick 2, Strong, Child, R Fankhauser)
Grand Final  21/09/1975 Southport 26.16.172 Coolangatta 17.16.118 (Best: Ryan, Hunter, Rankin, Webb, Taylor, Cheel, Jones)
(Rankin 7, Witton 4, Ryan 3, Kelly 3, Cheel 3, Webb 2, Eastman, Willadsen, Fawns, Jordan)
Reserves Southport 32.23.215 Coolangatta 9.19.73 (Best: Thompson, Riebelt, Rodgers, Merritt, Sapwell, Thrift)
(Thompson 8, Sapwell 6, Merritt 5, Piesley 3, Gillet 3, Browne 3, Burns, Lewis)
Colts Broadbeach  18.9.117 Surfers 14.10.94