Zane Taylor lays claim to the title of best footballer in Queensland as the Magpies just fail to take their fourth premiership in succession.

The 1978 season saw Zane Taylor begin to lay claim to the title of the best footballer in Queensland of the late seventies. With Lindsay Fawns and Bill Ryan paving the way for Gold Coast footballers to play for Queensland, Taylor got his chance at representing the Maroons with distinction in matches against the Victorian Football Association (VFA) and Port Melbourne. To do so he needed to first play on permit for QAFL club Windsor Zillmere. So impressive was his performances north of the Logan River, Windsor Zillmere selected him in their losing Grand Final side despite Taylor playing only three permit matches during the season. His big match temperament was on display in the Gold Coast’s representative victory over North Queensland. After mid season representative duties that also entailed the permit matches in Brisbane, Taylor almost single handedly pulled the Magpies out of a terrible mid season slump. No less than seven best on ground performances in a row in the second half of the season saw him win the GCAFL’s Ralph Tobiano Award and two other media prizes. Not surprisingly Taylor took out his third Magpie Best and Fairest in a row. More importantly his performance lifted the ailing Magpies to a tilt at a fourth straight premiership.

It was a rocky start to the season with early attempts at poaching by other coast clubs (Click here to read article). The Lismore Kangaroos had rejoined the league after a seven year absence and the competition for recruits was fierce. Premiership hero Darryl Bakes returned to Victoria and was joined by Edwards, Boyle and Solomon. Club stalwart Jeff Jordan was also missing as was Graham Trevena. Injury and work commitments saw Bill Ryan absent until he made a miracle return late in the year. The most heart felt loss was the departure of inaugural club legend Dave Burns to the role of Captain Coach of Labrador. In a fitting tribute the Southport players gave Burns a guard of honour as he ran onto the ground in Labrador colours against the black and whites in round two.

Some of the off-season losses were compensated for by the return of Andy Stewart and Grant Jones. Rick White, Michael Davidson and Ron Eastbourne all made serviceable contributions as new recruits. Graham Hopkins, a former QAFL player with Coorparoo, was a revelation in the later half of the year. Nigel Webb a 19-year-old Tasmanian won the Best First Year Player Award and was a key player in the Magpies Colt’s premiership that season.

Southport junior Phil Hortz (son of former committeeman Wally) completed a stunning debut season on a Half Back Flank, finishing runner up to Zane Taylor in the Best and Fairiest. Ken Clark kicked 100 goals for the second year in a row as a small forward.

The loss of the Down Under Bar as a home for the club saw some fractures and disharmony during the season. Some of this was reflected in poor mid-season on field performances. Steps were put in place however to secure the Magpies own true home – a clubhouse at Owen Park. The building of the new clubrooms had commenced and would be ready for the 1979 season.

A violent mid season match against Surfers Paradise (Click here to read article) left Ross Couch with a badly broken nose and a four- week suspension. Surfer’s hard man Dale Templar received six-weeks for his part in the fracas.

With only five wins from the first 11 rounds the pundits were writing off the Magpies. Injury and absences had ravaged the Magpie machine. Webb, Cheel, Wotjala, Ryan, Short and others all had interrupted seasons. Momentum started to build from round 15 however as players returned and some consistency was achieved. Still the Magpies went into the Preliminary Final against Surfers Paradise as pronounced underdogs. Three home and away losses against a hungry Demon squad did not bode well. And when Zane Taylor limped from the ground before half time with Surfers Paradise well in control the season looked over. Six goals down at three quarter time, the club’s true spirit came to the fore in one of its greatest victories (Click here to read article). Bill Ryan was the hero and TRUE BOOT had this to say about his performance in the Gold Coast Bulletin:

Bill Ryan, former VFL great, QAFL star and Southport big gun in their rise to dominance since 1975 demonstrated his greatness in Sunday’s preliminary final. Ryan’s occasional appearances with the Magpies this season, caused by increasing business commitments, prompted many footy fans, including the writer, to believe that the big fellow’s football days were numbered. Perhaps they are, but who will forget the “Big Yowie’s” game for the Magpies against Surfers. Certainly every spectator who was privileged to be at Owen Park on Sunday was treated to a phenomenal performance by one of football’s greatest. His marking, ruck work and handball was all class and his amazing final quarter provided the inspiration that the players needed to come from an impossible position to win.

The next challenge was Coolangatta who had only one loss for the season and three convincing home and away victories over the Magpies. Taylor went into the Grand Final under a huge injury cloud (Click here to read article). In true champion fashion he came out of it with a best on ground display. Coolangatta were heralded unbeatable pre match but the Magpies headed them in the last quarter and a fourth flag in succession beckoned. Coolangatta steadied however and took out a well-deserved inaugural premiership (Click here to read article). The Magpie’s premiership run had ended but not without an amazing effort.

Some solace was gained when the Barry Lowe coached Colts took out the premiership (Click here to read article).

Other articles/photos:

(Round 1 action)

(Jon Wotjala)

(Andy Child 1)

(Andy Child 2)

(Milton Davis)

(Ken Clark)

(Barry Lowe)

(Eddie Bowtell)

1978 Match Results

Date Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
Round 1 2/04/1978 Owen Park Southport 8.7.55 Surfers 10.8.68 (Best: Stewart, Short, Webb, Hortz, Taylor, Jones)
(Short 2, Davis 2, Stewart, Wotjala, Rice, Lowe)
Round 2 9/04/78 Labrador Oval Labrador 13.14.92 Southport 28.27.195 (Best: Taylor, Clark, Stewart, Wotjala, Davis, Jones, Morris)
(Wotjala 7, Davis 6, Clark 6, Short 4, Child 2, Morris 2, Simpson)
Round 3 16/04/1978 Paradise Point Broadbeach 14.15.99 Southport 25.14.164 (Clark 11, Davis 6)
Round 4 23/04/1978 Owen Park Southport 44.35.299 Lismore 1.6.12 (Best: Hortz, Stewart, Short, Willadsen, Clark, Styles)
(Clark 13, Davis 10, Short 9, Simpson 3, Stewart 3, Styles 2, N Webb, Watts, Wells, Willadsen)
Round 5 31/04/78 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 15.17.107 Southport 12.21.93 (Best: Lowe, Styles, Simpson, Hortz, Davis, Willadsen, Stewart)
(Davis 4, Short 2, Lowe 2, Simpson, Styles, Clark, Stewart)
Round 7 14/05/78 Owen Park Southport 9.12.66 PBC 13.16.94 (Best: Lowe, Jones, Morris, Short, Willadsen, Simpson, Taylor)
(Davis 3, Short 2, Clark 2, Child, Morris)
Round 8 21/05/1978 Isle of Capri Surfers 15.16.106 Southport 12.13.85 (Best: Lowe, Taylor, Clark, Wotjala, Styles, Webb)
(Clark 5, Wotjala 2, Davis 2, Simpson, Morris, Taylor)
Round 9 28/05/1978 Owen Park Southport 20.16.136 Labrador 15.21.111 (Best: Willadsen, Clark, Hortz, Piesley, Morris,Webb, Lowe)
(Clark 6, Willadsen 3, Styles 3, Davis 2, Wotjala 2, Webb, Forbes, Morris, Miles)
Round 10 5/06/1978 Paradise Point Broadbeach 16.8.104 Southport 13.13.91 (Best: Hortz, Clark, Simpson, Taylor, Ryan, Willadsen)
(Clark 5, Wotjala 2, Taylor 2, Davis 2, Morris, Forbes)
Round 11 11/06/1978 Lismore Lismore 4.10.34 Southport 18.25.133 (Best: Hortz, Clark, Willadsen, Eastbourne, Forbes, Lowe)
(Clark 10, Davis 4, Fitzpatrick 3, Wells)
Round 12 2/07/1978 Owen Park Southport 12.14.88 Coolangatta 20.20.140 (Best: Taylor, Cheel, Bowtell, Hortz, Davidson, White, Morris)
(Davis 3, White 2, Gualiteri 2, Davidson 2, Clark, Quarrell, Morris)
Round 13 9/07/1978 Salk Oval PBC 11.10.76 Southport 20.17.137 (Best: Taylor, Eastbourne, White, Davidson, Willadsen, N Webb, Hortz)
(Clark 5, Davidson 5, Davis 4, R Webb 2, Styles, Ryan, Taylor, Morris)
Round 14 16/07/1978 Owen Park Southport 13.12.90 Surfers 17.14.116 (Best: Taylor, Willadsen, Simpson, Cheel, Couch, Bowtell, Ryan)
(Davidson 3, White 2, Clark 2, Davis, Simpson, Taylor, Willadsen, Bowtell, Morris)
Round 15 23/07/1978 Labrador Oval Labrador 17.13.115 Southport 30.25.205 (Best: Taylor, Hopkins, Hortz, Bowtell, Clark, Simpson, R Webb)
(Clark 8, Bowtell 4, Short 4, Hopkins 4, Davidson 3, R Webb 2, Simpson 2, Cheel 2, Gualiteri)
Round 16 30/07/1978 Paradise Point Broadbeach 10.8.68 Southport 27.28.190 (Best: Taylor, Davidson, Simpson, Short, Bowtell, Cheel, Ryan)
(Ryan 6, Clark 6, Simpson 3, White 2, Cheel 2, Davis 2, Taylor 2, Short 2, davidson, Whitfield)
Round 17 6/08/1978 Owen Park Southport 27.26.188 Lismore 13.9.87 (Best: Hortz, Taylor, Hopkins, Davis, N Webb, White, Jones)
(Davis 8, Clark 5, Cheel 4, Hopkins 4, White 3, Taylor 2, Simpson)
Round 19 20/08/1978 Len Peak Oval Coolangatta 18.22.130 Southport 17.8.110 (Best: Ryan, Davidson, Short, Taylor, Lowe)
Round 20 27/08/1978 Owen Park Southport 23.26.164 PBC 7.11.53 (Best: Taylor, Clark, Short, Hortz, Couch, Davidson)
(Clark 8, Wotjala 3, Davidson 3, Short 2, Ryan 2, R Webb, White, Simpson, Cheel, Taylor)
First Semi 3/09/1978 Southport 11.15.117 Broadbeach 11.10.76
Second Semi 10/09/1978 Coolangatta 25.12.162 Surfers 14.22.106
Reserves Coolangatta 20.9.129 Surfers 17.17.119
Colts Labrador 7.8.50 Southport 14.18.102 (Best: N Webb, Child, Wells, Ambrose, Phillipe, Allen, Teveluwe)
(Ambrose 4, Single 3, Teveluwe 3, Child 2, Wockner, Allen)
Prelim Final 17/09/1978 Surfers 14.23.107 Southport 15.18.108 (Best: Ryan, Short, Hortz, Morris, Cheel, R Webb, Lowe)
(Cheel 3, Davis 3, Clark 2, Short 2, Ryan 2, White, Morris, Hopkins)
Grand Final 24/09/1978 Coolangatta 14.12.96 Southport 9.19.73 (Best: Taylor, Simpson, Short, Ryan, Willadsen, Clark, Hortz)
(Ryan 3, Clark 3, Short, Wotjala, White)
Reserves Coolangatta 10.11.71 Broadbeach 12.3.75
Colts Southport 11.16.82 Labrador 7.13.55 (Best: Allen, Menyweather, Jones, Child, Teveluwe, Beitz, Wells)
(Jones 4, Ambrose 2, Wockner 2, Single, Menyweather, Wells)