NOT HAPPY: Stalwart Goodna league supporters Keiron Butler and Lyle Reed are filthy the IRL grand final will be held on a Saturday night and not Sunday.
NOT HAPPY: Stalwart Goodna league supporters Keiron Butler and Lyle Reed are filthy the IRL grand final will be held on a Saturday night and not Sunday. David Nielsen

It's just not footy! Saturday night grand final is sacrilege

TWO long-time Ipswich rugby league supporters are filthy about the IRL grand final being on a Saturday night and are set to boycott this year's decider.

And they both reckon there are plenty of other supporters who share their view.

Goodna Eagles stalwarts Lyle Reed and Keiron Butler won't see their beloved team play either Brothers or Fassifern in the decider at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday, September 10.

Both insist Sunday afternoon grand finals are part of Ipswich rugby league history and they don't want it messed with.

Butler said he canvassed opinion amongst the crowd last weekend at the footy and the consensus was that Sunday was the preference for the grand final, and that Saturday evening was "a joke".

The understanding of Butler and Reed, and most of those we have spoken to in Ipswich league circles, is that the decision to play on Saturday night is a directive from above by the QRL so that the Gold Coast can play its decider on a Sunday.

The QT asked the QRL about this and we were told that the decision was made by the IRL, a claim backed by IRL chairman Jack Rhea who said the IRL clubs voted on it. But the club officials the QT has spoken to can't recall any vote being taken.

Either way, Butler and Reed won't be going to the Saturday night grand final, where the A-grade decider kicks off at 5pm.

"I've been going to IRL grand finals since 1964 and haven't missed one apart from the year I was in the army," Butler bellowed, while outside North Ipswich Reserve.

"I played on this oval in eight grand finals for different clubs, mainly Goodna.

"Ipswich has held its grand final on Sunday for the last 50 years. It is a disgrace having this on a Saturday night. They've taken the heart and soul out of rugby league in Ipswich. They've taken our history off us.

"Sunday afternoon there is better atmosphere. They get better crowds. It is better for the culture of the city. We've got to preserve our rugby league history. Saturday afternoon grand finals don't work anywhere.

"I know a dozen life members down in Goodna who have said they can stick their grand final up their arse if they have it on a Saturday night.

"I won't be there."

The QT asked Butler: Even though Goodna is in it?

"I don't give a stuff if Jesus Christ is coming on Saturday night," he fired.

"He can play fullback for Goodna if he likes...but we'd still get beaten by the refs."

OK, thanks Keiron. Don't hold back!

PASSION: Large crowds, like this one recently, have been a feature of IRL grand finals at North Ipswich Reserve.
PASSION: Large crowds, like this one recently, have been a feature of IRL grand finals at North Ipswich Reserve. Claudia Baxter

Reed represented Gatton and Goodna in grand finals at North Ipswich Reserve and has been a coach and long-time strapper for the Eagles in his 40-year association with the club.

What does Lyle reckon?

"It is sacrilege," he said.

"I've written a book about the 100-year history of Goodna and districts rugby league and I am appalled what the QRL is doing to the Ipswich rugby league.

"Ipswich has been in the league for over a hundred years, a lot longer than the Gold Coast.

"This is all being done so that the Gold Coast can have their grand final on a Sunday.

"I'm very disappointed. The passion and the support that we will get on a Sunday would see 5000 or 6000 here in Ipswich.

"It's Ipswich's day of glory, and I mean day not night. Our rugby league history speaks for itself. How many internationals have we produced and how would they feel about playing on Saturday night?"

Reed has his niece's wedding on September 10, which was planned in January. He said he wouldn't be going anyway to the grand final even if he was free.

"I'd boycott it. This is one I'm going to miss," he said.



IRL chairman Jack Rhea said the decision to hold the grand final on Saturday night was made for the sake of players so they could celebrate the aftermath without missing work.

"It is simple," he said.

"In the old days blokes played in the grand final on Sunday.

"They'd get on the piss and wouldn't go to work on Monday, and then on Tuesday the boss would pat them on the back and say 'I hope you had a good weekend'.

"Now when they get on the (drink) and don't go to work there are blokes getting the sack from their jobs. Young blokes have got obligations.

"The clubs voted on it. We put it to them about Saturday night. There were those for and against, but in the end everybody agreed and it was carried.

"I am a traditionalist, but things are changing and we've got to go with it.

"What would you rather do? Would you rather run around on a Sunday afternoon in 30 degree heat or on Saturday night when it's 23 degrees?"

Rhea said the IRL was hoping to attract families to the game and that Saturday would be a day more suited to that.

The QT asked Rhea whether the decision had anything to do with the Gold Coast being given a Sunday grand final on the same weekend.

"No," he said.

"We'd made this decision well before then."



Ipswich rugby league historian Jan Christison consulted her historical records as she spoke to the QT, and discovered Ipswich Rugby League grand finals started off being played on Saturdays, before the Sunday date became the norm in the 1950s.

"In 1910 the first grand final was on Saturday, September 24 between Starlights and Belvideres and Starlights won," she said.

"Nobody played football on Sundays then.

"It was still Saturday in 1957 and then it became Sunday in 1958. There could have been one on Saturday since, but it looks like all Sunday since 1958.

"I really don't think it matters too much so long as we get a good crowd on Saturday.

"It is so much different to the early years because people only worked five or five and a half days a week. Now it is 24/7 and there are lots of part-time workers.

"It is hard to accept change, but I don't think the IRL had much choice this year."

What about the idea of a 'Mad Sunday' being the reason given for the change?.

"My husband and I have always said, even with the NRL guys, that what they need to do the day after the game is get up and go to a job and do something responsible, then they wouldn't get into trouble," she said.

"But it wouldn't matter if it was played on Friday night. They would do something on Saturday. If it was played Thursday, they'd do something Friday. That's just the nature of the beast.

"If they win the grand final on Sunday they'll do something Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They'll go for a week."



Brothers club president Mark Hennelly said he agreed with Reed and Butler on the issue of which day the game should be played.

"Our preference is to play on Sunday afternoon," he said.

"Sunday afternoon and grand finals...that is tradition. It is what people expect.

"Our sides are generally well trained, and if you are a side that is reasonably fit you want to play Sunday afternoon in the heat against a side that is not as fit...but playing at night is a bit of an equaliser.

"But the fact of the matter is that it is a QRL or South East Queensland direction. The Gold Coast grand final is on the same weekend. They are on Sunday and we are on Saturday night.

"I'm led to believe that if there's the same timing next year the Gold Coast will be on Saturday night and we'll be on Sunday."



Fassifern Bombers president Kent West also would have preferred a Sunday date.

"I think there was some balls-up and the Gold Coast got in and booked in ahead of us," he said.

"Keiron is probably about my age, and the Sunday game is the traditional game. I'm a traditionalist and prefer Sunday afternoon football but if you have to play Saturday night you have to and that is all there is to it."

Either way, West just wants his Bombers to be in the GF and play against an Eagles outfit he said deserved to be there.

"Goodna is in the grand final and we are just hoping we can get over Brothers and join them," West said.

"It's good to see Goodna in there. They are a good club and mix well with our club and other clubs."



Butler won't be at the grand final but will be supporting Goodna from afar.

"I reckon they will win the grand final under the excellent leadership of Ramon Filipine," he said.

Ramon Filipine has done a great job for the Goodna Eagles.
Ramon Filipine has done a great job for the Goodna Eagles. Inga Williams

"And it is great to see Laurie Campbell there as the coach. "I'll be at home and getting phone messages every 10 minutes and getting descriptions of the game. I'll be sitting back with some Kilkennys and getting the flash scores from the oval."

Reed's wedding is at Logan and he too will be getting updates by phone.

"Goodna are one of the best teams in the competition and it will be a very close contest, although I am wary of Brothers," he said.

"I'm just very sad I won't be here to witness my long-term club Goodna make their mark in the grand final."


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