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Fog, Rain, Gales, Lightening, Swaying Power Lines and a Blackout and Schoolboy Aussie Rules
Regional teams from across Queensland arrived at the Toowoomba Showgrounds on Friday afternoon, excited and looking forward to competing in the 11th state schoolboy championships and playing and watching Good Footy. Open games were to be played under lights, which the boys loved. But it was not so. The welcoming atmosphere of Toowoomba that night was ominous and downright dangerous.
Before the start of the championship, a conference of official representatives was held. After completing all the documents; billeting programs organized and distributed printing, Darling Downs organization officials informed the visiting officials that a bus to transport two teams that is not billeted. However, no drivers were registered or bused to accommodation outside Toowoomba during the championships. The championship announcer asked if any of the visiting officials had a bus license. A teacher trainer stated that he has such a license. He was asked if he would drive the bus because one of the teams was, in fact, his team. So he drove the bus that transported his team, South Brisbane and the Gold Coast team. If he had known what he was in for that first night, he certainly wouldn’t have volunteered.
The opening night of the carnival, held at the Toowoomba Show Grounds, was an intense night. Toowoomba is a very cold place in Queensland at night at the best of winter. Before the first game of the night, the weather turned bad. As night approached, the temperature dropped quickly and it was freezing cold when the siren sounded. But that was not all. Then, a thick fog covered the ground so that the officials could not see the goals from either side while standing in the center wing in the timing room. They only knew when the ball was hit in the middle. How the players managed to keep up with the game was also a miracle.
. The teacher remembers this about these championships.
Toowoomba showed little sympathy for the game, with wintry spells blanketing Shaw Field in thick fog for most of the game. There are many stories of one of the referees rushing to the coaches’ boxes and advising the teacher/coaches to go to the far wing where a player had been injured for a quarter.
The fog was so thick that no one could see the injured player. He was seriously injured. But he has a great story to tell his grandchildren.
Judging a game like this really wasn’t the easiest thing to do. On that first night, the two referees managed to control the game with difficulty until the lights went out. But the weather got worse!
This fog was followed by a severe windstorm that battered the show grounds. The light towers of the exhibition grounds were connected by long lines of electric grid. As the lightning and thunder increased during the storm, the wind became somewhat stronger and stronger. This led to the fact that the wires of electric lights between the posts were carelessly shaking. As soon as the wire touched, sparks started flying. In the end, when they really messed up, they messed up the whole system. The exhibition grounds went into complete darkness. The rest of the games scheduled for that night were postponed because the lighting system could not be repaired until the storm cleared.
The drama did not end there. The driver of the designated bus had to transport himself and the Gold Coast team to his dormitory after the games were abandoned. Driving a bus on a narrow, unfamiliar mountain road through a heavy storm proved a great feat of human endeavour. He had to drive very slowly and carefully, taking responsibility for ensuring the safety of both teams of juniors. Sometimes, visibility was very poor; he had to get off the bus to see if he was on his way! Once he had to negotiate a fallen tree. Every time he mentions the Toowoomba championship, he reminds his audience that his experience that night was one of the most traumatic experiences of his life.
Despite that night and the need for some teams to play two games the next day, the championship continued with great success. The Championship ended on a high note for Darling Downs fans as their team won their first Championship match on the final day of the Championship.
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