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Footy-mad taroom man backs CQ team

LIKE most Taroom residents Rob Phipps is a rugby league fanatic.

The 71-year-old watches every game of NRL every weekend and when asked if he would drive the 301km to Rockhampton to watch a CQ team compete in the NRL, his response is unequivocal.

“I'd bloody well go and see it,” he said.

“Bloody oath I would.”

Rob has lived in Taroom most of his life.

In fact, when he was 15 he made his first-grade debut for the Taroom Rugby League Club on the wing.

“I bloody near got killed,” he recalls.

Rob was working as a ringer at the time for the late Jack Sands on a cattle property just outside of Taroom.

“He (Jack) told me to bloody well get some brains.”

And with that, Rob's first-grade career was over after two games.

Four or five years later Rob started playing again -“the greatest game of all” was in his veins.

Today, almost 50 years later, nothing has changed.

“I watch every footy game,” he said.

“I bought pay TV so I could.”

Rob, like many Taroom residents, is pinning his hopes on a CQ team winning entry into the NRL by 2013.

Rob's well aware of the CQ NRL bid and says it's just the tonic his hometown needs after the Taroom/Wandoan Rugby League Club, known as “The Battlers”, folded just over a decade ago.

“If there's a better place (to live) I haven't found it,” Rob says about his lifetime association with the area.

“We've got everything here but a rugby league side.”

“I'm a Queensland team supporter,” he declares.

“I back them all (Broncos, Cowboys and Titans).”

And he wouldn't hesitate in adopting the CQ team as his own.

It's not hard to find other league-mad blokes in Taroom - just walk into the local watering hole, The Leichhardt Hotel-Motel.

Pinned to the noticeboard as you enter the main bar are about six petitions to NRL boss David Gallop supporting the CQ team bid.

The message is clear - more than 200 signatories are from Taroom.

The pub's footy tipping competition is being led (subject to change by the time this goes to print) by painter Rob Adcock.

“It would be good to win it, not just for the $1200 first prize but for the bragging rights,” Rob admits.

But the 50 other participants, including Boof, Frog, Fur, Wal and Jings, won't give in without a fight.

Just how much this town misses having a rugby league club is probably best summed up by Wayne Merritt, who himself played first grade for Brisbane Easts in the early 80s under coach John Lang who went on to guide Penrith to an NRL premiership in 2003.

“It's bit like country racing - it's a tradition and great culture.

“You don't have it, you do miss it.”


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