THERE was a special significance attached to Adam Starr carting up the last ruck of the 2006 Queensland Cup.
The towering front-rower went down to the ground, not so much under the weight of Clydesdales defenders but more the backslapping of Dolphin team-mates as they congratulated the 33-year-old warhorse.
Starr played his last game of rugby league at Suncorp Stadium, bring a fitting end to a career that took in the ARL, NRL, France and Redcliffe.
A Dolphins junior, he returned to the club to finish off his career and succeeded with four stars.
"It was the final hit-up and all the guys were saying to pass it to me," Starr said. "They all knew it was on and that the game was over."
Starr now has no regrets about bowing out.
"I'd still like to have a connection to footy and Redcliffe but I will stay away next season," he said.
"I have a three-year-old daughter and another child due in January so it will be all good.''
Along with captain Troy Lindsay, Starr led the way from the front, breaking his usual strong-running game up with a couple of early passes which took the Toowoomba defence by surprise.
"I think the turning point was when we held them out for six sets of tackles in a row in the first half. That seemed to frustrate them,'' he said.
"It was a good hard game in the first half as both sides were into each other. They just made a few more mistakes than we did."
Starr, who has worked at Foster's brewery at Yatala for the past three years, said he would stay away from the game for a while to ensure he had no itchy feet about a premature return.
"That game was one of the highlights of my career and not too bad a way to finish up,'' he said. ""No one expected us to get up and those expectation seemed to come true after the first couple of minutes when they scored."
Starr is the only top-line Dolphin to announce his retirement with Lindsay indicating he would return in 2007.
HE was the forgotten Dolphin.
Shane Perry started the season as Redcliffe's captain and ended it in the Broncos side contesting the NRL finals series.
He missed the Dolphins' Queensland Cup triumph as he was in Sydney for the Broncos' showdown with the Newcastle Knights.
"The ABC in New South Wales doesn't show the Queensland Cup so I kept up to date with the score via text messages," he said.
"I spoke to a few of the guys before the match and wished them all the best."
Perry welcomed the news that red-hot Redcliffe centre Nick Emmett had signed with the Broncos for the 2007 season.
"It's good that Nick will do the entire pre-season with us and then see what happens," he said.
Of course, Perry had his own grand final dreams to contend with. The Broncos forced their way into the season decider with a thumping comeback against the Bulldogs for a showdown against the Melbourne Storm.
THE day before a grand final and everyone was on edge.
Object of the Redcliffe camp's concern was diminutive halfback Marty Turner.
The playmaker was in doubt for the entire week leading up to the Queensland Cup grand final after straining his right hamstring in the preliminary final against Easts Tigers.
"I was 50/50 all week and it was not until the night before the grand final that I was declared fit to play," Turner said.
"I had a slight strain against Easts and I knew I hadn't torn it. I could have stayed on but it was decided for me to come off.
"I had a tough session on the Friday night and I came through it.
"I had a couple of niggle during the big match but it was not too bad."
Turner was one of Redcliffe's best in the upset against Toowoomba, scoring a vital first half try and continually threatening the opposition line with his darting runs.
The former Melbourne Storm signing enjoyed his first senior premiership after winning the Colts title with Norths.
"It was pretty tight at halftime but our defence really aimed up in the second half," he said.
"We forced mistakes from them late in the match once we got into a real arm wrestle.
"A lot of the boys have been there before and our forward pack knows how to win grand final."
And Turner's future? "I'll be with the Dolphins next year as I'm really enjoying it out there."
MAN of the match Michael Roberts is waiting by the phone.
The vastly talented hooker hopes he is the centre of a National Rugby League bid over the coming month.
"There's been no nibbles so far," he said. "Hopefully I will hear something over the next couple of weeks.
"I would definitely take up an offer, even if it meant leaving Brisbane. It's a chance I could not afford to miss."
He said the 2006 Queensland Cup victory was definitely the sweetest of his career.
"As a senior player I took it a lot more personally than I did earlier in my playing days," he said.
"When Toowoomba scored very early I said to the other players that it was the best thing to happen.
"I said that Toowoomba would think it would all happen like it did in the semi two weeks before. We knew that we would step up and that what happened in Toowoomba wouldn't happen again."
Roberts was confident that the Dolphins would field a strong side again in 2007 even if he left. He said the retirement of Adam Starr would leave a gap but the club's Colts were a young but talented group.
He also said Redcliffe never had any problems attracting senior players who wanted to gain attention of NRL clubs or have the opportunity to win a premiership in their closing years.
THE first field goal of Michael Roberts' rugby league career turned out to be a match-breaker.With the Queensland Cup on a knife edge at 12-6 to the Dolphins, hooker Roberts nailed a one-pointer from close range to put his side two scoring opportunities ahead."I thought the field goal was the turning point and not because I kicked it," Roberts said. "We had been down their end for five or six sets and had not broken through. I thought if we did that again and failed we might get a bit down."There was 10 minutes or so to go and the conditions were in our favour if we could get further ahead. There had been only three tries scored so far in the match so I reckoned it was the way to go."Roberts had an explanation for him never landing a field goal before. In past seasons he has had senior players such as Tony Gould and Shane Perry to take the responsibility."I planned the field goal as soon as packed the scrum," he said. "I placed myself at first receiver and it never looked like missing."But that doesn't take it away from our defence, which won us the game. It was just a bit of turning point."This season Roberts, playing in his fifth Queensland Cup grand final, has assumed the role of a senior player with the Dolphins.He was playing in his fifth decider and the victory gave him a three-from-five record."It was funny that after the field goal things started going our way," he said. "They were in front of a kick-off and started dropping the ball a bit."Roberts rated the premiership "a pretty special one". "No one away from the Peninsula gave us a chance," he said."It was very quick out early on and 20 minutes into the game the coach gave me a break. I was starting to blow a bit but was always the plan."The match was a direct contest of their speed and athleticism and our experience and composure. We have a lot of grand final experience and it counts for a lot."I mentioned in my speech about the core group of players and everyone knows who they are. There's Troy Lindsay, Adam Starr, Grant Flugge, Danny Burke and myself, all of whom have played together for five or six years while Shane Perry also would have been there."
EVERGREEN Dolphins prop Troy Lindsay will endeavour to achieve the 300-match landmark.
Already the holder of the most number of first grade appearances with 263 matches up before the semi-final showdown with the Young Guns, Lindsay, 33, shows no signs of tiring.
He has made it known he wants to play on for at least next season and most probably the following season.
By the time he bows out at the end of the 2008 season, the durable front-rower would have reached the magic 300 number ... barring a loss of form or injuries.
But given his outstanding performances this season, climaxing in selection for the Queensland Residents, it is hard to imagine the red and whites without the farmer from Wamuran.
Affectionately known to team-mates and opponents alike as "Cow", Lindsay achieved his record-equalling 261st game at Dolphin Oval on July 30 against Souths-Logan. Centre Peter Leis created the long-standing 261 mark in his Redcliffe reign in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
The following weekend Lindsay owned the record single-handedly after turning out against the Young Guns.
"I'm enjoying my football more than ever, probably because I'm aware each season could be my last," he said.
"To get up there with the likes of Peter, Obsty and Benno is something I'm very proud of ... they were really big names in Brisbane and Queensland football.
"There's a lot of tradition at Redcliffe."
Although he has been part of four Queensland Cup triumphs for the Dolphins, Lindsay said the persona highlight was winning the Brisbane premiership in 1994.
The Dolphins beat Wests 24-18, only their second Brisbane grand final win.
'I was a young bloke in my first year in the top grade and it was 29 years since we had won," he said.
"That was great but I've appreciated all the things that have happened during my time at Redcliffe."
1994 was the year Lindsay came closest to taking up an offer with an NRL club.
"St George coach Brian Smith spoke to me a few times but I decided to stay put," he said.
"I've had a few offers over the years, but that was the closest I came to leaving."
UNASSUMING Dolphins centre Nick Emmett has gone from the depths of despair to the heights of ecstasy.
In the space of a week last month, Emmett tasted the sour bite of a suspension for tripping in a Queensland Cup fixture as well as the delight of a National Rugby League debut for the Broncos.
As coach Anthony Griffin revealed in his Redcliffe Leagues News column last month, Emmett was outed for two matches for tripping Easts skipper Matt Lockyer at Dolphin Oval.
The two-match sentence eventually proved beneficial as the Broncos and the Queensland Rugby League unravelled some paperwork for the 24-year-old Dolphin to run on for the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium against Cronulla.
It was decided the Hervey Bay product had served his time by missing the City-Country fixture (for which he had been selected) and then the Dolphins' loss to Burleigh Bears.
So Emmett found himself on the park against the Sharks for an upset 26-12 victory by an under-manned Brisbane side dubbed the Baby Broncos.
"I was surprised at the speed of the game," Emmett said after his NRL introduction. "It was really quick and a lot more structured than I'm used to.
"I was told that I just had to worry about myself. I wanted to get a feel for the stadium so I went out and warmed up and that got the nerves out of the way."
Emmett said it had been a big surprise to be called up by the Broncos even though he had spent a week plus training with them and realised their stocks were bare due to their State of Origin commitments.
"There was a different build-up for me because I didn't know if I would get a start for Broncos with the suspension," he said.
"I was waiting around all week to hear what had happened. I was supposed to know Tuesday morning so from then on every time the phone rang I thought it was the Broncos ringing to say what had happened."
As it was, he still had time to organise for his girlfriend to come from Sydney for the match and his family from the Gold Coast.
"My brother Tyson is a soldier serving in East Timor and he's a passionate supporter so I sent him a message saying I would be getting a run," he said.
The match went without a hiccup for Emmett, who played for the entire 80 minutes and did not record a single mistake.
"I didn't do anything too spectacular. I just did my job and everyone seemed happy with that," Emmett said.
"Wayne Bennett told me to just play my usual game and the whole team emphasis was on a 85% completion rate and don't make unforced errors. We played a very direct game and worked on their edges. The Sharks only scored two tries and they were from kicks so our defence did its job.
"We just worked to our strengths and that was enough for us to win a match not many people expected us to. A couple of times I thought I might even get a try as I was calling for it close to the line but we went over anyway."
Emmett said winger Scott Minto had proved extremely helpful during the match.
"Scott talked to me all the time and really looked after me," he said. "He was the first one to come over at training and introduce himself and he really looked after me.
"As it was, I had the full week with the side but I didn't train with the starting team until the Saturday morning before the match.
"Shane Perry has been with the Broncos all year and he also looked after me. He trains really hard and is a great organiser on the field for them."
Emmett's contribution was noted in the after-match press conference by Bennett, who also included him as 18th man for the away match against Melbourne Storm two days after Origin III.
``Nick defended great and carried the ball well,'' Bennett said. "The players welcomed him in there as well and he felt a part of it."
Redcliffe team-mates Pat Gardner and Ryan Cullen also were called up for Broncos training.
"If the opportunity comes up there are a few Redcliffe players who could take the step up," Emmett said. "Pat might have been close to playing for the Broncos but he did his knee in the City-Country match. Ryan also went close.
"Wayne Bennett wished me good luck with Redcliffe and said to come along to training anytime I had a free day. He said I was part of the time and who knows what opportunities might come up down the track.
"I want to win the Queensland Cup with Redcliffe and then just go on from there with whatever comes up."
FORMER Redcliffe Dolphin Ben Jones has re-signed with the Canberra Raiders after agreeing to a two-year deal with the NRL surprise packets.
The tough second-rower has been a solid performer for the Raiders so far in 2006 and the club says he is looking to continue his first grade career with the Raiders until at least the end of 2008.
Sidelined for the past month with a thumb injury, Jones was set to make his comeback in the Raiders' home match against Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium.
Although a Queensland Cup premiership player with the Dolphins, Jones is somewhat of a late bloomer, making his NRL debut this year for the Raiders at the age of 25.
TEEN Tim Yee has experienced a meteoric rise to fame.
The 18-year-old, a member of Redcliffe's Development Squad, was in the Dolphins Colts side until called up by Anthony Griffin for the Queensland Cup.
Injuries to outside backs Greg Bourke and Ryan Cullen and Nick Emmett's elevation to the Broncos meant a spot for Yee.
"My first match was from the bench and I played stints at hooker and five-eighth," Yee said. "The next match was the TV one against Burleigh Bears when our rep players were away for the match against Country.
"I played wing then and won the players' player award and have been there since. It's an awesome experience playing in the top team and everyone gives you confidence."
A Redcliffe junior since under sevens, Yee dabbled in martial arts as a youngster but league has always had his attention.
"The most noticeable difference from playing Colts to first grade is the speed of the game," he said. "It moves along so quickly and everyone knows what to do."
The 88-kilogram Yee played centre and five-eighth in Colts this season after breaking into that squad late last season.
He has settled into the winger's role, however five-eighth and centre still remain his favourite positions.
TEENAGE winger Tim Yee has given the Redcliffe Dolphins Development Squad another burst of credibility.
It's not that the 16-year-old format needs much introduction to rugby league fans after producing a string of State of Origin and Australian players over the years.
In one year alone, squad graduates Petero Civoniceva, Brent Tate, Michael Crocker and Dane Carlaw turned out for the Maroons as well as donning national jerseys.
A dig through match reports revealed that development squad members who played first grade at the same time include Brent Tate (1999), Trent Clayton (1998), Petero Civoniceva (1994), Charles Vis (2003) and Val Fa'amoe (2003) so Yee is in illustrious company.
Squad co-ordinator Brian O'Brien has been there since day one and rates this year's squad as talented as any the club has boasted.
"This is a pretty talented squad and I would not be surprised if quite a few don't go on to attain the very highest honours," he said. "This squad is equal to the best we've had."
Electrifying winger Yee, a second year squad member, is only 17 and already has notched a handful of Queensland Cup appearances for the Dolphins as well as a players' player of the match award.
Red-haired centre Ben Jones, another squad member, has caught the eye of the Sydney Roosters with the club flying the 16-year-old to Sydney for the statewide Jersey Flegg competition.
"Ben has impressed the Roosters as he was man of the match twice in four weeks," O'Brien said. "I would not be surprised if the Roosters signed Ben as they have a high opinion of him.
"Ben not only made the Queensland Schoolboys side but also the state under 17s side with David Hala and Joel Romelo with the trio playing the curtain-raiser to Origin II.
"We ask our squad members to sign a BRL contract, but under no circumstances would we prevent a players from moving on to a higher level in the code."
This season's 20-strong development squad, made up of teens aged from 16 to 18 and sponsored for the second year by Classic Sportswear, undergoes skills training once a month as well as dinner every two months to which selected speakers are invited.
Topics can include financial advice, diet and public speaking. The squad is divided into three teams which compete against each other for an end-of-season trophy.
Junior development officer Grant Cleal takes the on-field training sessions with help from Dolphins premiership players Barry Denduck and Ian Graham and junior coach Steve Peoples.
The squad plays two matches against the equivalent Burleigh Bears squad as well as fielding a side in the annual country invitation trial at Dolphin Oval.
In another boost for the squad, Southern Cross student Hala has been named in the Australian Schoolboys side to tour Great Britain at the end of this season. A 2005 squad member, Redcliffe High's Luke Capewell, also made the touring party.