The Cousin Connection

The Cousin Connection John and Greg do it for ?Dallas? John Richards and Greg Donnelly of Redcliffe are colourful characters. Both enjoy a good laugh and a fair dinkum belly laugh. But when it comes to football, they?ll earnestly tell you their chief desire is etched in black and white. The two cousins are related to the late John ?Dallas? Donnelly ? the larger than life legend from Gunnedah and Wests in Sydney. And after hearing the Sydney Magpies had struck a memorial trophy in honour of the lovable prop both Richards and Donnelly concurred that to go to Wests and win the award would be the ultimate honour. ?Winning that prize would be the event of my career,? said Donnelly the Redcliffe fullback. Richards also said it would be a great honour to win the Dallas award but he stressed sentiment alone would not drive him to Lidcombe Oval. ? It would be tremendous to win that trophy. But before such a move, I?d need to look at the change in it?s right perspective,? he said. ?By that I mean I?d need to look at it financially and career-wise.? The death of John Donnelly has had a devastating effect on the duo. And months after the tragedy, it still pains them to discuss their feelings. ?It?s been hard to take. Johnny (Richards) and I still can?t believe it. We were heading over to play Wynnum when we heard it on the news and it hurt all the way,? said Greg. ?We both played that game especially for him, and beating Wynnum made things seem worthwhile.? Richards explained his grief, ?It was a real tragedy the family are so close, we were really shocked. He was only young but did do a lot of living?. Still, he had a lot to live for,? he lamented. Since leaving Gunnedah at the start of the year, both Donnelly and Richards have enjoyed unforseen success. Donnelly has starred in the Redcliffe A Grade fullback spot while Richards? wing prowess won him a spot in the Brisbane National Panasonic Cup side against Manly last month. And the irrepressible John Donnelly spirit radiated through him a few days before his showdown with the Sydney silvertails. ?My cousin was ?Dallas? Donnelly, so I won?t need much motivation against Manly,? was his stirring proclamation to the press. As it turned out Richards was shaking like a leaf before the big game. ? While all the other players were taking a nap during the day, I stayed up watching television. I was so nervous. ?Before the game players like Wally Fullerton-Smith and Bryan Niebling had a yarn with me to settle me down.? Before leaving the NSW country town, Donnelly encountered some drama of his own through a work accident. While cutting up lamb at the local abattoir, he miscued his timing and sliced off his right index finger. ?It was a bit gory at the time but after some microsurgery, it?s as good as new. I intend to be more careful,? he joked. The only pie Donnelly wants his finger in now is Rugby League! And cousin John?s rating of him shows he holds him in high stead. ?He?s got all the right kind of attributes to make his own kind of a mark in A Grade. He never quits and never gives an inch,? says Richards. Donnelly returned the compliment with a wholehearted appraisal of the big, strong winger. ?He?s not scared to run the ball straight and hard. He wouldn?t think twice about relieving the forwards when it comes to taking the ball up.? The people of Gunnedah, steeped in ?Dallas? Donnelly folklore, would vouch for their skill. Big John would be proud.

This article is from Rugby League Week in 1986