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Only Redcliffe could have stood the pace and been in there fighting at the end against the mighty Valley Diehards in Sunday?s Grand Final. At a rough estimate I think five in every six of the 42,000 fans at Lang Park wanted to see Redcliffe win. They had nothing against Valleys but it?s the old Australian character to yell for the underdog and Redcliffe certainly were the underdogs of the match.
But when Valleys? outstanding forward John McCabe speared over for a great try to lock up a Valleys victory only six minutes from full-time the crowd nodded its head and put its hands together in recognition of a true champion team ? Valleys. But the Dolphins were not disgraced. At stages there in the second half they looked like getting on top after holding Valleys to a 7 all score after 53 minutes. But when the moment of truth came and Redcliffe were poised to forge ahead it was then Valleys pulled out that little bit extra to just keep their noses in front.
There was only one difference between the two teams ? big match experience and Valleys had it. It told when the pressure was on, it told when both teams had slowed almost to a trot after brilliant attack and defence by both sides in the first torrid 2 minutes of the second half. Valleys have had just so much experience in Grand Finals it must make other clubs shudder. But the remarkable thing about Valleys and all that experience is the comparative youth of the side. Take a player like Jeff Gill, the brilliant lock who was one of Valleys best in the 15 ?7 Grand Final win. Gill a veteran of five Grand Finals three of those winning Grand Finals 1970,1971 and 1973. Poor old Jeff is a veteran of five grand finals at the ripe old age 24. It doesn?t stop there, Big John McCabe, a veteran of 22 years, has played in the last four Grand Finals ? three of them premiership victories. Hooker Hugh O?Doherty has the same record at 25 years of age. Captain and five-eighth Marty Scanlan an old man at 28, has played six Grand Finals for three victories. The whole team is an incredible mixture of youth and experience. The question is not will Valleys make the Grand Final but who will make it with them.
On yesterdays performance Redcliffe is set to give Premiership another big shake next season and what will happen if they capture Artie Beetson is anyone?s guess. They were very unlucky to lose Ron Raper in the second half but if Ron had never gone for a high tackle he would never had broken his wrist. Valleys had the lead at that stage 10 ? 7 and were just starting to gain a toehold on the premiership so I don?t think it would have made a great deal of difference to the outcome.
Redcliffe were the success story of the 1973 season they came from second last in 1972 to the Grand Final in 1973 and that?s more than a small step forward in a competition that?s been as tough as the BRL has been this season. It?s been a credit to all concerned, not the least coach Barry Muir. But there was also some astute buying of players by the progressive Redcliffe committee, headed by President Dick "Tosser" Turner. They went after and got players like Ron Raper, Brian Winney, Robert Orchard and others to blend in with their local stars. The best for Redcliffe were Ron Raper, Peter Leis, Ian Thinee, Tony Obst, Bevan Bleakley, Rob Orchard and Brian Winney.
Valleys 15 ( Paul Gayler, John McCabe, Hugh O?Doherty tries; John Crilly2,Allan Mills 1 goal ) Redcliffe 7 ( Peter Leis try; Ron Raper 2 goals)
Referee Bernie Pramberg
The teams that day were:
Redcliffe Valleys Tony Obst Alan Mills Merv Cook Paul Gayler Peter Leis Bob Beatson Ron Carige Gerry Fitzpatrick Vic Poudziunas G.Jones Bob Cameron Marty Scanlan Brian Winney Ross Strudwick Ian Thinee Jeff Gill Ron Raper Mick Rathbourne Rod Halley John Crilly Bevan Bleakley John McCabe Bob Wilson Hugh O'Doherty Robert Orchard Russell Hughes