Grin and Bear it

This week I had a topic chosen for me. Early Tuesday morning I had an enquiry about the Oakey Rugby Fields and so I thought, while I’m digging up information I might as well make it into this weeks post (or is that, my goal for this week is to try and make it to the post). The first annual meeting of the Oakey Rugby Football Club was in 1908, and took place in McLennan’s sample room. Barely five minutes into my search and here’s the first side-track, what and/or where is McLennan’s sample room?

Image: Western Line Hotel c.1905 Source: John Oxley Library
Image: Western Line Hotel c.1905
Source: John Oxley Library


A sample room is: “a room in which samples are displayed; especially: a hotel room in which salesmen display merchandise for the inspection of buyers for retail stores” and so one could assume that McLennan refers to Malcom McLennan who was the owner/licensee of the Western Line Hotel around that time. Interesting enough it was around this time that the second storey was added to the Western Line Hotel (circa 1910).

Now this meeting was in March 1908 but then I stumbled across an article about the “Final general meeting of the Oakey Rugby Football Club” in September 1907. Now I’m no time lord but even I can see that it’s a bit difficult to finish something that hasn’t started yet, so what’s the go?

Well after digging through old articles, the earliest mention of the Oakey football team was in 1906 when Oakey played a local team (I’m assuming Toowoomba) and “after a good game the Oakeyites won by 10 to 9.” But this still doesn’t help solve the riddle of the closing then opening football club.

When you consider that “Football” is such a catchall phrase and can be used to refer to soccer, union, league, or AFL, it’s no wonder that confusion can happen. It turns out that the year of that first meeting (1908) is my biggest clue to solving the riddle. In 1907 Rugby League was first played in Australia and became one of the most popular winter sports in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory by 1910, leading to the decline in Rugby Union. So the first annual meeting of the Oakey Rugby Football Club was (we assume) for the Oakey Rugby League, and the following officers were elected for the 1908 season; Mr. Crofton Kent (President), Mr. J. Lane (Captain), Mr. A. Horstman (Vice-captain) and Mr. R. Kelly (Coach).

So with that minor mystery solved, I’ll bid you farewell until next week and we’ll see what new thing I can dig up from around the region.

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