Former Queensland Bulls coach Bennett King. Picture: David/Kapernick
Former Queensland Bulls coach Bennett King. Picture: David/Kapernick

A cold beer with . . . footballing King turned cricket winner

Michael Nunn

BENNETT King was on the wing for Valleys in 1984, then a Gold Coast Giant in 1988.

King then took out the ball and aimed at one stump while he coached the Queensland Bulls to a hat-trick of domestic cricket titles and the West Indies at the 2017 World Cup.

I put on Giants jumper and my floppy maroon hat and spoke to King about an extraordinary life in sport.

How did you end up at Valleys from Gympie?

I came down to study in Brisbane and my sister was living at Stafford. So I came down and lived with her and her flat mate was playing for Valleys and I went along played some C Grade and moved through to A Grade.

Valleys in 1984, you're playing finals against a red-hot Dolphins marking John Ribot and a win 18-16. Then a preliminary final against Souths but you lost 14-8. What do you remember?

I remember the blue against Redcliffe. John Ribot came at me. I was young and pretty small and he got me. They were great teams at that time. Redcliffe and Souths were stars with all their Origin and Test players. I got offers from the Dragons and Easts in Sydney. Roy Masters and Arthur Beetson approached me. At the end of that season I went into the QRL and Ross Livermore got me to sign a contract that said I wouldn't leave Brisbane.

I started playing lower grades in 1983 and Ross Strudwick moved me to the bench in 1984 and I remember I made my debut against Wynnum and Neumann Oval.

I had two pretty good coaches at Valleys in Ross Strudwick and Peter McWhirter.

Any trips to Ipswich stand out?

I remember Ken Robertson trying to knock me out and no grass on the field. They were tough trips to Ipswich, always hard out there.

You go to the Gold Coast Giants and play 10 games the first year in 1988. How did that happen?

I went into Bob McCarthy's Army Disposal Shop in the Valley and had a chat to him about coming to the Giants and then signed my contract at the Crest Hotel in the City.

I got an offer from the Broncos the other new boys but went with the Giants and bought a unit at the Tweed and worked at the club.

Bob McCarthy was a great coach for the forwards and we had Larry Cowra and Graham Eadie working with the backs.

You had a serious knee injury and that was supposed to be the end but you came back and played for Valleys again?

I needed a knee reconstruction and we were not too sure what was wrong so I kept playing and then Peter Meyers operated on my knee. I came back to Valleys and then did it again. I was 27 and thought maybe that is it.

Former Australian coach John Buchanan and ex-Queensland coach Bennett King share a joke.
Former Australian coach John Buchanan and ex-Queensland coach Bennett King share a joke.

I take any chance to talk about that Bulls team. You coached them to a hat-trick of Shields in 2000, 2001 and 2002. What a great time?

I was coaching at Norths when I finished in league, and then got a job at the Bulls in 1994 when John Buchanan took over assisting him and then progressed through to head coach when John took the Australian job. The best thing about those three Shield titles was we did it with a new team every year. Hayden, Love, Bichel, Symonds and Kasprowicz were in and out of the national set up so we were constantly changing. We had Stuart Law as captain in all three sides and he was a great constant.



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