From ‘little skinny kid’ to Team of Century
RUGBY LEAGUE: Greg Reynolds has mountains of memorabilia from a decorated career that started when he was a “little skinny kid” playing alongside Rod Reddy and Steve Crear in the six-stone Rockhampton rep side.
As he sorts through the prized collection of jerseys, photos, programs and paper cuttings, he brings each piece alive with a vivid retelling of the bruising contests, the memorable wins and the agonising losses.
While Reynolds has played with and against some of the game’s most iconic figures, it’s the mateship that holds pride of place in his vault of memories.
“Wherever you go there’s always someone you know from football,” he said.
“The thing I most treasure is the mateship and all the good people I have met along the way.
“It’s been decades since I played with these guys but they’re still really good mates of mine.”
Friendships might top the list but there are countless achievements as player and coach that would run a close second.
Among them his two-time selection in the Queensland Country team, his inclusion in the CQ Team of the Century, and coaching the Queensland Residents on their unbeaten tour of France and Papua New Guinea.
Reynolds rates his selection in the 1974 Queensland Country team as the highlight of his career.
“That was certainly something special, playing with such a good side,” he said.
“I played with guys like Ian ‘Bunny’ Pearce, Wayne Lindenberg and Tommy Duggan against guys like Wayne Bennett, Des Morris, Tommy Bishop, Bob Beetson and the great John Sattler.”
It was an amazing moment for Reynolds, but the game at Lang Park was not without controversy.
Country looked set to beat their highly fancied Brisbane rivals, something they had not done in years.
Reynolds said his side was one point ahead as the clock ticked agonisingly close to full-time.
“The ref awarded a penalty to Brisbane when it should have gone to us. They kicked the penalty after the bell to win 23-22,” he said.
The fleet-footed centre would make a second appearance for Queensland Country – this time in 1981 against the a Brisbane side coached by Barry Muir that boasted the likes of Wally Lewis, Gene Miles and Mal Meninga.
“They gave us a touch-up that year. They were just far too good. They would have beaten any team in the world, let alone a Queensland Country side,” Reynolds said.
A young Reynolds started his footy career at Park Avenue State School in 1964.
“Everyone back in those days wanted to have a crack at school footy,” he said.
“I was a little skinny kid running around in bare feet, and I could hoot a bit.
“I got to like the game and kept on playing.”
Reynolds had several years away from rugby league as a teenager, choosing to play hockey, but returned to the game as an 18-year-old with a view to playing reserve grade with Norths and just having a bit of fun.
“We went to Moura to play a trial game. I went out there and scored five tries and virtually played first grade from there on in,” he said.
Reynolds played A-grade with Norths from 1972 to 1978 before moving to Blackwater, where he played and coached both Blackwater Centrals and Blackwater Devils.
While success had followed him, local grand final glory eluded Reynolds.
He played in four straight grand finals – Norths in 1977 and 1978 and Blackwater Centrals in 1979 and 1980 – only to be denied victory by four points in each game.
The drought broke in 1981 with Blackwater Centrals, and he would claim a second with the Devils four years later.
While still playing in Blackwater, Reynolds was appointed coach of the CQ Capras in 1986, making the four-hour round trip to Rockhampton for training and games.
He held the position for five years, guiding the team to the state league grand final in 1989. They were beaten by Easts who, just a fortnight earlier, the Capras had beaten in Gladstone.
Reynolds called time on his stellar playing career at age 39 in 1992 but remained involved in the game “that’s in his blood”.
He is a member of the CQ Capras board and skills trainer with Fitzroy/Gracemere.
Reynolds incredible contribution to rugby league was recognised in 2008 when he was named in the CQ Team of the Century.
The team included Reddy, Crear, Ray Laird, PJ Marsh and Matt Sing.
That honour was the icing on the cake for Reynolds.
“That was magnificent. It was a great honour and a great surprise to me when they called my name, I can tell you,” he said.