Pioneers celebrate 40 years
WHEN a club reaches its 40th anniversary there is every reason to celebrate and Frenchville Pioneers are planning to do that in style.
Club president Michael Jones and the long-serving Shane Whitney are convinced next month's celebration is going to be huge.
“It will bring old and new together to celebrate our history,” Whitney forecast.
“We'll concentrate on what the club has done for rugby in Rockhampton.”
Whitney concedes that there were times when Frenchville was not one of the area's high-flyers.
“We've had our ups and downs like any club,” he said.
The one thing that Frenchville is able to boast is a number of players who wore both the green of Frenchville and that of the Wallabies at some stage during their careers.
One of the more colourful is front-rower Stan Pilecki.
In his book Pilecki, known as “the Pole” credits his association with the Frenchville club for resurrecting his playing career.
Pilecki had already played plenty of representative football but the passion had waned and so he decided to move to Rockhampton and play “Country Football”.
“It was great, no training, and you always had a few drinks with the opposition afterwards, not like in Brisbane, where all you wanted to do was beat the s..t out of them,” Pilecki wrote in his colourful way.
Jones said Pilecki will be one of the guests for the main anniversary function and will undoubtedly recall, in his very personal way, his times in Rockhampton and the highlights of his footballing career.
Whitney said Pilecki, who was a member of Frenchville's premiership winning team of 1974, was just one of the many top players who wore the club colours in some stage.
In recent times Rod Davies was a junior and before him Brendan Moon went on to play 35 tests and represent Queensland over 100 times.
There has also been a wealth of Queensland Country stars with Todd Lynch and Andrew Walker among the most decorated.
“We've had some good talent come through,” Whitney said.
The year 1992 was the one that sticks in Whitney's mind as the club's “finest hour”.
“It was the last time a Rockhampton club has won three grand finals on the one day,” he said
Compared to Whitney, Jones is a newcomer but nevertheless he is proud of the shape the club is taking, saying it is going through a rebuilding phase.
To get the club moving again a number of people have put in a big effort and he said they include Gavin Hoffmann and James Elliot who has encouraged many talented youngsters into the sport and, in turn, the Frenchville club.
Both Whitney and Jones believe Frenchville has also been strengthened by the solidarity shown by its life members who have been very supportive.
“They come back and put something in when its needed,” Jones said.
The full line-up for the 40th anniversary celebration has yet to be determined but Jones hints that another former Wallaby could be there on the night as one of a list of guest speakers.
The celebrations begin on Friday, June 12, when Frenchville will play Colts at Ryan Park.
On the Saturday there will be an “Old Boys” game and Whitney said he already had his boots polished for that one.
The formal part of the weekend is the “black tie” function at the Frenchville club with people from all over Queensland and other areas of Australia pledging their support.
As a wind down, the Sunday will be devoted to a leisurely round of golf.
Jones said about 250 were expected to attend.