CQ – A Changing Market

The CQ NRL Bid staff travel all over Central Queensland regularly, and often beyond what we would categorise as the normal boundaries of CQ. When we present the benefits and merits of the CQ NRL Bid and then ask for questions the most common questions almost always concern the location, tactics, and chances of success or otherwise of the “opposition” compared to our Bid. This “opposition” refers to other bidding regions and cities. E.g. NSW Central Coast (Gosford), Perth, Brisbane Bombers,PNG, Ipswich, etc. I do consider these regions in our tactics but I do not malign them or their motives because they are NOT the real opposition. The real opposition is the AFL and I am not being derogatory or dismissive of the AFL. In fact I envy many of their achievements and ambitions to dominate the Australian sporting landscape. The AFL is resourced and committed and their stated tactic is to target the “heartlands” of Rugby League. This policy is ongoing and is currently being implemented very openly in the western suburbs of Sydney and at the Gold Coast. Many observers do not realise that other more strategic and longer term attacks are also very current.

PJ Marsh is a good friend, a wonderful former player and a genuine good man. He originates from Central Queensland; he has resettled here in his post NRL life and developed a career in the vast coal mining industry of CQ. PJ provides his time and energies to the CQ NRL Bid in many capacities and is a very valued mentor in the development and scholarship programs of the Bid. His passion for Rugby League and for his community is obvious and enduring.

PJ called me last week from his home in Middlemount, where he works and lives. He is always so positive and happy so I always enjoy our football discussions, whether these discussions involve talking about a promising young player in the Central Highlands or just talking generally about the upcoming NRL or Q Cup seasons. Last week PJ was very upset and I was immediately concerned.

He was agitated and kept asking me about the Bid’s progress. He said a few times “mate, we have to get our own NRL club in CQ”. The reason that PJ was not his normal happy and enthusiastic self was the AFL. Their development staff were in Middlemount and had just signed PJ’s son up to their respected “AFL Auskick” program. In fact in the last few days, PJ was asked to go to one of the program’s sessions, as a parent, and help out – of course PJ obliged. PJ and his son went to the local AFL ground in Middlemount – that’s right an AFL ground right in the very middle of our “heartland”.

Has the Rugby League community lost PJ’s son? I don’t know and neither does PJ but as PJ said “I am going to support my son all the way, so if he decides to do AFL, I’ll back him all the way”.

CQ is now an avid Rugby League market but it is changing quickly and some of these changes are significant.

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