The Foley Shield has been a Mount Isa sporting institution for half a decade and now plans are afoot to celebrate the event when the 50th anniversary of Mount Isa’s first win arrives next year.
Former Mount Isa resident and sports caller extraordinaire John Moran is organising a reunion dinner in Townsville in 2019.
Mr Moran said Mount Isa played its first Foley Shield game in 1966 though the early years were tough.
“In 1966 we had to go over to Townsville and defeat Townsville (that’s year’s southern zone champion) on a challenge basis,” Mr Moran explained.
“Well we had one game all year so we got beaten in that game, and the same happened in 1967 when we had to beat Innisfail (that year’s northern zone winner).”
Mr Moran said Mount Isa had no chance of winning under those conditions.
“So the then-president Alex Biondi got together with the western league and they forced the hand of North Queensland Rugby League to include Mount Isa as a full time participant playing home and away every week,” he said.
“In 1968 we had the first game in Townsville, the reigning Foley Shield champions and we gave them a towelling 24 to 18.”
The game started Mount Isa’s love affair with the Foley Shield with John Moran broadcasting each game back home on 4LM radio every Sunday.
The breakthrough came in 1969 when Mount Isa won every game bar one.
“We got beaten in the last game but it didn't matter because the following week we were in the final,” he said.
“Again we had to play Townsville at Townsville Sport Reserve on September 21, 1969 and we hung on and won 12 points to nine.”
The win started a period of Mount Isa dominance with nine shields in the next 20 years (1969, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1988.)
But it is the anniversary of that famous first victory that will be marked with a weekend reunion next year of all Mount Isa Foley Shield players from that game and every other era.
“We estimate around 300 players played Foley Shield for Mount Isa from 1966 to the 1990s so it will be a big celebration,” Mr Moran said.
The reunion weekend will be September 21-22 at the Brothers League Club in Townsville with registration details to be announced early next year.
“It’s unfortunate we can’t have it Mount Isa but a lot of people on the coast wouldn’t have been able to make it out,” Mr Moran said.
“But we thought Townsville is where we had the victories and they were the big city cousins we used to love beating every year.”
Though Mount Isa did not take part, the Foley Shield was brought back in 2017.