|Full name||South Queensland Crushers|
Rugby League Football Club
|Colours||Aztec Gold, Navy Blue & Red|
|Founded||30 November 1992 (first season 1995)|
|Competition||Australian Rugby League|
|Wooden spoons||2 (1996, 1997 (ARL))|
The South Queensland Crushers were an Australian rugby league football club based in Brisbane, Queensland. In 1992 it was decided that the team would be admitted into the New South Wales Rugby League competition, along with three other teams, as part of the League's expansion plans for professional rugby league in Australia. The competition was re-branded the Australia Rugby League competition in 1995, which was the Crushers' first season.
The Crushers, whose whole existence was against the backdrop of the Super League war, were an unsuccessful club. They had to compete for support with the other Brisbane-based club, the Brisbane Broncos, who were already well-established. The Crushers only competed in the three seasons of the Australian Rugby League's premiership, winning the wooden spoon twice for being last in the competition. Despite the wealth of star players the Crushers managed to attract, they were financially unsustainable and competitively unsuccessful, which ultimately led to their demise at the end of 1997.
The New South Wales Rugby League competition (NSWRL) had begun in 1908 as a rugby league competition in the Sydney region of Australia. For the next eighty years, the league would only feature clubs in the New South Wales region. But in 1988, the NSWRL admitted two Queensland based teams, one from Brisbane and the other from Gold Coast. The Brisbane club was the first NSWRL club to be privately owned and by 1992 had won their first premiership. On 30 November 1992, the NSWRL formally admitted a second Brisbane-based team into the competition, along with three others, from Townsville, Perth and New Zealand. The newly established Brisbane team was to be known as the South Queensland Crushers, and would enter the 1995 NSWRL competition, which had been renamed the Australian Rugby League competition (ARL).
In September 1993, the Crushers chose Bill Gardner as the coach for the team, but after a poor off-season, he was replaced by former Australian international Bob Lindner. Darryl van der Velde, an experienced rugby league coach from England, was the club's inaugural chief executive. The club had chosen Lang Park as their home ground which had been abandoned by the Brisbane Broncos in favour of QE II Stadium in 1992.
The Crushers were able to sign Queensland representative players Trevor Gillmeister, Mark Hohn and Dale Shearer, as well as three rugby union players including Garrick Morgan who had represented Australia in the fifteen-man code. The Crushers had attempted to lure former Australian international captain Mal Meninga from retirement for one more season, but failed. By the beginning of the 1995 competition, the Crushers had also signed North Sydney forward Mario Fenech, who the club named as their captain. The club's major sponsor was XXXX with Qantas announced as the sleeve sponsor.
The Crushers' first match was against the previous season's premiers, Canberra which they lost along with their next three before winning their first match 16-12 against North Sydney in Round five. Trevor Gillmeister had the honour of scoring the Crusher's first ever try. An injury to Dale Shearer and the difficulties for Garrick Morgan to adapt to rugby league saw the Crushers fail to utilise much of its attacking potential. Captain Fenech was dropped to the interchange bench and lost the captaincy which was passed on to Gillmeister. The season’s end was dampened after coach Lindner and Fenech feuded, resulting in Fenech being released from the final year of his contract.
In the 1995 season, the club had only won six and drew another in the twenty-two games played. In 1995, News Limited, a mass media company, began deliberating a rival rugby league competition, the Super League, and with the rival Broncos a key part of the plans for Super League, the Crushers remained loyal to the ARL competition. The Crushers believed that they would survive and be able to compete on their own. The ARL supported this despite the disappointing results of their first season because of the high home ground crowds, with supporters averaging over 21,000 a season.
|1||South Queensland Crushers||6–24||Canberra Raiders||11 March 1995||Lang Park||21,102|
|2||Parramatta Eels||26–2||South Queensland Crushers||18 March 1995||Parramatta Stadium||8,080|
|3||Penrith Panthers||34–12||South Queensland Crushers||26 March 1995||Penrith Stadium||8,024|
|4||Brisbane Broncos||32–0||South Queensland Crushers||31 March 1995||QE II||49,607|
|5||South Queensland Crushers||16–12||North Sydney Bears||9 April 1995||Lang Park||19,233|
|6||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||38–10||South Queensland Crushers||16 April 1995||Brookvale Oval||10,616|
|7||South Queensland Crushers||24–24||Illawarra Steelers||23 April 1995||Lang Park||16,253|
|8||South Queensland Crushers||33–14||Parramatta Eels||30 April 1995||Lang Park||19,421|
|9||Sydney City Roosters||17–6||South Queensland Crushers||7 May 1995||Sydney Football Stadium||5,556|
|10||South Queensland Crushers||28–18||Newcastle Knights||21 May 1995||Lang Park||21,072|
|11||South Queensland Crushers||4–20||Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks||4 June 1995||Lang Park||22,258|
|12||Sydney Tigers||16–12||South Queensland Crushers||17 June 1995||Parramatta Stadium||3,225|
|13||South Queensland Crushers||28–8||Penrith Panthers||25 June 1995||Lang Park||19,753|
|14||Western Suburbs Magpies||38–14||South Queensland Crushers||1 July 1995||Campbelltown Stadium||4,707|
|15||South Queensland Crushers||20–24||South Sydney Rabbitohs||9 July 1995||Lang Park||19,288|
|16||Gold Coast Seagulls||8–14||South Queensland Crushers||15 July 1995||Seagulls Stadium||6,731|
|17||South Queensland Crushers||10–22||Auckland Warriors||23 July 1995||Lang Park||28,928|
|18||Western Reds||22–14||South Queensland Crushers||28 July 1995||WACA||9,103|
|19||South Queensland Crushers||22–6||North Queensland Cowboys||6 August 1995||Lang Park||17,105|
|20||St. George Dragons||16–6||South Queensland Crushers||13 August 1995||Kogarah Oval||9,091|
|21||South Queensland Crushers||18–25||Sydney Bulldogs||20 August 1995||Lang Park||26,904|
|22||Canberra Raiders||58–4||South Queensland Crushers||27 August 1995||Bruce Stadium||19,107|
The club had bought five players from the Sydney Roosters to help them improve from their inaugural season, and Queensland representative Tony Hearn also joined the club for the 1996 season. The opening round of the 1996 season the club gathered two points because of Canberra’s forfeit but the club only recorded three more wins in the entire season gathering six points on the competition ladder and took the wooden spoon for being last on the ladder. The Crushers won the second round clash against Parramatta before losing ten in a row. The Crushers then won two in a row before plummeting to lose their last eight matches.
Despite a record crowd that watched the Crushers take on the Brisbane Broncos of 34,263, the Crushers home ground support only averaged over 13,000 each game. The diminishing crowd numbers and player payments meant the club was on the brink of bankruptcy. The ARL and a mystery supporter bailed the club out with over half a million dollars in financial relief. With first-grade rugby league divided between two competitions, it would be hard for the Crushers to recoup lost money in establishing the club as it ploughed further into debt.
A glimmer of hope for the club came when the Crushers won the Under 21's premiership, defeating the Parramatta Eels in the Under 21's Grand Final. This was to be the only premiership for the Crushers.
|1||Canberra Raiders||forfeit||South Queensland Crushers|
|2||South Queensland Crushers||24–20||Parramatta Eels||29 March 1996||Lang Park||12,704|
|3||South Queensland Crushers||4–22||Penrith Panthers||7 April 1996||Lang Park||11,694|
|4||South Queensland Crushers||8–28||Brisbane Broncos||12 April 1996||Lang Park||34,263|
|5||North Sydney Bears||18–4||South Queensland Crushers||21 April 1996||North Sydney Oval||7,871|
|6||South Queensland Crushers||6–14||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||28 April 1996||Lang Park||15,202|
|7||Illawarra Steelers||18–14||South Queensland Crushers||5 May 1996||Wollongong Stadium||4,883|
|8||Parramatta Eels||14–4||South Queensland Crushers||11 May 1996||Parramatta Stadium||9,621|
|9||South Queensland Crushers||12–38||Sydney City Roosters||25 May 1996||Lang Park||10,107|
|10||Newcastle Knights||22–6||South Queensland Crushers||9 June 1996||Marathon Stadium||17,559|
|11||Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks||28–4||South Queensland Crushers||15 June 1996||Shark Park||7,071|
|12||South Queensland Crushers||2–12||Sydney Tigers||22 June 1996||Lang Park||10,166|
|13||Penrith Panthers||16–20||South Queensland Crushers||30 June 1996||Penrith Stadium||4,215|
|14||South Queensland Crushers||24–22||Western Suburbs Magpies||7 July 1996||Lang Park||8,961|
|15||South Sydney Rabbitohs||48–16||South Queensland Crushers||14 July 1996||Redfern Oval||3,107|
|16||South Queensland Crushers||4–52||Gold Coast Chargers||21 July 1996||Lang Park||8,776|
|17||Auckland Warriors||16–12||South Queensland Crushers||28 July 1996||Mt Smart Stadium||17,000|
|18||South Queensland Crushers||16–18||Western Reds||4 August 1996||Lang Park||7,789|
|19||North Queensland Cowboys||11–6||South Queensland Crushers||9 August 1996||Stockland Stadium||24,989|
|20||South Queensland Crushers||8–26||St. George Dragons||18 August 1996||Lang Park||9,567|
|21||Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||17–16||South Queensland Crushers||25 August 1996||Belmore Oval||5,025|
|22||South Queensland Crushers||10–36||Canberra Raiders||1 September 1996||Lang Park||13,945|
The 1997 season was not much better for the Crushers, again taking the wooden spoon for the second year running. Major sponsor XXXX was replaced as the major sponsor by AVJennings. The club only won four games of the twenty-two match season. The 1997 season for the Crushers saw their home game attendances dwindle to an average of 7,000 and even with free days, which allowed supporters to come to the games free of charge, the club didn’t gather support as it had in its inaugural season. The Crushers did however win their final match of the season convincingly 39-18 over the Western Suburbs Magpies and along with the North Sydney Bears and Newtown Jets, the South Queensland Crushers remain one of the few defunct clubs to have won their final game.
|1||Sydney City Roosters||34–10||South Queensland Crushers||9 March 1997||Sydney Football Stadium||8,475|
|2||South Queensland Crushers||23–6||Parramatta Eels||16 March 1997||Lang Park||9,523|
|3||Newcastle Knights||44–0||South Queensland Crushers||23 March 1997||Marathon Stadium||15,114|
|4||South Queensland Crushers||16–36||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||29 March 1997||Lang Park||9,147|
|5||Illawarra Steelers||14–6||South Queensland Crushers||6 April 1997||WIN Stadium||6,144|
|6||South Queensland Crushers||14–22||Gold Coast Chargers||13 April 1997||Lang Park||5,290|
|7||South Sydney Rabbitohs||24–20||South Queensland Crushers||20 April 1997||Sydney Football Stadium||4,353|
|8||South Queensland Crushers||16–18||Balmain Tigers||25 April 1997||Lang Park||5,998|
|9||St. George Dragons||32–22||South Queensland Crushers||4 May 1997||Kogarah Oval||5,003|
|10||South Queensland Crushers||22–36||North Sydney Bears||10 May 1997||Lang Park||5,447|
|11||Western Suburbs Magpies||32–12||South Queensland Crushers||18 May 1997||Campbelltown Stadium||5,732|
|12||South Queensland Crushers||28–14||Sydney City Roosters||23 May 1997||Lang Park||5,518|
|13||Parramatta Eels||52–10||South Queensland Crushers||8 June 1997||Parramatta Stadium||10,009|
|14||South Queensland Crushers||6–24||Newcastle Knights||28 June 1997||Lang Park||4,769|
|15||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||46–12||South Queensland Crushers||6 July 1997||Brookvale Oval||5,055|
|16||South Queensland Crushers||8–34||Illawarra Steelers||19 July 1997||Lang Park||2,364|
|17||Gold Coast Chargers||40–18||South Queensland Crushers||27 July 1997||Carrara Stadium||8,392|
|18||South Queensland Crushers||17–16||South Sydney Rabbitohs||3 August 1997||Lang Park||3,545|
|19||Balmain Tigers||32–14||South Queensland Crushers||10 August 1997||Leichhardt Oval||5,101|
|20||South Queensland Crushers||0–14||St. George Dragons||17 August 1997||Lang Park||13,845|
|21||North Sydney Bears||42–8||South Queensland Crushers||24 August 1997||North Sydney Oval||7,308|
|22||South Queensland Crushers||39–18||Western Suburbs Magpies||31 August 1997||Lang Park||11,588|
With the unification of the Australian Rugby League and Super League competitions following the 1997 season, the new National Rugby League competition was formed. This meant that three of the twenty-two teams participating in 1997 would be axed as part of the rationalisation process aimed at reducing teams to an optimal number. With the introduction of the Melbourne Storm and the fact that the agreement between the Australian Rugby League and Super League was to have a fourteen-team competition in 2000, the future for the Crushers was inevitably demise.
In late 1997, the club's only option of survival was to merge, with the most likely contender the Gold Coast Chargers, who like the Crushers, were struggling to be able to compete in the competition with the hugely successful Brisbane Broncos being the dominant team in south-east Queensland. However, the National Rugby League approved the Gold Coast team for the 1998 season, and they went alone into the re-unified competition. The South Queensland Crushers were liquidated in December 1997 with debts totalling over A$3 million.
|Australian Rugby League season 1995||22||6||1||15||303||502||-199||27.27%||16/20|
|Australian Rugby League season 1996||21||3||0||18||220||496||-276||14.29%||20/20|
|Australian Rugby League season 1997||22||4||0||18||321||630||-309||18.18%||12/12|
Other notable players include Mario Fenech, Nigel Gaffey, Mark Hohn, John Jones, Tony Kemp, Phillip Lee, Danny Nutley, Mark Protheroe, and Dale Shearer, and Kurt Wrigley. Players who went on to be successful with other clubs include Clinton Schifcofske, Mark Tookey, Scott Sattler, Travis Norton, Chris McKenna, St John Ellis, Steele Retchless and Danny Nutley.
Club records from 1995-1997.
|21||39-18||Western Suburbs Magpies||Lang Park||31 August 1997|
|20||28-8||Penrith Panthers||Lang Park||25 June 1995|
|19||33-14||Parramatta Eels||Lang Park||30 April 1995|
|54||4-58||Canberra Raiders||Bruce Stadium||25 August 1995|
|48||4-52||Gold Coast Chargers||Lang Park||21 July 1996|
|44||0-44||Newcastle Knights||Marathon Stadium||23 March 1997|
2 matches, 30 June - 7 July 1996.
10 matches, 7 April - 22 June 1996.