Chapter 6 - Rebuilding the Club 1950 - 1959

With the amalgamation of Thompson Estate Harriers Amateur Athletic Club and Eastern Suburbs Amateur Athletic Club, a stronger, more active athletics club came into being, though this took several years to come to fruition.


The immediate benefits were an increase in membership through amalgamation, a strong club administration and improved training facilities at Langlands Park. Langlands Park, Coorparoo (now the home of Eastern Suburbs Rugby League Club) remained the home of TEES until 1957, when the club moved to the Annerley Soccer Club Grounds. This move did not prove successful, and the club moved to Hanlon Park, Stones Corner, and then to Jones Park, Thompson Estate in 1964.


In the 1950s, Langlands Park was used not only as a training ground, but also for weekly club runs based on the system used so successfully prior to the war. These runs did not prove succcessful, however, and were abandoned during the 1951/52 season in favour of club training. Langlands Park also hosted several successful night carnivals during these years. Membership slowly increased during the 1950s, with both the men's and women’s sections gaining in numbers. By the 1957/58 season, the men’s section numbered 110 while the women’s section reached 95 in 1958/59. These were the maximum numbers, and the club consolidated its membership just below these figures.


ln competition, the 1950s was a successful period for the men’s and women’s sections. The women began life as TEES by winning the B- grade lnterclub, placing second in the junior interclub and third in the A-grade interclub in the seniors in the 1950/51 season. By the 1953/54 season, the strength of the women’s club had increased, such that they were B-grade winners, and runners-up in the A-grade, lnterclub relays, Junior and Sub-Junior competitions. The rising strength of the women’s club continued under the leadership of Joyce and Albert Bonwick into the 1960s and 1970s. By 1957/58, this strength enabled the club to win the Junior interclub Competition, and finish runners-up in the Senior, Intermediate, Sub-Junior and interclub Relay Competitions. Women’s events were conducted at Downey Park and continued there until Q.E. ll Stadium was opened in 1975.


Cross Country running events for women were introduced by Joyce Bonwick, and in 1959/60, TEES was successful in gaining the first three places in the first State Championship. These were H. Bonwick first, M. Rushton second and S. Casson third. ln the same year, the depth of athletic ability enabled the club to win the Junior interclub Relays and finish second in the Senior and Sub-Junior Relays.


The fortunes of the men’s section of the club also improved after amalgamation. ln the 1950/51 season, in a club versus club interclub system, TEES was defeated by Mayne Harriers in the B-grade final, and came third in the Junior (Under 19) competition. This was followed in the 1951/52 season with a win in the metric interclub competition. ln the 1952/53 season, the men were the Premier Club of Queensland in the Senior Championships, third in the juniors, first in the inter-club relays, won C-grade lnterclub and were third in A-Grade. Other successes were experienced in the 1950s, but success came more through individual performance than success as a whole club. During the 1950s, the Cross Country and road running strength of the men’s section was weak, though E.C. Barnacle was the 1953 Queensland Marathon Champion.


The 1951/52 season saw TEES change, for the first time, from the red, white and blue colours used since 1900, as the club experienced difficulty in obtaining the vertical striped singlets. The new singlets were gold in colour, with a red, white and blue insignia, with white shorts. lt is believed the gold colours were those of the former Eastern Suburbs A.A.C. These colours were used by the men's section until the 1959/60 season when the club reverted to the red, white and blue vertical striped singlet, with white shorts. Some of the social aspects of the club in the 1950s included the Club Championships, held at Downey Park in 1950/51, at Nambour in 1952/53 and at Lang Park in 1956/57.


The men’s section conducted winter track and field club runs at Lang Park in 1955/56. In the women’s section, activities such as Trophy Nights, Pionics and Christmas Tree Evenings were common events at this time, and contributed greatly to the success of the club. ln 1959, the Centenary Year for Queensland, the women’s section participated in a float during the Centenary Procession and Parade. Probably the most exciting time for athletics at the time was the 1956 Olympic Games held in melbourne. TEES was well represented with Chilla Porter, Jim Achurch and Morrie Rich being selected to represent Australia, Chilla in the High Jump, Jim in the Javelin, and Morrie in the Triple Jump. As well, several officials from this club were selected to officiate at the Games, these being O.S. Butterfield, M.A. Belshore, W.W. Huxley, S. Muddle, W.J. Lightbody and E.C. Barnacle. ln the competition itself, Chilla Porter recorded a magnificent performance in the High Jump, gaining the silver medal in finishing second to an American High Jumper. This competition lasted several hours, and was lost by Chilla late in the evening after an epic battle. This performance remains not only the most successful by a TEES athlete at an Olympic Games, but also the most successful individual performance by a Queensland athlete at any Olympic Games. In recognition of this performance, he was awarded The Telegraph Newspapers "Athletic Blue" for 1956/57, with fellow competitor Morrie Rich being third in the award.


The 1956/57 Annual Report of TEES records this performance as follows : "Chilla had the good fortune to secure second place in the High Jump to the mighty Dumas of USA. Chilla jumped 6ft 10.5 inches to break the Australian record which was held by himself by three inches. This effort was an excellent performance as the High Jump took nearly four hours to contest and at the Hnish he and Dumas were jumping in the semi- darkness at about 7.30 pm, and held the crowd of about 80,000 who had stopped to see the Hnish of the contest spellbound, as during each try by both he and Dumas not a sound was heard. A mighty roar went up when the result was announced and Chilla had secured second place with the highest jump ever by an Australian and the second best in the world on that day. As one person remarked that night if Dumas had not been competing, Chilla would have won the event, which goes to show the enthusiasm shown by the Australian public."


At various times, however, the Club also experienced some less successful times. The 1952 Annual Report recorded the general apathy present within the Club. "ln the season just completed, the peformances of the club in both distance and track and field reached a very low standard, the only redeeming feature being some fine idividual performances by several members. This happens to most clubs at times, and only determined Club spirit and co-operation of members can bring about further successes.


There is no doubt that this club has-the material which, handled correctly, will soon put Thompson Estate Eastern Suburbs back into the prominent position it held in previous years."


One sad aspect for the club was the death on 22/3/1953 of J.A. Donnan, one of the founding members of Thompson Estate Harriers, and a life member. He had served the club well in a variety of positions, including being the inaugural Treasurer.


The 1955/56 season was the one in which Mr. Ft.K. Brown, then President of the club, donated a shield to be known as the "Ft.K. Brown Shield" for the highest point scorers in QAAA and QWAAA Track and Field lnterclub competition, initially in the Senior competition. This has subsequently been altered to include all age groups. This shield has been won on many occassions by some very prominent athletes including Australian representatives Morrie Ftich, Denise Ftobertson, Gary Brown and Brenda Cox, Life Members Frank Knight, Heather Doherty and Gordon Hodge, and is still awarded every year. The mid 1950s saw a new club, Bulimba AAC, form and it competed for several years in lnterclub competition until 1963, when it was disbanded and some members joined TEES. The Bulimba Club was successful in winning the 1955/56 C-grade lnterclub Track and Field competition.


ln the 1957/58 season, Mr. A. Bonwick Senior, who had been a club member for many years, passed away. ln memory of Mr. Bonwick, a Southside High Schools Carnival Competition, to be known as the Bonwick Carnival, was begun by the Club. lnitially, 5 schools competed, and as new schools such as Camp Hill, Mt. Gravatt and Yeronga grew, this competition expanded. The Carnival was held for 10 years before the trophy was awarded to Brisbane State High School permanently, as the most prolific winner. In the time of this carnival, future Olympians Denise Robertson, Barbara Jordan and Gary Brown were among the competitors.


ln Commonwealth Games competition in this decade, TEES was represented by Jim Achurch (1954 and 1958 Javelin), Chilla Porter (1958 High Jump), and Morrie Ftich (1958 Long Jump and Triple Jump). Jim was successful in winning the Javelin Gold Medal in 1954, while Chilla gained the Silver Medal in the High Jump in 1958 and Morrie the Bronze in the Triple Jump in the same Games.


The decade concluded with the celebration of Queensland’s Centenary Year in 1959. Mr. W. C. Thompson was awarded second place and a silver cup in a Centenary Competition to find “Queensland’s Most Experienced All-time Sportsman". The 1959/60 Annual report records "From a panel of judges, Mr. Thompson was awarded second prize, a silver cup suitably engraved. The Sporting Committee entertained Mr. Thompson at the old time Sportsmen and Sportswomen Celebrations. The reception was given by Ald. T.Ft. Groom, Lord Mayor of Brisbane, in the City Hall."


A Centenary Medallion was awarded to Mr. Fl. Brown who was one of 5 athletes from the QAAA who received a medallion from the Sports Committee on Centenary Day, December 10th 1959.


In the women’s section, medals were gained at the Centenary Carnival by Brenda Cox, B. Parker, Ft. Williams and Heather Doherty for their contribution to Queensland Athletics.


ln the Queen’s Honours List of 1959, the Club vice- president Kenneth Fraser was awarded the Knight Batchelor, Knight St. John. The Annual Report records: “Her majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, was graciously pleased to hnour your Senior Vice- President in her New Year Honour List. The Knighthood of Knight of St. John conferred by Her Majesty on one of our Senior Vice-Presidents is very gratifying to members of our Club. Sir Kenneth joined the club as a competitive member in 1921 and was elected a Vice-President in 1922.“ Individually, many athletes enjoyed success in this decade. Queensland records were broken by Jim Achurch (Javelin) several times, J. Adams in the Discus Throw, Chilia Porter in the High Jump, Morrie Rich in the Triple Jump, Bob Brown in the Hammer Throw Open and Under 19, Peter Ravenscrolt in Under 17 Shotput, W. Wilson in Under 19 Javelin, J. Josephson in Under 17 Javelin, and R. Frawley in Javelin and Hammer Throw Under 17. Chilla Porter and Jim Achurch both recorded Australian records several times, Jim in the Javelin and Chilia in the High Jump.


In the women's section, State Records were awarded to B. Newman (High Jump), N. McManus (Javelin), H. Tangelder (Discus), L. Birtwell (60 yards, Javelin and Long Jump), R. Carson (Discus), D. Watson (60 yards), Brenda Cox (60 yards, 75 yards, 220 yards, 80 metres hurdles), L. Pettigrew (60 yards), Sandra Casson (Long Jump) and C. Dyke (Discus). At Australian Championships, the club’s athletes recorded some excellent results, including Jim Achurch in Javelin (2nd in 51/52, ‘lst 52/53, lst 53/54, 2nd 54/55, 2nd 55/56), Don McNiven in Shotput (3rd 51/52), Bruce Butterfield (1st 220 yards 52/53, 1st 4x110 yards relay), Hugh Thaggard in 440 yards (2nd 52/53, 2nd 53/54), Chilia Porter in High Jump (1st 54/55, 1st 55/56, 1st 56/57, 1st 57/58, 1st 58/59), Morrie Rich in Triple Jump (3rd 56/57, 2nd 57/58) and Long Jump (2nd 57/58, 1st 58/59) and R. Brown (2nd Hammer Throw 59/60).


ln the women’s section, successful athletes at Australian Championships were V. Pepper in Javelin (1 st 53/54) and Brenda Cox (3rd 100 yards Junior 59/60).


The 1950s was generally a successful decade for the club, but if TEES did well in the 1950s, better was to come in the 1960s.


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