Tigers move forward in long history

IT has been a long, exciting, tiring and at times frustrating process that dates way back to 1925 to produce one of the most successful football clubs the city of Queanbeyan has achieved.

And it has also taken one man to help operate the club in a committment that has lasted a mammouth 42 years.

This year, the Queanbeyan Tigers Australian Rules Football Club is celebrating it's 90th season of gameplay, and along with the 42-year veteran himself Ron Fowlie, The Queanbeyan Age took a look at what is truly an exhilarating history with plenty of ups and downs at the club.

Fowlie began his career in football administration at the club in 1972 aged just 17 years old, and took up the role of General Manager in 1988.

But what was most significant in Fowlie starting work at the club was that it was during a period of much needed change.

Besides first grade premierships in 1953, 1954 and 1956 merged with the former Acton Football Club, the Queanbeyan Tigers went 44 years without a first grade title.

The worst years for the club were from the early 1960s to mid 1970s- a time the club itself labels as "disastrous", and on February 10 1971, a headline in The Canberra News read "Australian Rules dying where it was born" and "Queanbeyan in trouble."

Between 1962 and 1974 the club failed to make the finals, and endured a number of wooden spoons that raised the question of whether it would still be viable to keep the club in the Australian Capital Territory competition.

But between the mid 1970s and early 1980s plans for the construction of a licensed club, to raise desperately needed funds the keep the club alive, recreated momentum and from these years the club pulled out of its struggles and became a dominant force in regional Australian Rules football again.

"It was a very dark time for the club," said Fowlie of the awful 1960s and 1970s period.

"In 1973 a very young and new administration took over the operations of the club and planned some much needed changes to save the club."

"The most important of these was the building of a licensed club, which would bring us from the doldrums and financially support AFL in Queanbeyan again."

Through the 1960s public support for the club fell dramatically with team results going astray.

In 1970 the club game dangerously close to folding completely with an outgoing president and raised League participation fees by the then Canberra Australian National Football League.

And in 1973 the junior section of the club threatened to branch off from the seniors and form their own club.

But the young administration that entered in 1973- including 27-year old president Peter Atherton, 17-year old secretary Fowlie, 19-year old treasurer Alan McDonald, and 18-year old committee member Dennis Hopkins - proved to be the young blood the club needed to get back on its feet.

"We were able to create unity in the club for the first time in many years," said Fowlie.

"We closed the gap between the juniors and the seniors, recognising that the seniors would cease to exist without the juniors, and we spent years planning for our licensed club."

Attempts to obtain a liquor license proved timely for the club, but this finally occurred in 1982 and a year later, the Tigers Club finally openend on its current premises on Queenbar Road.

The road from there to 1985 was filled with preliminary finals appointments, before taking their elusive 1985 premiership- their first as a single club in 44 years.

Up till the club's last title in the NEAFL eastern conference they have taken seven titles and made a further 10 grand finals, and this success has stemmed down to the lowers grades with 19 grand final appearances in the reserve and intermediate grades. Seven of these have been premierships.

Fowlie, having been a part of the most important period of the club's history, said he could not be happier with where they have come.

"We were in desperate times for a long time, but we pulled through, and we survived," he said.

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