The Club shared the pre-existing Surfers Paradise AFC ground on the Isle of Capri.
The first game was against Labrador at the Isle of Capri which Broadbeach lost. In fact the Cats did not win a game in their first season and finished with the wooden spoon.
Tensions between Surfers and Broadbeach escalated when several players switched to Broadbeach colours during the course of the year. A new ground needed to be located quickly and in 1972 Broadie relocated to a site in Paradise Point.
At the start of the season, there were no clubrooms at Paradise Point, so tents were erected on match days to be used as change-rooms. Through generous donations of time and equipment by club members and local council, club rooms were subsequently built, and opened on the 4th July by the Mayor. On 14 May 1972, Broadbeach won its first ever game, against Labrador. It was in ‘76, led by strong-man Kevin Maynard, that the Cats made the grand final for the first time beating Palm Beach in the Preliminary Final in 1976. Unfortunately, neighbourly rivals, the Southport Magpies proved too strong on the day. The rivalry between local teams and particularly Southport, gathered strength. Training was conducted in the early to mid 1970’s in the Broadbeach area at several venues: the Broadbeach Primary School, the Broadbeach Soccer Club and Pizzy Park (Burleigh Bears Rugby League). Sharing of facilities was becoming increasingly difficult and the ground at Paradise Point was both inconvenient and lacking in facilities compared to other grounds on the Gold Coast.
Senior performance will be forever underpinned by junior development programs and so it was with Broadbeach: Junior teams from U/12 to U/16s were competing in 1972, and in 1976 the U/10s commenced followed by the U/9s and Auskick programs in 1981. In celebration of true community status, in the following year the Pussys, a female team was established. It just has to be one of the first female aussie rules teams anywhere! In 1977, after 30 attempts, Broadbeach recorded its first win against Southport – a rivalry so fundamental to any sporting competition, was consumated. In the same year, meaningful discussions took place with the Albert Shire Council about a permanent home ground at the Clear Island tip site at Merrimac. On 2 January 1978, a 15 year lease agreement was signed between the Broadbeach AFC and the Albert Shire Council allowing the club exclusive use of Merrimac Oval, and all indications were that the ground would be ready for the 1979 season.
On the 24th June 1979, the current ground was officially opened prior to the defeat by Coolangatta. Securing the ground was a great achievement by long-time president Stan Brown and life member Harry Halkerston, who worked tirelessly to gain use of the apparently disregarded plot. Interestingly the ground measured 202 x 164 yards in comparison to the ‘G’ at 191 x 62. The intense rivalry with Southport continued to develop, and Broadbeach scored a season upset win over the Magpies in July 1980, and added salt to the wound by winning the Colts flag for 1979 when they downed the hot favourites Southport.
Organisational and strategic needs took over in the early 80s. The Constitution was written with intent to have a management committee that represented active club sections balanced with independent members. 1981 is best remembered for the dispute over the use of the fully fenced Merrimac Oval, but without visitor changing room toilets, for the preliminary final. Based on playing surface objections, several clubs led by guess who, Southport refused to play at Merrimac. The Preliminary final went ahead but the Grand Final was played eventually at Salk Oval. Broadie played in the Ressies GF unsuccessfully and the Colts won the flag again.
In 1982, a year when Geelong and Footscray met on the coast at Owen park (Southport) in an exhibition game, Broadie ran into player payment troubles. Jimmy Stubbs guaranteed a bank loan to ensure player payments, and the club stayed alive. Ground controversy was again a talking point as the league were keen to gain revenues from the final series. Press reports suggest that Merrimac had the cleanest clubrooms, best canteen and car par facilities. We were selected again because of a fully fenced facility (enabling car parking fees and ground entrance charges), and because it was and is centrally located – although our rivals preferred to refer to Merrimac as ‘out in the sticks’. Again, the preliminary was played at Merrimac but the Grand Final at Salk Oval, where the Ressies won the flag against Southport. Club committee meeting minutes suggest that fully licensed premises status was achieved this year
In 1983 we said goodbye to the Southport Sharks who entered the QAFL. (We have since picked up the rivalry and derby atmosphere in the AFLQ). All senior teams made the finals amid a reported rift between players and coach Harold Davies and a “no train no play edict” resulting in the inevitable internal clash. Club documents suggest this is the year that the Supporters first formed a coterie with membership at $100 each, which amongst other benefits, bought an issue of the ‘Cat Whisper’. The Ressies and Colts won the flag.
While little detail on facility development is available, clearly there were change rooms of sorts and an after-game venue for a well earned catch-me-up. In 1984 under Brian Rowe as coach, new clubrooms were built at a cost of $40,000. It is presumed that individual contributions of both kind and money, plus GCCC input along with a reported sponsorship of $15,000 over 3 years from the Lone Star Tavern, resulted in an extended licensed club, including a snooker room. The history of the Gold Coast and Broadbeach AFC intertwined at this point with the rubble from the demolished Surfers Paradise Hotel being used to create spectator mounds around the ground – who knows what stories are beneath the feet of today’s supporters? As a precursor to the Bears (1987), the finals were played at Carrara. And more importantly for Broadie, meeting minutes record that on the motion of Graeme Buntine, the club should commence processes to incorporate as the Broadbeach Australian Rules Football Club. Interestingly, in that year the GCAFL was sponsored to the tune of $7,500 by Victoria’s Four’n Twenty Pies, on the condition that the GC representative side was to be known as the Blackbirds. To celebrate the deal, and also the opening of a new GC Four’n Twenty outlet, the sponsor flew in the Swannies captain Barry Round, father of present day captain, David. The Broadbeach Cat Colts won the flag again.
In 1985 it was reported that we were the only fully licensed club in the GCAFL. It was no guarantee of off-field success – club turnovers ranged between $6,500 and $9,000 per month but still ran a deficit. The familiar issues of insurance, security systems and memberships were the talking points. Would you believe a $15 pensioner membership was the go at the time?The Club financial position prompted an invitation to the GC cricket association to share the facilities. The new rooms and obviously improved ground surface saw the club host the finals with the Ressies winning a bloodbath against Coolangatta. The late 80s may be termed the Coaching Era. In 1986 an Ex Geelong player, Gordon Hynes was appointed. He couldn’t have lasted too long as one David James, ex Sunshine VFA, actually coached during the season. Eighty six also saw the introduction of PNG representative games versus the Blackbirds. For the rule-minded, ’86 is also when compulsory send offs were introduced and Broadie’s Greg Sklavos was the first Quuensland player to be sent off for 10 mins in a practice match versus Springwood. Not something to record with relish but none-the-less, adding to the saga and tradition of the Club. In 1987, Wayne Ling was appointed coach for 2 years with Brian Rowe as captain. Both first and seconds finished on top and we went on to win our first ever senior premiership (against PBC). Appropriately, some off-field structuring was simultaneously achieved with formal incorporation of the club. Coach Ling took off prematurely to the GF opponents and in 1988, George Hider, B&F from 1987 was appointed the fourth coach in three years. That year the Club also adopted the professional move of appointing a full time fundraiser. The late 80s appear to be a fraught period of financial concern with a recorded $18,000 loss for the ’89 season. A decision was made to pursue gambling revenues. Records also indicate the Pussys won the premiership.
Also in ’87, the earliest archived Junior records list Dean Howard as the B&F for the U/12 League and present day Senior Sergeant of the Burleigh Heads police station, Toby Wilkinson played in the U/16 Grand Final. The Juniors continue to be a important entity within the club. It is often the first contact point for community members and the continuity indicated by familiar names in membership lists and team lists year after year attests to club integration. The Juniors have contributed in significant ways to the ground facilities in provision of Gymnasium equipment and space, landscaping spectator areas and BBQ They have instigated a number of programs, inter alia, Auskick in conjunction with the GCAFL, and the retention plan providing incentive for Juniors to continue with the Seniors and have fielded without break teams in the U/9s, U/10s, U/11s, U/12s, U/14s and U/16s. Importantly we are very active with local schools in the promotion of junior football. The Junior Club was voted club of the year in 2001 and Dale Perkins, current Senior Club committee member, received ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for Queensland in 2005.
The 90s saw the cricket club associated with the football club. In 1991 the CC was incorporated and the decision appeared to be justified with a small profit on a turnover of around $200,000. Perhaps the inauguration of the Old Boys in that year, providing the more mature community member an outlet for physical well being and group membership, contributed to this success. With average weekly costs around $2,000 and cash only accounts with the brewery, the Club jumped in the deep end. The Cricket club went from 5 to 6 teams and 2 softball teams were introduced. An irrigation system was installed operating 11am to 7pm – ponder that as of the present – and the GCCC provided $34,000 for the lighting system to be improved. Constitutionally, affiliated clubs would have their own membership fees and pokies were approved and introduced. In 1995 an extended 15 year lease to 31 July 2010 was agreed by both Council and Club. In 1996, a year when current President Terry Roach, was coach of the colts, we celebrated with a triple premiership – played at Merrimac – with the GC league barring alcohol other than that served over the bar.
In June of the new century, the Club re-incorporated as the Broadbeach Sports and Recreation Centre Inc. simultaneously entering the AFLQ. In the same year, Nic Riewoldt became the first Broadbeach player to be drafted to the AFL, since followed by several locals, the most recent being Ricky Petterd to Melbourne in 2006. In 2003 the U/18s came under the banner of the senior club which also initiated the community participation activity of open gender recreational football in 2005, an Aussie rules version of touch-football running for 12 weeks after the season proper. With neighboring school potential activity, our facilities are used to a maximum on a yearly basis. Provision of appropriate playing facilities for community use remains at the top of our agenda. Currently we are limited, by amongst others, sub-standard lighting for training and evening events, the discomfort of inadequate change rooms, and the never ending financial demands of keeping a community organisation alive and well.
The Gold Coast, a football vacuum since the Brisbane Bears moved, has grown to become the 6th biggest urban area in Australia with nearly half a million people. In recent years, several bids were made for a new AFL franchise by local rivals, the powerhouse Southport Sharks Australian Football Club, including attempts to lure a Melbourne based club in 2004. Demographic trends suggest a growing demand for Australian Rules football and the AFL has stepped up, with the 17th franchise the SUNs, entering Gold Coast market in 2011. AFL football is on the march and Broadbeach Australian Football Club is as important as any in the strategic planning for success. In 2007, there were around 3,300 senior players in Queensland, with a total of 74,626 participants. Although the overall participation per capita is around 2%, the sport is growing faster in Queensland than any other Australian state. Broadbeach participation rates represented in the chart below (Recreational players not included) show marked increase since 2002 and given match day activities, effectively the community facility caters to twice the numbers indicated on a weekly basis plus school and summer season club participants.
Broadbeach Australian Football Club is a thriving community based sporting organisation that participates in the NEAFL and QAFL State League; the AFL Gold Coast Junior League (Auskick, Modifieds and Youth); and The AFL Gold Coast Old Boys League; We compete against financially secure organisations such as the Brisbane Lions, traditional rivals the Southport Sharks, Zillmere Eagles, the NT and in 2011 teams from the NEAFL such as the Swans, GWS, the SUNs, and Canberra based sides. Participation alone required an annual turnover of approximately $300,000, a huge challenge for the club.
The Broadbeach club also has good internal working relationships and there has been a steady flow of local junior talent into the senior team, and as has been mentioned, several local players have graduated to the AFL via Broadbeach AFC. The Strategic Plan also reports a survey process in 2006 that highlights the well established “community feel” and further states that people involved genuinely enjoy their participation and like “their” club. There is a demonstrably huge current commitment to self help. There are per season some 3.5 and 3 work years of inputs into the Junior and Senior Clubs respectively. This volunteer network is an area of envy of other clubs. Personalities aside – and the names are legendary – the blood sweat and tears paint a picture of community perseverance in the face of recent slow down in facility development in comparison to our rivals.
The early to mid 2010s saw a number of significant changes at the club, including the reversion back from NEAFL to QAFL for the senior club, and the installation of the new change room facility at the western end of the ground. Time would be dictate leaving the NEAFL it was the correct answer, with the emergence for the Gold Coast Suns and their academy program providing a pathway for a number of Broadbeach Juniors to make their way at national level. While the juniors achieved moderate success on the ground, the Senior club was not able to raise the flag.
in 2019, Broadbeach Juniors moved to put a heavy focus on the rapidly growing Girls Football program. Up until that point, Girls football at Broadbeach had been served by a solitary Girls football team, between U15 and U17s, well coached by Mick Laverde and supported by his family. In 2019, Kelly Hardy joined the club from Pacific Pines with a view to make Broadbeach a destination club for Girls football. instantly her impact was felt, hosting a girls football information day which expected some 20-30 girls but saw 120 turn up. Numbers of Girls Football grew from that 20 in 2018 to some 130 in 2021.
By 2021, the club was thriving. A huge junior program, which saw its training base expand into Merrimac High School, and use the facilities at Kombumerri Park expand to Friday evenings, most of the day on Saturday (when there was no senior games), and Sundays. The senior club found success with a long-awaited premiership – 26 years (after 3 grand final appearances in 4 season), and a program led by Craig O’Brien which will surely secure the Cats as a club destined for success for a lengthy period of time.
1971 BAFL’s First Team and Officials
In no particular order: Percy Baker, Mel Cook, Dennis Cotterill, Ian Gordon, John Kerr, Brett Martin, Keith McConville, Russ McDonald, Jack McWhae, Gary McWhea,
Kevin Neilson, Steve Palmer, Jake Rebecchi, Brian Spence, John Stone, David Stones, Jim Stubbs, Bob Thomas and John Traill