12 June 2024

Queanbeyan mourns the loss of two sporting legends: David Grimmond and Brian Bourke

| Tim Gavel
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David Grimmond in football jersey

Loyal to Queanbeyan, David Grimmond. Photo: Supplied.

David Grimmond made an impact in both rugby league and rugby union, gaining selection for NSW and NSW Country in league, as well as the ACT, NSW and the Wallabies in union.

In 1970, playing for NSW against Queensland in a brutal rugby league contest at the SCG, he scored two tries for the Blues.

David Grimmond captained the St Edmund's College 1st XV in 1960.

David Grimmond captained the St Edmund’s College 1st XV in 1960.

David was playing for Queanbeyan United at the time, having switched from rugby union.

As a hard-running player, gifted with speed from his track and field days, he was also as ferocious a defender as you will see. He was a natural fit for rugby league.

He rejected the offer of a two-year contract with the Penrith NSWRL club, opting to stay with Queanbeyan United.

However, it was as a rugby union player that he first made his mark.

At 20 years of age, playing with the Queanbeyan Whites, he won selection on the wing for the Wallabies in the second test against the All Blacks in 1964 in Christchurch. He became only the second player from Queanbeyan to play at test level for the Wallabies.

David Grimmond in his Wallabies jersey

David Grimmond in his Wallabies jersey. Photo: Supplied.

Peter Ryan was the first the year before, while former Queanbeyan player Alan Morton, although born in Queanbeyan, won selection for Australia while playing for Randwick between 1957 and 1959.

David Grimmond only played one test and was considered extremely unlucky not to have played more.

There are stories of his toughness, including one from a Wallaby trial where his brutal defence wiped out his rivals. Many speak of the relief of playing alongside him instead of against him.

Such was his reputation that Joan Campese, mother of 12-year-old David Campese, approached David Grimmond to help with her son’s tackling method. The two Davids worked together on speed and defence for a decade.

David Campese, of course, went on to become one of the greatest Wallabies of all time.

David Campese's written tribute to David Grimmond at the front of Campese's book. Photo: Supplied.

David Campese’s written tribute to David Grimmond at the front of Campese’s book. Photo: Supplied.

David Grimmond’s passing reminds me of the importance of honouring sports achievements, not that I ever heard David promote what he achieved in any way. He was as humble as they come, a devoted family man with values to cherish.

The expression ‘they breed them tough in Queanbeyan’ was exemplified through the character of David and another from that era, Brian Bourke.

Brian was uncompromising as a rugby league player from the late 1950s to the 70s.

Brian Bourke in his playing days with the Queanbeyan Blues

Brian Bourke in his playing days with the Queanbeyan Blues. Photo: Facebook.

He also played for the Queanbeyan Blues. His 16 years with the club, from 1959 through to 1976 as a player, included selection for NSW Country and being named NSW Country Player of the Year.

His reputation as a tough, unyielding player was eclipsed by his reputation as a fitness trainer across two codes in the Canberra region.

Brian was the Raiders’ first head trainer in 1982, alongside the club’s first coach, Don Furner.

His training methods were based on hard work, and as a result, players from that era will tell you they have never been fitter.

Raiders’ patron, John McIntyre, paid tribute to Brian Bourke.

“Brian was a long-time player for the Queanbeyan Blues whose legacy will be long remembered by those who played with him or were coached by him. Brian believed that hard work was the key to achieving success and he implemented this as the Raiders’ inaugural head trainer.”

Inside the Queanbeyan Leagues Club, there is a constant reminder of his contribution to the Blues and the Raiders through his sculptured form, immortalised in bronze.

Brian Bourke immortalised in bronze at the Queanbeyan Leagues Club. Photo: Facebook.

Brian Bourke immortalised in bronze at the Queanbeyan Leagues Club. Photo: Facebook.

The Raiders weren’t the only team to benefit from Brian’s brutal training methods, which not only made the players fit but also facilitated confidence and self-belief.

In his first season as Royals first-grade coach in 1979, John Kelsey called on Brian to get his team fit.

And being a former Royals junior, Brian was only too happy to come on board. For the next 20 years, he helped position the club as possibly the fittest team to contest the John I Dent Cup.

The training sessions transferred to on-field success. The Royals went on to win eight first-grade premierships between 1979 and 1991.

The success of the Royals in that period can be attributed in part to Brian’s pre-season and mid-season fitness sessions.

In recent years, he has battled dementia while still coaching on the South Coast.

Both Brian Bourke and David Grimmond have left an indelible imprint on the fabric of sport in this region. Their influence is still prevalent to this day.

A mass celebrating David’s life will be held at Mary, Help of Christians Church, Pearce, on Thursday, 13 June, commencing at 11:30 am.

Brian’s funeral service was held on 3 June at the Mollymook Surf Club.

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