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As the 2015 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys continue to rewrite the record books during their National Rugby League campaign, the club’s first 20 years have been chronicled in a definitive history.

>>> Extract from 20 Years in the Saddle – foreword & introduction

Penned by respected rugby league historian Neil Cadigan, 20 Years in the Saddle: North Queensland Cowboys 1995-2014 is available for purchase now.

The 320-page display book charts the genesis of the Cowboys, and takes a walk through the club’s first two decades competing on the National Rugby League stage, all the way through to last year’s heartbreaking 31-30 finals loss to the Sydney Roosters.

But more than just being a record of the Cowboys’ national playing history, the book charts the pre-Cowboys days of rugby league in North Queensland, right back to the first steps in establishing the sport in the region in 1914, through to the extraordinary scenes in 1989 when 15,000 people packed the Townsville Sports Reserve for a Panasonic Cup match between Brisbane and Parramatta.

That massive turnout was the catalyst for the formation of the Cowboys as we know them today, and Cadigan retraces those key historical moments to produce the ultimate club history.

“I can still vividly remember that first night in 1995 (the Cowboys first national league game, against the Bulldogs on 11 March),” recalls foundation coach Grant Bell in the book’s foreword.

“It was always going to be a special place, a home where the best of North Queensland’s talent now had the opportunity to take on, and prove their worth, against the best in the land.”

Aside from Cadigan’s detailed examination of the Cowboys’ story, 20 Years in the Saddle is packed with priceless black-and-white and colour photographs that serve as an exquisite visual record of the club.

“Neil’s book is an ideal complement to our 20-year celebrations,” Cowboys General Manager – Commercial Steve Mitchell said.

“It’s a fantastic keepsake for everyone who bleeds blue, yellow and grey – including all our members and fans – and for the rugby league pundit in general.

“The Cowboys are thrilled to have been able to produce such a definitive record of our great club in this special year and we hope you enjoy it.”

20 Years in the Saddle: North Queensland Cowboys 1995-2014 is available in standard edition hardback ($55/$49 members); and in a limited edition, leatherbound volume with display case ($295), individually numbered and signed by Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Matthew Bowen, Paul Bowman, Aaron Payne and Peter Jones.

Available now:

  • Cowboys HQ, 1300SMILES Stadium, Golf Links Drive, Kirwan (standard & limited edition)
  • Cowboys Team Shop, Cowboys Leagues Club, Townsville (standard edition only)
  • Phone orders – call 1300 462 692 (option 1) 
  • Online @