The Lone Ranger: The North Queensland Scud Missiles?

This excerpt from the very first issue of the Cowboys Round Up magazine in 1995 looks back at the early days of 'The Lone Ranger'.

CONTROVERSY surrounding the choice of the name Cowboys has been well and truly laid to rest by record sales of merchandise during the Christmas period.

Cowboys gear sold like reserved grandstand seats at Stockland Stadium as families bought up just about every available jersey, polo shirt, t-shirt and cap in sports stores from Mackay to Cairns and west to Mount Isa.

After a fiery introduction, the name Cowboys has slowly caught on and objections which once filled the Letter to the Editor columns of newspapers throughout the North are now as scarce as the material in assistant coach Harry Bryant’s short shorts.

Cowboys merchandise is now outselling every rival Winfield Cup club with the exception of glamour teams the Brisbane Broncos and the Canberra Raiders – and we haven’t played a game yet!

However, things weren’t always so rosy.

When Kerry Boustead bravely announced that North Queensland’s first Winfield Cup team would be called the Cowboys, there was a widespread uproar.

Most critics claimed the name was “too American”. Alternative suggestions included the Cassowaries, Roos, Emus, Warrigals, Taipans, Redbacks, Brumbies, Bunyips, Cyclones and Scud Missiles. One wag even went so far as to suggest that the team should be Galahs – after the blokes who came up with the name Cowboys.

HAD Rugby Union officials not howled so much, the Cowboys could have been known as the North Queensland Crocodiles.

In early 1990, a function was held in Townsville to announce the results of a survey conducted to gauge support for a North Queensland-based Winfield Cup team.

The guest speaker at the function, one Martin Bella, was photographed wearing a t-shirt bearing a drawing of a crocodile chomping into a rugby league player. The message on the t-shirt screamed: North Queensland Crocs – we’ll eat ‘em.

But after the photo appeared in the Townsville Bulletin the following morning, the rah-rah boys screamed blue murder, claiming the name was already being used by one of their representative teams.

Rather than get offside with rugby purists, the name was dropped. At that stage the odds about Big Marty playing out his career in the North were around 1000:1.

But things fell into place and the best hit-up prop in the game is now a confirmed Croc – sorry, Cowboys.

EVERY sporting team has its pranksters, but the Cowboys seem to have more than their fair share.

My faithful friend and football spy, Tonto, tells me assistant coach Harry Bryant reacted as fast as a speeding bullet after receiving a message to phone Amanda Rynne on a certain number.

Those who know Harry will be aware that the former airport baggage handler is not backward in coming forward when it comes to returning calls, especially when the voice on the other end of the phone is female.

Harry wasted no time in getting on the blower, but was left red-faced – and for once, lost for words – after phoning a local fruit shop and asking for “A mandarin please”.

FORMER Gold Coast Seagull Andrew Whittington has made the record books long before the 1995 Winfield Cup kick-off.

During the fast test conducted by Cowboys strength and fitness coach Steve Nance last year, Andrew (Pudd to his mates) smashed a record by tough prop Sam Backo since his glory days with the Brisbane Broncos.

When Slammin Sam scored 183 in a fat test back in those days, good judges said it would never be beaten.

Put Pudd did it with ease, recording a new high of 199, much to the dismay of Steve and head coach Grant Bell.

Since then, Pudd has put in the hard yakka required to get below the 150 mark, but he still has a long way to go before the opening game against Canterbury on March 11.

“He needs to be down around 100 by then,” Steve said with a gleam in his eye.

ANOTHER played singled out for special treatment late last year was country boy Michael (Forrest Gump) Coorey.

Tonto reports that the Cowboys squad was running along The Strand during an afternoon training session when a dog started chasing the players.

Of the 42 backsides he had to choose from, the canine latched onto Michael’s leaving tell-tale marks on his rear end.

Eye witnesses say they couldn’t work out whether the dog fancied the colour of Michael’s shorts or the shape of his bum.

Fans who want to check for themselves can catch up with Michael at the Townsville Travelodge during working hours.

COWBOYS hooker Dean Schifilliti has a reputation for taking the direct approach.

His incisive runs from dummy-half for Illawarra and South Sydney have stamped him as one of the best number nines in the game.

So it came as no surprise when he took the typical short cut when faced with an off-field problem late last year.

Asked to store about $50,000 worth of equipment in the Railway Estate warehouse rented by the Cowboys, Skiff didn’t mess around. He loaded the gear into a van and headed for the other side of town, only to find the warehouse locked.

Skiff tired the key, but resorted to a hacksaw when it didn’t fit. With all the subtlety of a front row forward at a buffet banquet, he soon had the lock off and started loading the gear into the shed.

All this came as a complete surprise to the owner of the warehouse, who arrived just as Skiff was finishing his task.

Luckily the owner was a footy man and well aware of what can happen to players who pack down in too many scrums.

He directed Skiff to the warehouse next door, the lock on which opened at the mere turn of Skiff’s key.

MY faithful friend Tonto has been reading smoke signals coming from Sydney and reports that the Canterbury Bulldogs are gearing up for a big first-up effort against the Cowboys on March 11.

“The smoke and the drums both say the Bulldogs will be targeting Michael Coorey,” Tonto reports.

Hi Ho Silver,

The Lone Ranger