Passionate Cowboys member Kate Cornish on the memories of 1300SMILES Stadium ahead of Cowboys v Bulldogs.
We have an exciting future ahead and an incredible new stadium to look forward to in 2020. With that excitement and anticipation in mind we must never forget the road that has led us to our new stadium.
It was the dream of the original Cowboys, who dared to believe that North Queensland could deliver a team that could win a premiership. It took us 20 seasons and a whole lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears from players, staff and fans who would simply not give up.
The stories that could be pulled from those walls are the ones that the club was founded on, and the ones that will live on long after we have said goodbye.
She knows more about the Cowboys than anyone.
Stockland Stadium, Malanda Stadium, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 1300SMILES Stadium... whatever this stadium has been called over the years, one thing has always remained the same – it has been our home turf for 24 seasons.
Located in Townsville, North Queensland, the beating heart of our great club, this stadium has been there for us through the good, the bad and the exceptional.
We have watched records break within her walls, and fans have packed her grounds to capacity.
We have welcomed new Cowboys into her sanctum, and she helped us say goodbye to our favourites.
We've cried together and roared loudly from our vantage points; we have ridden the wave of success here and have felt the brunt of hard knocks.
She has been our dining table, where our family meets to catch up after a long, hard week – she is a safe place that feels like home.
Cowboys fans know a thing or two about travel and since 1995 they have made the pilgrimage to this ground to watch their team play the rivals from 'down south'.
Fans remember their first game at the stadium, recalling the thunderous cheer arising from the belly of the crowd as their Cowboys were called out on to the field.
They reminisce about how they all rose as one when a Matty Bowen try was scored and the collective slump of a heartbreaking loss.
In 2019, after 24 seasons, we will play our last home game at what has been our fortress.
Her capacity has been tested on several occasions, and we have asked a lot of her at times (all three record breaking games have been against our fierce rivals, the Broncos).
Never complaining, she put on a great show.
Her bones have endured unfathomable heat that would have broken many, and she has withstood the barrage of cyclone season.
She has felt nerves from players on debut pulse through her walls and has sensed the finality of those running down her tunnel to the roar of the crowd and closing their lockers for the last time.
She has heard every colourful half-time spray and passionate plea from our coaches over the years and has listened to the captain's address and the emotional farewell speeches.
She has celebrated in the sheds after a victorious win and sat speechless with the boys in times of loss.
But we are not quite done with her yet. We still have one more home game to thank her for the last 24 years, and we'll send her out in style.
The Cowboys play their final regular season game at 1300SMILES Stadium against the Bulldogs on Thursday 29 August, 2019.