SPORTING HISTORY: John Barrett (centre) has over 60 years of connection to rugby league, and now QRL are hoping to preserve his memorabilia collection.

Picture: Contributed
SPORTING HISTORY: John Barrett (centre) has over 60 years of connection to rugby league, and now QRL are hoping to preserve his memorabilia collection. Picture: Contributed

Decades of work could go on permanent show

RUGBY LEAGUE:Since 1959, John Barrett has had some kind of involvement in his favourite sport. Starting out as a 15-year-old playing in Warwick, Barrett made the move to St George in 1967 where he began the beginning of his lifelong involvement with the Saints.

"I started out playing with the club, and then I took on roles as a coach and club secretary," he said.

"I was president for 18 years, then I got involved in the Roma and District League and ended up as chairman of the South West Division of the QRL, that was for 14 years, and I've been on the board for QRL and the NRL as well.

"I guess you could say I've been pretty actively involved in the club for about 50 years."

Throughout the decades, Barrett has dedicated time to compiling an impressive memorabilia collection, made up of more than 300 team photos, trophies, medals, jerseys, and a variety of other items.

"When I came out here, the memorabilia had been destroyed in a fire the year before, so very little history had survived," he said.

"I started assembling team photos, which then developed into media reports and programs, not just on a local level but throughout Queensland, New South Wales, and Australia.

"We had reunions in 1979, '89, and '99 and we were gradually able to assemble a fair variety of items. I retired in 2013 and I've spent most of my time since cataloguing and sorting everything into some sort of order.

"The Old Boys group raised money to get me a beautiful shipping container than holds all the items I display at Rowden Park.

"I've got over 300 photos of teams alone, a lot of other photos. I've read every media report from the Balonne Beacon over the last 100 years, trophies, medals, documents about rugby league not just in town, but throughout the state."

Last week Barrett received a visit from Arthur Eustace-Earle, Darren Schooth and Steve Ricketts, all of the Queensland Rugby League.

"Steve is chairman of the QRL history committee, and we're interested in how we can get John's memorabilia on display, so Steve came out to have a look at it," Manager of Government relations Eustace-Earle said. "He sees collections quite regularly, but his view was that John had something really special here. So we're working on a bit of a project on how we can get it out there and viewed, and how we can capture John's oral history."

Barrett has received many visits from QRL and NRL dignitaries over the years, and every time is humble to showcase his pride and joy.

"The collection I have here, a lot of it I acquired myself, but it belongs to the game of rugby league.

"If it can benefit the community on a much wider level, then I would love that."


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