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17 January, 2024

Bennett brothers welcomed home to Allora

Saturday afternoon saw rugby league royalty drop in on Allora for the Wayne and Bob Bennett Long Lunch.

Enjoying some schoolboy memories are former St. Joseph’s (now St. Patrick’s) School Allora students and rugby league identities John Cowley, Peter Cavanagh and Wayne Bennett, with the framed tribute auctioned at Saturday’s Bennett Brothers Long Lunch. Photo, Ted Cavanagh

The highly successful function in support of the Allora Regional Sports Museum, saw more than ninety sport tragics fill the historic Commercial Hotel.

Patrons were treated to a sumptuous lunch by Robyn Miles and the Railway Hotel catering team, before soaking up an afternoon of fundraising auctions, footy yarns from all levels of the game and interviews with league legends Wayne and Bob.

There was also an abundance of renewed friendships, the Bennett brothers along with sisters Gretta and Michelle all having experienced their early lives in the Allora area.

Former award-winning journalist and author, as well as a rugby league Test and interstate referee Bernie Pramberg, volunteered his services interviewing Bob and Wayne, before being interviewed somewhat unexpectedly himself by event MC Mark Mason. 

The Long Lunch was originally scheduled for early November, but an unfortunate double booking within Wayne Bennett’s busy schedule saw the function adjusted to Saturday, thanks to the effort of Wayne, organisers and Museum supporters.

Allora Regional Sports Museum President Perry Cronin is overwhelmed by the success of the fundraising event. 

“We continue to be amazed and very grateful for people’s generosity.

“It was also wonderful on Saturday to welcome many people who have supported the Museum over the past 26 years, enjoying all that was on offer in the Bennett brother’s celebration.”

Warwick businessman Steve Miller finished on top of the auction for a framed Wayne Bennett collector’s item tribute, while Southern Downs Regional Councillor Sheryl Windle is the proud owner the of a framed memento of the Long Lunch that included autographs of all who attended.

Mr Cronin was also grateful to Robyn Miles of the Railway and Commercial Hotels for a donation of nine new footballs to be autographed and auctioned, and to former Queensland league representative Doug Muir who donated shirts for the event.

Aside from the Bennett brothers’ company, the afternoon also saw a special celebration with the 70th Wedding Anniversary of Mr and Mrs John O’Connor, John a former Allora Rugby League Club team premiership winner, a close friend and mentor of Wayne Bennett.

Special recognition was issued also to Mr O’Connor’s three triplet sisters about to celebrate their 94th birthdays - Betty, Joan and Joy.

While recollections of past footy glory on and off the field flowed freely in the Commercial Hotel, locally based former Queensland league representative John Cowley, half century rugby league administrator Peter Cavanagh and one of the men of the moment Wayne Bennett all cut their footy teeth as youngsters on the turf of at St. Joseph’s School (now St. Patrick’s) at Allora as same year students.

- Glyn Rees

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