Blackall Magpies best sporting club in Australia

2019 Clubbies award for best in Australia goes to Blackall Magpies


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Magpies players John Hauff and captain Andrew Russell admiring the 2019 Clubbies trophy.

Magpies players John Hauff and captain Andrew Russell admiring the 2019 Clubbies trophy.

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Last year the Blackall Magpies rugby league club was celebrating the news that it was the NRL Grassroots Club of the Year - now it can say it is the best sporting club in the whole of Australia.

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Last year the Blackall Magpies rugby league club was celebrating the news that it was the NRL Grassroots Club of the Year - now it can say it is the best sporting club in the whole of Australia.

Before a crowd of hundreds at Sydney's Tattersall's Club last week and amid cheers and tears for the story of endurance and mateship they had to tell, club officials Philip 'Flop' Rooney and Hector Heumiller accepted the 2019 Sportscover Clubbies Award as the best club in the nation.

It was one of over 1000 nominated nationwide for eight awards, representing a huge range of sports from calisthenics and bowls to cricket and swimming and everything in between.

The awards are in their third year and are run by Nextmedia, which publishes a range of sporting publications including Inside Sport, and the Confederation of Australian Sport.

Nextmedia's head of sport Kevin Airs said legends of the sport got celebrated all the time but the awards aimed to reward the unsung local heroes that are the backbone of communities around the country.

"It was the hardest thing to judge - the competition was so fierce, the standard so high," he said.

"The over-riding thing in Blackall's favour was that the club was bigger than the club.

"The stronger the bond between a sporting club and the community, the stronger the community.

"And that takes dedication by a lot of unsung heroes."

Proud Blackall Magpies team members last Saturday following the announcement to their home crowd that they were the top sporting club in the country.

Proud Blackall Magpies team members last Saturday following the announcement to their home crowd that they were the top sporting club in the country.

The Blackall Magpies' story - of being a beacon of hope and inspiration for a struggling community in the middle of a ravaging drought, and winning their first premiership in 30 years - was well documented as it stepped its way through to being the NRL Grassroots Club of the Year in 2018.

The crowd in Sydney heard it had "more than survived without a clubhouse, pokies or major sponsors".

"Despite it being tough going, the community-focused club has taken part in anti-Ice campaigns and raised funds for breast cancer awareness and suicide prevention," the citation said. "There's no doubt that Blackall loves its Magpies and so does Clubbies."

It continued that track record a fortnight ago, staging its annual charity day, this year for Heart of Australia, and auctioning players' specially commissioned jerseys after the game.

A close-up view of the 2019 Clubbies Best Club trophy.

A close-up view of the 2019 Clubbies Best Club trophy.

Queensland Rugby League chief operating officer Rohan Sawyer was in town to review the club's operations at the same time.

President Flop Rooney said footy had been a life saver both for the young men who played and the community that supported them.

"After spending the week on the farm having to shoot their own stock, it is good to come into town on the weekend and catch up with mates at the footy and forget the week."

A record 12,400 votes were cast for the 2019 awards and honourable mentions for the best club award went to Beyond Grappling, judo (ACT); and Ned Flanders XI, cricket (Qld).

Halfway through the 2019 central west playing season, the Magpies sit undefeated at the top of the ladder and have taken to social media with the hashtag #swoopingseason

Related: How the Magpies' win unfolded

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