By JEFF STEPHENSON
THE Dowling family is far removed from the aristocratic House of Windsor, which has ruled over the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms since 1917, but it is clearly the closest thing to royalty at the Redland Football Club.
The patriarch, Arthur Ernest Dowling, was the first president and obviously the driving force behind the club’s formation.
His wife, Alma, worked for the club in a variety of roles and supported her husband’s every move to do with football.
Their children have been handed the mantle and have carried it with distinction in every facet of football – so much so some are still heavily involved in the fate and fortunes of the club that has played a vital and pivotal role in their respective lives.
It can never be over-stated how clubs such as Redland owe their continuing existence to such community-minded souls as those presented by the Dowlings.
While Arthur – he’s more readily known as Ern – set the thing in motion, it has been the steadfast efforts of his son Noel (the club’s patron) and daughter-in-law Barbara who have been unstinting in their efforts to help the football club continue to flourish.
So, let’s move on to the present day.
We’ve learned a bit about Ern and now it’s time to acclaim Barb.
She is one of only 10 Legends inducted into the Redland Football Club Hall of Fame, joining Ern and Alma, among others, in recognition of their outstanding service.
Barb’s journey also started “back in the day.”
It was nothing unusual on a Saturday morning to see her ferry a bunch of aspiring juniors to their matches or to see her and Noel back in those early days walking around the ground after a match cleaning up rubbish that had been left behind.
“It was my exercise back then,” she says.
But it has been her work with Pam Tobiasen in charge of the weekly Wednesday bingo that has helped consolidate them into the unconditional superstardom status they hold and the reverence they are afforded within the club.
Pam – also a Hall of Fame Legend – has been at the bingo helm for 41 consecutive years.
She was joined by Barb 39 years ago and the pair have since evolved into a powerful force raising many thousands of dollars for the club and becoming an institution in the process.
The bingo regularly attracts more than 100 people and some of them have been attending for as long as Pam and Barb have shared the calling.
“It’s even been a generational thing as time has gone on,” Barb says.
“I’ve loved doing it and I can’t see it ending any time in the foreseeable future,” she said of her continuing involvement.
“We’ve had people share their birthdays with us – one lady celebrated her 100th – and we always make sure there is a cake to mark the occasion.
“We’ve really had some fun times over the years.
“We’ve become a real little family and the bingo has become a social hub for so many that they really couldn’t do without it.
“It’s made Pam and I both feel so proud.
“We’ve got such wonderful people coming along each week and the support we get from them is amazing.
“People are really lovely you know.
“But it wouldn’t be the same without us two, either,” she suggested semi-seriously, but with just a dash of mischievousness at the same time.
The club is hugely indebted to them for their efforts as the money raised goes a long way towards enabling the Bombers to play at the elite level they are now playing in on a week-to-week basis.
Barb was always a “sports nut” and after marrying Noel it provided each of them with a genuine lock to their relationship.
She recalls the time their son played his first game.
“He was only five and Pop (Ern) came over and asked would we let Bruce play in the under 8s as they were really short.
“We said yes and that was that.
“There was a cricket pitch on the ground covered with sand during the footy season and we did see him and one or two others building sand castles at one stage.
“But that was the start.
“It’s funny because he went back to the Under 7s the next year after playing the Under 8s the year before.”
Bruce went on to play more than 300 games (senior and junior) with Redland including in the acclaimed 1987 premiership when they downed Redcliffe 16.14 (110) to 8.10 (58).
Now, let’s wind the clock back some years and see how Arthur Ernest Dowling made his formidable imprint with Redland in the first place and how his offspring carried on the tradition so successfully.
He and Alma have the bottom sporting fields at Victoria Point named after them and the club’s best and fairest is obviously the Dowling Medal.
It dawned on Ern in 1966 as the new footy season approached that sport in the Redlands was disorganised and haphazard.
Another son, Denis, played with Morningside and when the QAFL moved to divide Brisbane up between clubs Coorparoo was allocated most of the suburbs from which Morningside sourced its players.
Ern had played some good football himself with Footscray reserves in the VFL and then Yarraville before making the transition to Queensland where he was a star player with South Brisbane.
He met with Arch Bligh and Charlie King from Morningside and all of them agreed there was an opportunity for a start-up club and it was then, in 1967, that the Victoria Point Sharks Australian Football Club was born.
In 1970 the club changed its name to Victoria Point Redland AFC and in 1972 another name change took place and the club was now known as Redland Australian Football Club.
When Denis finished playing, he took on the presidency for four years from 1983-86 and was secretary for another and he too, is a Legend among the Hall of Famers.
Another son, Len, joined Noel with upkeep of the playing grounds and the surrounds and they played important roles in the expansion of the club to its present site.
Ern’s daughter Bev was the original Bingo organiser with Pam – Barb replaced Bev – and Ern’s granddaughter Lisa married Shane Campbell who coached Redland for five years from 1995-99 leading the club to South Queensland Football Association Division One premierships in 1998-99.
Redland defeated Wilston Grange 27.13 (175) to Wilston Grange 9.8 (62) and in 1989 went back-to-back downing Noosa 13.10 (88) to 8.11 (59).
Lisa made her presence further felt when she became the first woman president of the club serving in the capacity in 1995, 96 and 99.
What a connection!
What a contribution!
We can’t finish yet without mentioning the young’uns.
It goes without saying Ern’s great grandsons – Jarrod Campbell and Tyson Dowling – were also bitten by the bug and played with the Sharks juniors.
It also goes without saying Ern and Alma would be one very happy and very proud couple if they were alive today to see the Dowling name still linked strongly with the club and the game they held so dearly.