BRL

Prior to 1922, organised competition in Brisbane was amateur and run by Queensland Rugby League. In this period, teams changed so frequently that no two seasons had the same teams. For this reason, we have listed the teams that competed each year below.

(* denotes a team joining for the first time, ** denotes a team-rejoining after being absent)

1909

The first year of league competition was in 1909, and there were only 4 teams:

  • Fortitude Valley (Valleys)
  • North Brisbane
  • South Brisbane
  • Toombul

1910

In 1910, two more teams joined:

  • East Brisbane *
  • Valleys
  • Ipswich *
  • North Brisbane
  • South Brisbane
  • Toombul

1911

The local competition in Ipswich failed to go ahead in 1911, which resulted in a second Ipswich team joining the Brisbane competition. The existing team was referred to as Ipswich A, and the incoming team Ipswich B.

Meanwhile, Fortitude Valley and Toombul merged to form Valley-Toombul. A group of players from the South Brisbane side broke away to form their own team called South Brisbane United.

  • Ipswich A
  • Ipswich B *
  • East Brisbane
  • North Brisbane
  • South Brisbane
  • South Brisbane United *
  • Valley-Toombul (merger of Valleys and Toombul)

1912

  • East Brisbane
  • Kurilpa *
  • Natives *
  • South Brisbane
  • Valley-Toombul
  • Woolloongabba *

1913

  • Natives
  • Railways (possibly a renamed Valley-Toombul * unconfirmed)
  • South Brisbane
  • West End *

The 1913 season ended in controversy. After being defeated by West End in the final, the Natives team were so displeased with the officiating that they demanded a rematch. When none was forthcoming, they left the competition.

1914

  • North Brisbane **
  • South Brisbane
  • Toowong *
  • Valleys **
  • West End
  • Wynnum *

1915

  • Bulimba *
  • Valleys
  • West End
  • Western Suburbs (merger of North Brisbane and Toowong)
  • Woolloongabba **

1916

The start of the 1916 season was delayed, and teams weren't finalised until late May. West End lost over 75% of their players to the war effort, resulting in them being unable to continue. Ipswich again couldn't form a competition with only Starlights and West End able to field teams, so they joined the Brisbane league. It was arranged that they would alternate home games to ensure Ipswich locals would still get a match every Saturday.

Interestingly, there is some conjecture over the departure of Bulimba. Newspaper reports of the day suggested that they had "joined forces" with Valleys, and would continue to participate in the 1916 competition. Shortly before the first round of games commenced, it was intimated in both the Brisbane Daily Standard and the Sydney Referee that it was indeed Bulimba entering the 1916 competition, but that they had decided to run under the name Valleys. In any case, from that point onwards, they were regarded as the same Valleys that won the premiership the previous year.

  • Ipswich Starlights *
  • Ipswich West End *
  • Valleys
  • Wattles *
  • Western Suburbs
  • Woolloongabba

1917

A number of players from the Rugby Union side Christian Brothers defected to league in 1917. They joined under the name Merthyr.

  • Coorparoo (previously Woolloongabba)
  • Merthyr *
  • Valleys
  • Wattles
  • Westerns *
  • Western Suburbs

At some point during the season, Wattles dropped out of the competition.

1918

  • Coorparoo
  • Merthyr
  • Railways **
  • Valleys
  • Westerns
  • Western Suburbs

Western Suburbs was suspended by the league after the end of the season for knowingly fielding an ineligible player in their last round match against Merthyr. This caused headlines at the time, as the player - Albert Johnson - had recently won the City Cup with Wests in Sydney and was considered one of the best halfbacks in the country.

1919

Merthyr joined forces with successful junior side Carltons, who were made up of players originating from local Christian Brothers colleges and had now matured sufficiently to join the senior competition. They opted to register with the name Carltons after holding off a challenge by the local Rugby Union to get them back in their ranks.

Meanwhile, the QRL voted unanimously to lift their suspension on the Western Suburbs before round 1 commenced.

There was great enthusiasm for league leading into 1919 after the success of the previous season. This was furthered by anticipation of the upcoming tour of the New Zealand side, and the return of the Interstate series.

  • Carltons (previously Merthyr)
  • Coorparoo
  • Railways
  • Valleys
  • Western Suburbs
  • West End **

1920

By this time, the continuing success of rugby league had become too great for a number of Rugby Union clubs, who finally bowed to pressure and joined the QRL.

  • Bulimba **
  • Carltons
  • Coorparoo
  • Past Christian Brothers *
  • Past Grammars *
  • Railways
  • University *
  • Valleys
  • West End
  • Western Suburbs

1921

In 1921, the 10 teams were whittled back down to 6.

  • Carltons
  • Coorparoo
  • Past Christian Brothers
  • University
  • Valleys
  • Western Suburbs

This marked the end of the original amateur QRL era.

On the 13th of February, 1922, a group of senior players met to form a committee with the intent to remove non-playing bureaucrats' involvement in running the game. By March, this led to the formation of the Metropolitan Rugby League Players' Association, who then prepared a proposal for the formation of a strictly metropolitan committee to manage the Brisbane competition. This was to be made up of 2 delegates from each club and 2 from the referees' association, effectively handing control over to the teams.

At the Queensland Rugby League annual meeting held on the 28th of March, it was accepted unanimously, and the Brisbane Rugby Football League was born.