Mitchell Biddulph, PJ Hunt, Mannu Hunt and Mitchell Leard-Lamont from Barcaldine Under 14s.

Spirit of the Outback

This is a story of dedication and epitomises the spirit of the players and parents from the Queensland outback. 

Last August, the Barcaldine Under 14s were playing their Grand Final against Winton. The final was scheduled for Winton, a distance of 285kms from home.

A slight problem for the Barcaldine team was that four players, Mitchell Biddulph, PJ Hunt, Mannu Hunt and Mitchell Leard-Lamont (pictured) were in Canberra for a school camp. Having reserves is sometimes a luxury in bush footy so there was no way the boys were going to let their team mates down on such an important day. 

The Grand Final journey started in Canberra on the Friday afternoon at 2pm. They travelled by bus to Sydney Airport, a distance of 283kms over three and a half hours.

They boarded a plane in Sydney at 7pm and arrived in Rockhampton at 9.30pm. A distance of 1,450kms and travel time of two and a half hours.

The bus then left Rockhampton at 10.30pm and after 270kms on the road they arrived in Emerald at 1.30am on Saturday morning.

While this was happening two very dedicated dads, David Biddulph and Phil Hunt jumped in the car 309kms away in Barcaldine and set off on the three hour trip the meet the bus in Emerald. 

The well-executed plan then sees the boys jump straight off the bus and in to the waiting cars for the return journey to Barcaldine. Without a hitch they arrive back in 'Barcy' at 5am.

With plenty of time up their sleeves the boys have a quick shower and some breakfast before jumping back in the cars for the short 285km trip to Winton. They are of course eagerly awaiting the chance to re-unite with their Grand Final team mates. 

They arrive at the grounds at 9am with plenty of time to spare before the 11am Grand Final kick-off time.

In total the boys (families) spent 22 hours in buses, cars and planes and covered a distance of 3,191kms to play a game of footy in Outback Queensland.

The end result... let's just say the 285km journey back to Barcaldine was a sweet one. The achievement of being there on Grand Final day was a great one, but in the boys eyes, coming home with the Under 14 premiership was even greater.

Has there been a greater sense of dedication and commitment by a group of 13 year-olds and their parents? I am sure the team will remember their 2014 Grand Final forever. 

This article first appeared on qrl.com.au