Jack Martin Award Recipient 2022 – Redcliffe Dolphins Leagues Club
The ascension of the Dolphins to become the 17th club in the National Rugby League is a reward for the combined efforts of the Redcliffe Dolphins League Club over three decades.
It is important to note that this achievement has arrived after the strategic implementation and realization of a plan that extends back to 1988.
The history is simple – when the Brisbane Broncos franchise joined what was then known as the NSW Rugby League, the Dolphins felt they were no longer in the highest possible competition.
This desire to compete at the highest level had always been a key part of the club’s charter.
It is easy to forget that through the 1980s players were routinely representing Queensland in State of Origin and Australia at Test level while playing with the Redcliffe Dolphins club.
In the 1987 Brisbane Rugby League Grand Final against Brothers, the Dolphins had no less than five Test players in the team.
What began as a dream became strategy as the Dolphins went about developing their business to garner the financial strength and infrastructure to prove they could sustain a club in the NRL.
A flashpoint came in 2005 when a Gold Coast consortium won the right to be the 16th team in the NRL and set themselves on becoming known as the Gold Coast Dolphins.
Intent on preserving the emblem they had played under since the 1960s, the Redcliffe Dolphins successfully opposed the use of their intellectual property through legal channels.
The Gold Coast team eventually became known as the Titans of today.
The Redcliffe Dolphins continued with their long-term financial plan to diversify their business away from simply gaming, adding an aquatic centre, a commercial gymnasium and a shopping centre tenanted by supermarket giant Coles to their property.
They also built their stadium infrastructure, adding nearly 10,000 seats and two new female-compliant dressing rooms in two separate renovations of their spiritual home, Dolphin Oval.
In 2020 the NRL announced they would be adding a 17th team to the NRL that would be situated in south-east Queensland.
It pitted the Dolphins against three other bids in the area, but the vision the club had shown to building their financial strength and the boxes they ticked in the areas of infrastructure, history and through establishing game development pathways made them an almost certainty to win the bid.
The Dolphins then set about promoting their bid and addressing the criteria set down by the NRL to ensure they would be awarded the right to be the 17th club of the NRL.
This was confirmed on October 13, 2021 when the NRL announced the Dolphins would join the NRL for the season 2023.
The club set about on their 12-month runway to get an NRL team up and running, another vision that has now become a reality with the commencement of pre-season training in the first week of November.