The North Queensland Cowboys have called 1300SMILES Stadium home for 24 years and though she has had a few name changes, her walls have remained the place that fans have flocked to; rain, hail or shine they travel in their thousands to support this team from the North.
It was reported after the final Cowboys home game that an average of 17,000 fans have sat in her seats for home games for over two decades. Considering how far some fans travel to attend home games, that figure is quite extraordinary.
Feeling nostalgic, I penned a piece for the Cowboys that they used as part of their #MilestonesandMemories campaign in the lead up to the final game against the Canterbury Bulldogs on our hollowed turf. As a fan from Sydney, there was never a better feeling for me than stepping off that plane and breathing in the warm air of Townsville, making my way to 1300SMILES Stadium on the bus from the leagues club where I would get to sit with thousands of Cowboys fans and cheer as loudly as I could. Those are the memories of our first home stadium that I will take with me.
Thanks to JT and his cheeky comment after our maiden premiership in 2015, the people of North Queensland and the Cowboys will have an incredible new place to call home from 2020. It is about 75% complete and it looks incredible. I hear it has a capacity of 26,000 and I can not wait for the first home game in 2020 to be there with all my Cowboys friends to start a new era for our club, whilst always remembering where we came from and taking the Cowboys spirit that has lived within the walls of 1300SMILES Stadium with us.
Here is my piece – If these walls could talk – published by the North Queensland Cowboys.