With a city that boasts a soccer history that dates back to the late 1800s, Ipswich and the western corridor’s soccer heritage can lay claim to being one of the oldest in the State of Queensland, Australia. Likewise does the linkage between these early clubs and the current main stream clubs as it stands today.
Although Bundamba and Blackstone have both claimed to be Ipswich’s first soccer clubs, the first recorded soccer match in Ipswich took place on North Ipswich Reserve on the 26th June 1886. This was played under the Anglo-Queensland rules with the contesting teams being the Rovers of Bundamba and the Queenslanders of this city ‘Ipswich’.
The Dinmore Bush Rats were formed in 1888 with the Bundamba Rangers being formed in 1894 and their first game being played on Saturday 19th May.
It was also in the 1894 period that Montes, Booval Enterprises and Fernvale were formed. Booval Enterprises later changed their name to the Booval Stars in 1902. The club disappeared just after World War 2 (1946) and the ground was sold to the Booval Swifts Rugby League Club in 1950. St Helens were formed prior to World War 1 and the date believed to be the formation is 1912.
In 1922 Ipswich’s Alex Gibb was selected captain of the first ever Australian international men’s team, selected to play New Zealand. Gibb is officially recognised as Australia’s first international captain and was retrospectively awarded cap number 1 by Football Federation Australia.
In subsequent years further Ipswich players became Australian internationals: Bob Lawrie, Gordon (Bunny) Nunn, Lex Gibb, Redvis (Fat) Kitching, Col Kitching, Spencer Kitching, Cliff Sander, Duncan McKenna, Graham Kathage, Les McCrea, Al Warren, Normie Rule, Graham Kruger, Ross Kelly, Brian Vogler, Gary Wilkins and Ian Johnston.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, dramatic changes were about to impact Ipswich soccer with the growing number of ethnic Brisbane clubs ready to spend up on Ipswich talent and in turn give birth to professionalism in Queensland soccer.
With a loss of State and National experience, the Ipswich power-house clubs that had dominated Queensland soccer for so long were now feeling the pinch and began to struggle. The Dinmore Bushrats were the first club to go and they merged with Redbank. Redbank later merged with St Helens in 1966 to form St Helens United. Blackstone Rovers and Bundamba Rangers amalgamated in 1964 to form Coalstars. After both St Helens United and Coalstars experienced success, their final amalgamation eventually took place in 1997 to form the Ipswich Knights.
By this stage Ipswich had already become a force in football with the growing presence of other large successful soccer clubs including the Ipswich City Bulls, Camira and Goodna Soccer Clubs. Goodna merged with Camira and formed what is now one of the largest football clubs in Ipswich, Western Spirit.
Between the 1980 and the turn of the century the highest-profile players from Ipswich were a trio of Matildas: Belinda Kitching, Michelle Sawyers and Kaylene Janssen.
In more recent times Coalstars junior Neil Kilkenny went on to play for the Socceroos plus Birmingham City in the English Premier League, while former Ipswich Knights player Bryony Duus played for the Matildas.