Arthur Henry “Artie” Beetson OAM January 22, 1945 – December 1, 2011

Queenslanders are mourning the loss of rugby league legend, Artie Beetson,  who died of a heart attack on the Gold Coast this morning.

Beetson captained the first Queensland State of Origin team in 1980.  He also coached the side to four series wins in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1989.

His football career began in Redcliffe after he left his hometown of Roma to play in the Brisbane Rugby League competition.

He moved to Sydney and joined Balmain Tigers in the New South Wales Rugby Football League competition.  During his 4-year stint with the Tigers, Beetson made his representative debut for Australia against England where he earned the nickname “half game Artie” for the 40 minutes of mayhem he caused the opposition.

Beetson also played for English rugby league side Hull before joining Eastern Suburbs (1971-1978) where he captained the team in their 1974 and 1975 premierships. He also coached in the late 70s, mid 80s and in 1994.

In the final years of his playing career, Big Artie spent two years with Parramatta before re-joining his old club, the Dolphins, in Redcliffe.

Other notable achievements include:

    • The first Aboriginal person to be named captain of any Australian national sporting team
    • 29 Test and World Cup caps
    • OAM recognising his service to the sport of rugby league
    • Named in Australian rugby league’s 100 greatest players
    • Named in the Australian rugby league team of the century
    • Named in the Queensland rugby league team of the century
    • Named in Indigenous Australian rugby league team of the century
    • Awarded Clive Churchill Medal retrospectively as Man of the Match in the 1974 grand final
    • Recruitment officer for Eastern Suburbs (Sydney Roosters) and Queensland

Dan Rennie caught up with the legend this year ahead of the third game in the 2011 State of Origin in Brisbane.  They spoke about his family and about his first State of Origin game. Listen to the interview.

From all the board and staff at 98.9fm and the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association our sincere condolences to the family, relatives and friends of Artie Beetson.

Thank you for the memories and for your outstanding contribution to rugby league and to First Nations people of Australia.

May he rest in peace.

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