Michael Joseph (Mick, Mickey) Dore
Australia Rugby Union(1 Test 1905)
Queensland Rugby Union (23 Matches 8 Captain)
Queensland Rugby League (2 Official Matches)
The diminutive Michael (Mick, Mickey) Joseph Dore was an early star of both codes of Rugby in Queensland during his brief life. A clever halfback renowned for his skills and bravery in defense Dore was a stalwart of the North Brisbane Rugby club and Queensland Rugby Union sides between 1903 and 1907. However, Dore was instrumental in the establishment of the professional Rugby code in Queensland following the 1907 defection of several New South Wales Rugby representative players to the newly formed League. This was a divisive move. Following his switch to the Rugby League Dore became one of the first players to be banned from Union for life in Queensland and he died a few short years later in 1910 after a illness he contracted whilst playing Rugby League.
Mick Dore was born in Brisbane on 29 May 1882, to the Irish immigrants Robert John and Sarah (née Creagan) Dore. His parents had migrated to Australia with their first three children aboard the Sir William Wallace, arriving in Rockhampton in March 1880 and then settled in Brisbane, initially at Kangaroo Point and later at Spring Hill. Dore’s father Robert joined the police force in Brisbane and eventually his family swelled to include ten children in the family. Of Mick’s siblings both Edmund (Eddie), born in Ireland, and Vince played Rugby Union and League. Like his brothers, Mick attended St. Joseph’s Christian Brothers’ College, Gregory Terrace, from 1896.
Following his matriculation Dore joined the North Brisbane Rugby Union club where he played alongside his brother Eddie. Although Eddie made his A-Grade debut before him, Mickey joined him a year later in 1902, and on one weekend Eddie and Mick played A-Grade together against Valley and younger brother Vince scored a try for Gregory Terrace against the Valley school also. It was Mick who could claim the honor of being the first in his family to gain representative honors when he was selected to the Queensland second XVI for a trial match against the Queensland first XV in 1902. However, he was not selected to the full Queensland side for any of the matches interstate or international played that year.
After a slow start to the 1903 season, Mick, was not selected in the club’s A-grade side against South Brisbane early in May, Dore rose to eventually become a fixture in the side at halfback. Just one week after missing out on A-Grace selection, Dore’s combination with legendary Queensland hooker, and one of his brother’s frontrow rivals, Allen ‘Butcher’ Oxlade was being lauded in the local press as one of the most impressive in Brisbane club Rugby, with the pair winning “the balls from the scrum …every time” in a match against Valley. Dore’s stellar form was rewarded with representative honors. Although “one of the smallest footballers ever to play for Queensland” Dore was forced to play in the centers in the second interstate match against New South Wales in 1903 because of injuries suffered by a number of leading backs in Queensland. His play, in a losing side, was so impressive that selectors moved him to the more important position of halfback for the third and final match of the interstate series that year. To top off a successful season Mick and his brother Eddie were part of North Brisbane’s 1903 premiership winning side.
Dore continued his club career in 1904 with North Brisbane and his form saw him rewarded with selection in the Queensland side to play the visiting Englishmen. Press reports commented favorably on Dore’s combination with Phil Carmichael and his general backline play against the visiting side. Although Queensland were soundly defeated by the visitors by 24-0 in front of 16,000 spectators Dore was named at halfback for the representative Brisbane side’s match against the visitors on the following Wednesday. In these matches Dore was joined by his brother Eddie and fellow Gregory Terrace Old Boys Phil Carmichael and Anslem ‘Voy’ Oxenham. However, Dore’s form did not warrant selection in the Australian test team for the 1904 series and he suffered a further setback to his representative career when he was not selected for the second Queensland versus England match of 1904 with test five-eight Lew Evans instead preferred at scrum half.
Again Dore’s play in Brisbane club rugby with North Brisbane was of a high standard in 1905 and he found himself selected for both Brisbane and Queensland representative sides in matches against the New South Welshmen and for the Metropolitan side which played country during Brisbane’s country week carnival. For the opening of the 1905 interstate season Dore was selected along with fellow Terrace Old Boys Phil Carmichael, Voy Oxenham, Jack Fihelley, and Peter Flannagan for the match against New South Wales. Dore’s brother Eddie had been transferred away from Brisbane because of his police duties. Although Queensland was soundly beaten in the interstate series Dore was one of 9 Queenslanders chosen to tour New Zealand with the Australian Rugby Union team in 1905. It was on this tour that Dore made his one and only Rugby Union Test Match appearance when he was selected at halfback for the Dunedin test won by the home side 14-3. Although this was his only test match, the fact that Dore was selected for the match on a tour that was beset with acrimonious interstate rivalries that saw state based partisanship plague test selections is a testament to his skill and respect among his rugby peers.
Dore returned to club Rugby at North Brisbane for the 1906 and 1907 seasons and he was again selected to represent Brisbane and Queensland. There were no international tests in 1906 and Dore was overlooked for all three tests of the 1907 season against the visiting New Zealand All Blacks. In all Dore played for his state a remarkable 23 times between 1903 and 1907 including 8 appearances as captain. Despite his pint-sized stature, during his Rugby career it was written of him that “[f]ew half-backs are better, in either skill or gameness. He would try to stop a train.” Throughout his Rugby career he worked as a saddler’s clerk.
Professional Rugby began in Australia in 1907 when a New South Wales teams was selected to play the professional New Zealand “All Golds” on their way to England for a series of matches against the professional Northern Union. Although the three matches were not as commercially successful as promoters hoped, there were continued moves by business J.G. Giltnan and former test cricketer and sports store proprietor Victor Trumper to establish a professional League in Sydney. Although Dore was not initially approached to join the rebel code, with the arrival of the New Zealand ‘All-Golds’ on their return from the of Great Britain a hastily arranged match between NSW and Queensland representative sides was arranged to chose an Australian side to play the touring New Zealanders in 1908. Although Queensland lost the match decisively, Dore and his teammates Jack Fihelly and Bob Taubman were chosen to represent Australia in the first Rugby League Test match between the two sides. Souring Dore’s achievement was some derision among the Sydney media that the Queensland players were token inclusions who weakened the national side.
Dore took the field in the first test at the Sydney Royal Agricultural grounds on 9 May 1908 won by the visitors 11-10 in front of a crowd of 20,000. Following this match the All-Golds traveled to Queensland where they defeated a Queensland representative side, dubbed the ‘Pioneers’, by a score of 34-12 on 16 May; Dore played halfback for the Pioneers and was joined by his fellow test debutants . The three Queenslanders from the first test side were named in the second test and Australia was defeated again by the All-Golds by 34-12 on 30 May 1908 at Brisbane Exhibition Grounds in front of 6000 curious spectators. Both matches were played under Union rules as none of the players had yet had time to familiarize themselves with the rules of the ‘Northern Union’ as league was then known.
Although Dore was not selected in the third match that Australia won he went on to become “one of the leading lights in the professional code during its infancy” in Queensland and Australia. As one of the first Rugby players to switch to the new professional code in 1907 Dore was also one of the first players expelled by the Queensland Rugby Union for professionalism following the first interstate match against New South Wales. Undeterred by this sanction Dore became a founding member of the Queensland Rugby League and an ardent and enthusiastic participant in the new code. He was listed as playing for a variety of clubs as well as acting as a match referee and coach. His enthusiasm for the new game was evident during a match between Toombul and a Combined XIII during which Dore both coached the Combined XIII and refereed the match.
The 1908 season saw Dore’s impact on the new code in Queensland continue and aside from being a member of the QRL he was the second most capped representative League player in Queensland for the season, playing 10 times against a variety of opponents. In a bid to garner support for the new code touring teams from NSW, New Zealand, and an All-Maori selection toured Queensland in 1908, and although the home side had little success, Dore and his fellow Terrace Old Boy and QRL member Jack Fihelly were regulars in the Queensland team. Dore’s success as a League player was evident. A newspaper article of 1908 stated the he “has been guaranteed a trip to England with the Australian professional team and in consequence, has applied for and has been granted, eight months leave from the Railway Department.” Unfortunately, Dore later declared himself unavailable for the tour due to work commitments.
Although a number of other Union luminaries converted to the professional game, including reports of Dore’s brother Eddie, the parent code did not suffer tremendously in Brisbane because the lure of payment was not assured to players in Brisbane as it was in Sydney. This lack of money meant it is probable that Dore made very little financial gain from his switch of codes. Dore however remained committed to the professional code. When an injury prevented him from playing, Dore acted frequently as a referee; along with his role as state selector and coach of several teams around Brisbane. During this period he married Margaret Josephine Guilfoyle in Brisbane on 31 December 1907 and continued to work for the Railway department.
Dore’s life came to an untimely end on 13 August 1910 “after a lingering illness” at his father’s house in Spring Hill. He was only 27 years old. Dore’s brother Eddie blamed his younger sibling’s death on pneumonia aggravated by exhaustion from playing Rugby League in inclement weather in order to help maintain momentum for the new sport and ensure its survival. Mick left an infant son, Vince Dore (b. 17 September 1909), who became a member of the Brothers’ Club and who later emulated his father feats in the amateur code when he played Rugby Union for Queensland in 1933 and 1934. Rugby historian Max Howell argues that Mick Dore’s great legacy to Rugby in Queensland will always remain his “gutsy decision to play ‘northern game’ in defiance of the Brisbane establishment” and thus help establish Rugby League in Queensland.