Vale – Ray Laird
Born 1942 – Passed Away 2019.
Mackay product Ray Laird played fullback for Australia at a time when there was a wealth of talent in the position.
It is to Laird’s credit that he rose to such heights during an era when the likes of Graeme Langlands, Les Johns, Eric Simms, Ken Thornett and Keith Barnes had worn the green and gold.
He played 18 matches for Queensland between 1963 and 1971, scoring two tries and kicking 16 goals. Laird, who first honed his skills with the Mackay Magpies, toured New Zealand with the state side in 1967.
He made his Queensland debut against the touring Kiwi team in 1963 at the age of 22. That same year he also played against South Africa, stamping himself as one of the most exciting and reliable players in the game.
Laird played for Australia in 1970, in the Second Test against Great Britain at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He was chosen from the Rockhampton Railways club to replace the injured Langlands. Britain won the Test 28-7, and Laird was dropped to make way for Sydney Easts’ goal kicking star, Allan McKean.
Both Laird and McKean finished their careers with just the one Test to their name, after Britain clinched the Ashes series in 1970.
Laird’s extensive playing experience in regional areas saw him named in the North Queensland, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba teams of the century. He captained Queensland several times, and was an inspirational figure at the back, directing play and barking orders.
Former Test hooker, John Lang, praised Laird’s captaincy, which he said, resulted in great team harmony, something Lang didn’t always experience when he was on national duty.
Laird passed away peacefully with his wife Betty by his side last Saturday, aged 77.
Ray will be farewelled by family and friends this Friday, February 8, at Whitsundays Funerals Chapel, 209 Shakespeare Street, Mackay, from 11am.
Statistics and words provided by Steve Ricketts, QRL History Committee.