Allen Martindale "Butcher" Oxlade
- 57Wallaby Number
In Viewless Winds, Herbert Moran said of Allen Oxlade: “In the front row [of Queensland] was a small, tough little player named Oxlade, nick-named ‘Butcher’. He was very combative and very courageous, holding his own with men three, four, and five stone heavier. In later life he became as broad as he was long, and died a city alderman of Brisbane.” One reporter said he was build like a pony, but was a strong as a horse, another called him “Terror Forward.” ‘Butcher’ started his rugby career in Sydney with Norths in 1900, but went back to Queensland and played for Norths there for six successive seasons from 1902, and again in 1912. Among the Norths (Queensland) players when Oxlade joined them were such greats as Lonnie Spragg, Austin Gralton, Edgie Dore, Charlie Freestone and Bertie St John, the remarkable one-armed athlete from Rockhampton. Bertie St John, was also Queensland champion in tennis. Toombul and Norths, in the Brisbane competition, always seemed to have rough games and Ian Diem wrote in ‘Red! Red! Red’: “Team- mate Harry Green wrote Allen Oxlade will ‘take as much as you can give and don’t forget he will pay back.’ Known as ‘Butcher’ because he carved up his opponents, he was punched by Toombul centre Fred Cleeve, whereupon Oxlade kicked him and was sent off by Charles Campbell. Oxlade was subsequently suspended and missed the southern tour.”
It was from 1904 to 1907 that his career reached its peak. His first appearance against an international team was for Queensland in 1903 against NZ. There were other famous Queenslanders in the team: Charlie Redwood, Doug McLean, Mick Dore, Lew Evans, Austin Gralton, Billy Richards and Frank Nicholson among them. The New Zealanders had more than their share of legends, with Billy Wallace, Opai Asher, Billy Stead, Duncan McGregor, Lofty Armstrong and Archie McMinn. New Zealand was much too strong in the match, beating the locals by 17 to 0. In 1904 ‘Butcher’ came into his own, and despite his small size he became an indispensable part of Queensland and Australian teams. This was the year of ‘Darkie’ Bedell-Sivright’s Great Britain side, which included some all-time Welsh greats such as Percy Bush, Rhys Gabe, Willie Llewellyn and Tommy Vile. Blair Swannell, who was on the 1899 tour, was the only British player to repeat tours, and he would stay on and play in and for Australia. Oxlade’s debut Test was against Great Britain on 23 July 1904 at the Ehibition Ground, Brisbane. It was a 3 to 17 loss. The Australian team on that day was Jack Verge, Charlie Redmond, Doug McLean, Phil Carmichael, Stan Wickham (capt.), John Manning, Reg Baker, Alex McKinnon, Pat Walsh, Tom Colton, Harold Judd, Dennis Lutge, Alex Burdon, Butcher Oxlade and Voy Oxenham. Herbert Moran did not mix words when speaking of Swannell. In Viewless Winds he said Swannell “was, for a number of years, a bad influence in Sydney football... His conception of Rugby was one of trained violence.” It must have been something when Oxlade and Swannell faced one another in following years.
In 1904, then, Oxlade would play twice for Queensland and twice for Australia. His play made him a certainty for Australia’s first-ever tour of NZ. Some Queenslanders on that tour felt that they were discriminated against by the selectors, but Oxlade was one of only five who played in every match. No team came to Australia in 1906, so Oxlade had to wait until Jimmy Hunter’s team from NZ came to resume his international career. He was not picked in the first Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and only three Queenslanders, Phil Carmichael, George Watson and Peter Flanagan, were selected. It was a crazy selection procedure, as Australia had two selectors, James McMahon of Sydney and ‘Poley’ Evans of Brisbane, and it was decided that the local man would have the casting vote. Hence when the Brisbane Test team was announced there were seven Queenslanders selected, and ‘Butcher’ Oxlade was captain. The current Queensland captain was Billy Richards, who was also on the Australian team, but it was Oxlade who would lead the team. New Zealand won by 14 points to 5, despite the presence of luminaries such as Dally Messenger, ‘Boxer’ Russell, Peter Burge and Peter Flanagan.
This was the end of Oxlade’s footballing days, as he travelled for Hofnungs in the north of Queensland for some four years and then joined Oxlade Brothers in Brisbane, a family painting firm. Rugby ended in Queensland out of respect for the first World War, and was not renewed in the north to 1929. This 1929 team was called “The Revivalists”. A New Zealand team captained by the immortal Cliff Porter came that year and the second Test was held in Brisbane. Ian Diehm reported in Red! Red! Red!: “The match attracted giants of other days. Among the crowd were Bob McCowan, Phil Carmichael, Tom Welsby, ‘Poley’ Evans, ‘Doey’ Tanner, Jack Walsh, Jimmy Flynn, Charlie Redwood, ‘Bluey’ Thompson, Fred Lea and Alderman Allen Oxlade, known as the ‘Terror forward’. When the All Black forward Ruben McWilliams buried little Australian halfback Sydney Malcolm, the hugely rotund Oxlade burst forth with, ‘I’d have got McWilliams for that!’” ‘Butcher’ Oxlade was the third Queenslander to captain his country.