Charles Edward Joseph Redwood
- 42Wallaby Number
Charlie Redwood was the most prominent member of rugby’s ‘Darling Downs Redwoods’ – which also included his brother Leo and cousin, Percy Redwood – who all represented Queensland in the early 1900s. Another brother, Vernon, became mayor of Toowoomba. Charlie was born at Bleinheim, Marlborough, New Zealand, on 19 May 1878, one of 15 children to Charles and Mary Elizabeth (née Grimstone). His father, CharlesRedwood (1837-1915), had been the member of New Zealand’s Provincial Council for Lower Wairau and migrated to Queensland in 1897 with his wife and several of his children, including the 19-year-old Charlie. The move was prompted by economic depression in New Zealand and entrepreneurial opportunities in Queensland.
The Redwoods were prominent in New Zealand: Charles Senior’s brother, Francis Redwood (1839-1935), was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington, and another brother, Henry, was called the “father of New Zealand turf” for his contribution to horse racing. Before coming to Queensland, young Charlie attended St Patrick’s College, Wellington, in 1893. In Toowoomba, he joined the family malting business along with several of his brothers, and became a maltster by profession; their father, an expert maltster, had established Redwood’s Maltings in Toowoomba on his arrival. The Redwoods, who were instrumental in developing the malting industry on the Darling Downs, successfully encouraged Downs' farmers to grow and harvest barley for malting. Charlie first played rugby in New Zealand but began his Australian football career in Toowoomba for the Woombas Club.
He quickly gained a reputation as “the infallible Redwood” because of his running and tackling strengths. He debuted for Queensland in 1903, and represented Australia in the three-quarters position that year in the inaugural Test against New Zealand in Sydney. The following year he played three separate positions – centre, wing and fullback – in the three international Test matches against Great Britain. In that series he was regarded as Australia’s best player due in part to his superior tackling and runs for the goal line. To see Charlie run “was a sight that fascinated thousands of spectators time after time”.
In 1903 Charlie scored all of Queensland’s points in a match against the visiting British team, which was won by the visitors 18-7. The Brisbane Courier reported: “Charlie Redwood was the best player of the whole 30…[he] took the ball a few yards from his own line and made one of the most brilliant runs ever seen on the ground.” He was named to the “Gallery of Great Players” on the occasion of Queensland Rugby Union’s jubilee in 1932 for representing the State on more than 10 occasions. His total was 12 matches: eight against NSW as a forward, two against New Zealand, and two against the Maori team. Charlie married Marcella Isabel Joyce on 19 October 1904 and immediately retired from football. One writer commented on this: “Charlie was a good sportsman, but he knew where to draw the line. Those who have seen him play will also agree that he knew where and how to cross the line”. He moved to Sydney to become head maltster at Toohey’s brewery, but later returned to Toowoomba where in 1915 he worked at Downs’ Storage Company. He died in Toowoomba on 15 May 1949.