When the Wynnum Manly Rugby League Football Club was accepted into competition for the 1951 season, an overwhelming decision was made to hand the coaching duties to the current Wynnum Manly representative coach Abby Thurlow. Thurlow a former player with plenty of coaching experience in the local competition, was given one of the toughest jobs in forming a side from players in the local district.
Wynnum came sixth in their first year back into the BRL competition, winning a total of five games. Thurlow coached the side in 1952 before Wynnum opted to utilise Charlie Roff as a player coach for the 1953 season. Unfortunately Roff encountered poor health in the second half of the season and under doctors orders was told to resign from playing and coaching. Noel Graham took over as caretaker coach for the remainder of the 1953 season.
With the early retirement of Roff, Wynnum targeted Brisbane representative centre Keith Brown. Brown an outside centre was currently playing with the Easts, however with the lure to captain coach Wynnum Manly it proved too tempting for Brown to refuse and he signed with Wynnum Manly. Brown would go on to coach the side for the next five years, a coaching record only equalled by Des Morris in future years.
Brown took a break from coaching in 1959, with Rex Fox taking over as the new Seagulls coach. This was to be Wynnum’s most successful year since entering the competition. Fox took Wynnum Manly to their first Preliminary Final and won our first ever piece of silverware winning the Presidents Cup.
Unfortunately success was not to continue in 1960 with Laurie Coleman being appointed as coach and finishing last. The club was not happy with the results of the 1960 season and reverted back to Keith Brown as coach in 1961, Brown chose to coach only in this year.
Wynnum Manly took on a different approach in 1962 and employed former Valleys player Ray Paulsen as their coach for the next three years. Paulsen had some successful periods through his tenure, making the Presidents Cup Final in 1963 and leading the competition at the halfway mark of this season. Paulsen’s side finished last in 1964 and Wynnum Manly turned to their favourite son Lionel Morgan, who was appointed captain/coach in 1965. In 1966 the club approached Englishman Jack Large and he was handed the reigns with limited success, only winning two games throughout the season. Morgan put up his hand again and coached the side in 1967.
After limited success over the previous four seasons Wynnum Manly needed to change things up appointing John ‘Mouse’ Ryan from the lower grades at Norths. When Ryan moved to Wynnum Manly he brought a nucleus of the successful Norths Colts side with him, bolstering playing stocks for that year. With Ryan as coach Wynnum Manly’s won their second major trophy, winning the first ever Woolies pre season competition in 1968. Ryan would remain coach until former player and local Jim Thompson took over in 1970.
The committee turned to the high profile Jim Thompson to add some stability to the club, unfortunately Thompson had a poor season and turned his hand to administration and management, being replaced in 1971 by former Queensland representative Paul Pyers Snr.
Pyers tried to lift Wynnum out of the doldrums, unfortunately like plenty of coaches before him he failed to do so. One high point for the club was that father and son Paul Pyers Snr and Jnr, played in the same first grade team, a feat never repeated to this day.
With the supporter base craving stability, former International and Australian captain Brian Davies was announced as the Seagulls new coach for 1972/73. This did not go the way the club was hoping, with Davies only winning five games across two seasons. Davies lost the support of the board and resigned from his position.
A change in Wynnum’s fortunes commenced when club officials, Jim Geherty and Trevor Harvey Williams, made the trip down to Sydney to offer St George reserve grade coach Tom Berry the position as coach for the 1974 season, which he accepted. Tom Berry was a smart operator and new how to get the best out of his players, however things weren’t looking good with Wynnum in last position at the halfway point of the season. The second half of the season would prove to be a totally different story, with Berry winning eight of the last eleven games missing out on the semis by three points.
After a strong finish to 1974, high expectations were held for the club in 1975 and they didn’t disappoint, with Wynnum Manly taking part in their first semi finals series in 16 years. It was a very successful year for the club also wining the reserve and third grade grand finals. Berry was lost to Souths at the end of the season with Souths official Ted Beaumont approaching Berry with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
At the end of the 1975 season with the loss of Tom Berry, the Seagulls went to a coach with a proven record in Jimmy Lewis. Lewis had coached the 1969 Colts and the 1972 Third Grade sides too premierships and had the uncanny knack to bring out the best in his players. He was very popular with the players and had a policy that all credit belonged to his team when dealing with the media. Lewis retired at the end of the 1976 season, after coaching Wynnum Manly teams for the last 16 years.
At the start of the 1977 season Wynnum Manly employed former Australian player Dennis Ward on a two year contract. Ward was massive on fitness and no player was spared, but with the loss of Rhodes, Milne, Hornery and others Ward needed to mould a side quickly. Wynnum finished two wins out of the semi finals in 1977 and 1978 and Ward moved to take on another position.
One of the most successful coaches in the current modern era was Henry Holloway and Wynnum got their man, with Henry joining the club in 1979. Big things were expected from Holloway, however Wynnum would go on to finish last with five wins. In 1980 the Wynnum Manly Rugby League Football Club pulled off one of their biggest signings when Des Morris was signed from Easts. The Des Morris influence played a big part in what was to take place over the next few years. Henry Holloway retired from coaching at the end of the 1980 season and Des Morris was appointed as captain coach of the club.
Des Morris now had full control of the players, not only on the field but off as well. The immediate change was evident in the way the team approached training and playing, results showed in his first year Wynnum making the Preliminary Final, narrowly losing to Souths 16 -12.
Morris then retired from playing at the end of the 1981 season, remaining as coach in 1982. Morris coached Wynnum Manly to their first ever premiership in 1982 and many believe it was not for the Morris influence, it would not have happened. He remained the coach of Wynnum Manly until the end of the 1985 season, coaching the club to three grand finals, winning two and a preliminary final. Morris has a better coaching record than any Wynnum Manly coach and only Keith Brown coached the team for a longer period.
When Morris resigned from the club as coach at the end of the 1985 season, the board approached current Australian and Queensland captain Wally Lewis to captain-coach the side. Lewis took the team to the 1986 Grand Final and lead from the front to defeat Brothers 14-6. Not a bad year to start his coaching career, but at that stage everything Wally touched turned to gold. Lewis would make the semi finals in 1987, however was defeated by Redcliffe in the Minor Semi Final. Wally and his father Jim are the only father son team to coach the Wynnum Manly side since its inception.
The Brisbane Rugby League competition changed forever at the end of the 1987 season, with the Brisbane Broncos being accepted to join the NSWRL. Lewis was lost to the Broncos so the club was in search for a new coach and ex Wynnum Manly player John Dowling got the nod for the 1988 season.
Dowling had a very tough job, with a complete changeover of player staff and the club also having financial issues and passed the reigns onto Brian Walsh for the next two years. Walsh had coached the 1988 Colts side which lost to Redcliffe in the Grand Final and would be working with most of the players from that team. Walsh called it quits at the end of the 1990 after two seasons.
In 1991 Graham Kong had the job of moulding a very young team of talented players, however with a lack of seniors players it was a struggle and he only remained coach for this season. Kong became reserve grade coach and John Lang’s right hand man at Easts in 1992.
Wynnum knew they had a very young talanted squad and turned to former premiership winner and local Gary Seaton for the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Seaton had some success in his first year with Wynnum making the minor semi final, losing narrowly to Norths. Graham Quinn became coach in 1994 with limited results and was replaced by Peter Donkin for the 1995 season.
It was a year of change in the world of Rugby League in 1995, with four new teams accepted into the National Rugby League, This drained talent from all competitions which made for very open Queensland Cup. Wynnum coach Peter Donkin had a group of very talented players and made the most of the opportunity taking out the Grand Final against raging hot favourites Easts.
Donkin remained coach in 1996, before Alfonso Miranda was appointed for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Miranda had two years of sucess with Wynnum, taking the Seagulls to the finals in both seasons. Peter Sinclair replaced Miranda as coach in 1999, however only remained coach for this season.
Former Souths and Easts prop Geoff Naylor was assisting with the newly commenced Under 18’s competition for Wynnum Manly in 1999. When the QLD Cup coaching role became available, he applied and was successful. Naylor would go on to coach Wynnum Manly for the next two years. Naylor resigned and was replaced by Kelly Egan for the next three seasons, only leaving when given the opportunity to join the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL for the 2005 season.
With Egan being poached by the Cowboys, the club was on the look out for an established coach with Neil Wharton being the successful applicant. Wharton went on to coach Wynnum for the next two seasons, before being replaced by Shane McNally for the 2007 season. McNally would resign from his duties at the end of the 2009 season.
It had now been 15 years since Wynnum Manly tasted premiership success and the club turned to one of their own in former local product Paul Green. Green had been working alongside Wayne Bennett at the Brisbane Broncos, learning from the master coach and high hopes were held that he could break Wynnum’s premiership drought. That was to all come true for the club and Green won back to back premierships in 2011 and 2012.
Wynnum would lose their coach at the end of the 2012 season, with Green taking up an opportunity to be assistant coach of the Sydney Roosters. Wynnum could not have had a better replacement for the 2013 season with former NRL coach Graham Murray appointed. Unfortunately Murray had to stand down from the position due to ill health and John Buchanan was named the new coach.
Buchanan would remain as coach for the next four seasons, whilst not tasting premiership success, the Seagulls played in the finals in his first three years as coach. He resigned at the end of the 2016 season and took up an offer to coach Souths Magpies. In 2017 the Wynnum Seagulls turned to former player Adam Brideson as their new coach. Brideson had limited results during his first two seasons, however took the Seagulls to the Grand Final of the QLD Cup in 2019 after a very successful year.