The Cousin Connection John and Greg do it for �Dallas� John Richards and Greg Donnelly of Redcliffe are colourful characters. Both enjoy a good laugh and a fair dinkum belly laugh. But when it comes to football, they�ll earnestly tell you their chief desire is etched in black and white. The two cousins are related to the late John �Dallas� Donnelly � the larger than life legend from Gunnedah and Wests in Sydney. And after hearing the Sydney Magpies had struck a memorial trophy in honour of the lovable prop both Richards and Donnelly concurred that to go to Wests and win the award would be the ultimate honour. �Winning that prize would be the event of my career,� said Donnelly the Redcliffe fullback. Richards also said it would be a great honour to win the Dallas award but he stressed sentiment alone would not drive him to Lidcombe Oval. � It would be tremendous to win that trophy. But before such a move, I�d need to look at the change in it�s right perspective,� he said. �By that I mean I�d need to look at it financially and career-wise.� The death of John Donnelly has had a devastating effect on the duo. And months after the tragedy, it still pains them to discuss their feelings. �It�s been hard to take. Johnny (Richards) and I still can�t believe it. We were heading over to play Wynnum when we heard it on the news and it hurt all the way,� said Greg. �We both played that game especially for him, and beating Wynnum made things seem worthwhile.� Richards explained his grief, �It was a real tragedy the family are so close, we were really shocked. He was only young but did do a lot of living�. Still, he had a lot to live for,� he lamented. Since leaving Gunnedah at the start of the year, both Donnelly and Richards have enjoyed unforseen success. Donnelly has starred in the Redcliffe A Grade fullback spot while Richards� wing prowess won him a spot in the Brisbane National Panasonic Cup side against Manly last month. And the irrepressible John Donnelly spirit radiated through him a few days before his showdown with the Sydney silvertails. �My cousin was �Dallas� Donnelly, so I won�t need much motivation against Manly,� was his stirring proclamation to the press. As it turned out Richards was shaking like a leaf before the big game. � While all the other players were taking a nap during the day, I stayed up watching television. I was so nervous. �Before the game players like Wally Fullerton-Smith and Bryan Niebling had a yarn with me to settle me down.� Before leaving the NSW country town, Donnelly encountered some drama of his own through a work accident. While cutting up lamb at the local abattoir, he miscued his timing and sliced off his right index finger. �It was a bit gory at the time but after some microsurgery, it�s as good as new. I intend to be more careful,� he joked. The only pie Donnelly wants his finger in now is Rugby League! And cousin John�s rating of him shows he holds him in high stead. �He�s got all the right kind of attributes to make his own kind of a mark in A Grade. He never quits and never gives an inch,� says Richards. Donnelly returned the compliment with a wholehearted appraisal of the big, strong winger. �He�s not scared to run the ball straight and hard. He wouldn�t think twice about relieving the forwards when it comes to taking the ball up.� The people of Gunnedah, steeped in �Dallas� Donnelly folklore, would vouch for their skill. Big John would be proud.
This article is from Rugby League Week in 1986