Inside strip club at centre of NRL curfew breach
IT WOULD have to be the most expensive night out in Gladstone's strip club the Board Room since the days of the mining boom - a quiet couple of rounds of pink premix drinks, a busted hotel wall and $10,000 in fines slapped on Manly NRL star Daly Cherry-Evans and five teammates for breaking team curfew.
The Board Room sits upstairs from the Central Lane Hotel, across the road from Trade Union corner and just a block from the main street and their hotel.
It's well known around town as the place to go on Sundays or when the lights go off at the other pubs.
The girls are usually flown in from the Gold Coast, operators keep things well behaved and the punters have a good time. There's no suggestion Cherry-Evans and his teammates caused any trouble on Sunday, April 8 - those there on the night say they were quiet, respectful and kept to themselves before slipping back to the hotel.
But when word got out they'd been fined for breaking team curfew to hit the strip club when they'd been told to return to their rooms, Queensland's blue collar capital had a good chuckle.
Gladstone district rugby league president Richard Duff said the town hadn't stopped laughing since hearing the Manly stars had been pinged for hitting the Board Room.
He said Gladstone was a huge league town - it fields five teams in the Rockhampton seniors comp on top of 1140 registered juniors - and both Manly and the Titans players had worked hard on and off the field before their clash at Marley Brown Oval.
He said Manly had invited their one biggest fan in town to a closed training session, stayed well after they were supposed to at a signing day to make sure every kid got an autograph then ran a heap of skills sessions.
"They were great," Mr Duff said. "They formed a tunnel for the under 6s, they signed everything in town. "They were terrific." On match day, 5100 league fans packed into the field tucked in behind Bunnings and the Harvey Road Tavern - full til "it was almost uncomfortable", Mr Duff said.
But after Manly went down to the Gold Coast 32-20, things started unravelling.
Accompanied by team security and PR, it was quiet at dinner at the Oak and Vine in the iconic Grand Hotel on Goondoon St before the team were told they could have a couple of drinks and given orders to get back to their hotel across the road.
In public, they were well behaved and helpful. But behind closed doors, Cherry-Evans and Jackson Hastings were about to clash.
Cherry-Evans and five others ducked off down the hill to the Board Room.
When they returned to the hotel, Hastings and star Cherry-Evans had a bust up, damaging a hotel room wall and forcing team management to act on the busted curfew and hit back with fines.
"The players had dinner and a couple of quiet drinks and were told to be back at the hotel at a certain time, but they ignored it," Manly chairman Scott Penn said in handing down the fines - $10,000 for Cherry-Evans and a so-far undisclosed hit for the others.
On Friday night, the Manly-Newcastle match was screened on Fox Sports at the Oak and Vine.
Manly went down to the former cellar dwellers 18-12 at home, another sign the squad could be in trouble.
But in Gladstone, the strip club visit was still making footy fans laugh.
"It's a bit of a joke around town," Mr Duff said. "It's the best advertising the Board Room and Gladstone have had. Our community is treating it as a great joke."