Cult hero Mark Tookey had a legion of fans in his time with the Vodafone Warriors and he gained a whole lot more on a Saturday afternoon in Townsville in 2002.
It unfolded like this.
The Vodafone Warriors were at Dairy Farmers Stadium facing North Queensland in the third match of a campaign which would see them winning the minor premiership and going all the way to the grand final for the first time.
They hadn’t been impressive a week earlier going down to Newcastle 14-32 at Mount Smart Stadium and were desperate for a vastly improved performance on a day when a youngster from Huntly by the name of Lance Hohaia was playing the first of his 185 games for the club.
In time it came, the Vodafone Warriors hitting the flick switch to find their hottest attacking touch en route to a 26-4 halftime lead and eventually an emphatic 50-20 victory.
No question, though, that the best moment of the contest belonged to the big man in the middle.
He routinely sparked a chant of Too-kee whenever the ball came his way at Mount Smart Stadium, or whenever there was a big crowd of Vodafone Warriors supporters at an away game.
Out-of-the-way Townsville wasn’t such a place but Tookey left those watching on television salivating as the Vodafone Warriors scored their third try in the space of five minutes to blow the game wide open.
Fielding a Glenn Morrison restart near his own dead-ball line, Tookey lit up for a kick return to remember, bursting up towards his 10-metre line, putting on a step that put him clear through a staggered North Queensland defensive line and then hurtling past his 40-metre line before finding fullback Ivan Cleary looming up in support. Cleary took the ball on another 30 metres before shifting to Clinton Toopi to race away for what was essentially a 110-metre try. A stunner.
As an aside, three future Vodafone Warriors were in the North Queensland line-up that day – halfback Nathan Fien, hooker Paul Dezolt and interchange forward Micheal Luck.
April 6, 2002
Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville
North Queensland Cowboys 20 (Glenn Morrison 2, Matt Bowen, Josh Hannay tries; Josh Hannay 2 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 50 (Stacey Jones 2, Ivan Cleary, John Carlaw, Clinton Toopi, Lance Hohaia, Sione Faumuina, Mark Tookey tries; Ivan Cleary 7 conversions, penalty; Stacey Jones conversion).
Halftime: 26-4 Vodafone Warriors.
Referee: Mark Oaten.
Vodafone Warriors | Ivan Cleary; Justin Murphy, John Carlaw, Clinton Toopi, Francis Meli; Lance Hohaia, Stacey Jones (c); Justin Morgan, PJ Marsh, Richard Villasanti; Ali Lauitiiti, Awen Guttenbeil; Wairangi Koopu. Interchange: Brent Webb, Sione Faumuina, Logan Swann, Mark Tookey.
North Queensland Cowboys | Matt Bowen; Ashley Alberts, Matt Sing, Ty Williams, Matt Petersen; Josh Hannay, Nathan Fien; John Buttigieg, Paul Dezolt, Jamie McDonald; Daniel Strickland, Shane Muspratt; Glenn Morrison. Interchange: John Doyle, Micheal Luck, David Thompson, Grant Reibel.