In 1977 a group of students and lecturers from the then Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) got together and formed the DDIAE Amateur Soccer Club. They originally competed in the intramural "Piggots Shield", an on campus competition open to any interested student groups.
In 1978, the club formally joined the Toowoomba and District Soccer Federation, with their first competitive match being against Rockville, possibly in third grade, which the students won. Originally they hosted games in the vacant area behind the Toowoomba Education Centre, just to the East of McGregor College, but at some time in the next couple of years, the club moved to share the cricket and Aussie rules oval next to Steel Rudd College. Unfortunately, details for this time period are scarce.
In 1984, DDIAE lecturer Jim Taylor assumed coaching responsibilities for the men's first division, and started one of the golden eras for the club. In that season, the first grade managed a creditable 3rd place finish, but it was the reserves that had the most memorable year. Undefeated through the regular season they progressed straight through to the grand final. Despite being 3-0 up after only fifteen minutes, they managed to somehow lose 5-4.
1985 was arguably the most successful year the club has ever had. At the end of the regular season, both first and reserve grade men's teams were minor premiers, while the ladies finished fourth. Both men's teams reached their respective Grand Finals. The reserves made amends for the previous year, and all focus switched to the top side. In first grade, Wanderers were competing to win their 13th grand final in a row, but DDIAE stepped up to claim the title, and complete the double double (First and Reserve grade minor and major premiers) for the only time in the clubs history.
1986 and first grade were at it again. They defended their minor premiership, and drew with Wanderers in the Grand Final. In the last ever Grand Final replay, DDIAE scored in the dying stages to again claim the title. Unfortunately, in 1987 Jim Taylor switched to coach St Albans who were then playing in Brisbane 3rd grade, and took a number of our best players with him. That, combined with the natural turnover of students, left the club short of quality and experience. First grade still managed a creditable 3rd place, but missed the finals the next year. It would be 6 years before they reached the finals again. Reserves won the 1988 grand final, though it would be another 10 years till they played on the last day of the season again. For one season, possibly 1989, Garden City played a colts team under the DDIAE banner, and despite a massive points deduction for using an ineligible player for most of the season, reached the Grand Final and won. Unfortunately, all but one of that team moved on the following year, and the relationship between the clubs ended.
The ladies proved to be the shining light of the club for the next few seasons, reaching the finals every year, and a couple of grand finals, and lifted the trophy for the one and only time in the early 90's. 1990 and 91 were dark years for the men with first grade winning only 3 games in those 2 seasons, and reserves doing not much better. The spirit of the club never wavered though, typified on one occasion when a total of 19 players played 9 games in a 15 day student holiday period, so that the club would not forfeit any fixtures. 1990 also brought about a change of names with the DDIAE becoming the University College of Southern Queensland, and then in 1992 we finally became The University of Southern Queensland. About that time, we also moved to our current Baker St home. The change in name and location were reflected with positive on-field changes as well. With the same core of players for several seasons, and a couple of new quality players, the men started to become more competitive. In fact our rise in fortunes can be pinpointed to one game.
The Winstanley Shield was an FA cup style competition, hosted by Willowburn Soccer Club, and was one of the most prestigious trophy's in Toowoomba soccer. All men's teams from every grade would compete. Unfortunately, due to players being tied to the reserve grade USQ team, and university holidays, in the first round our top side were only able to field 9 players against a Rockville side that had won the previous years grand final. In a memorable display, USQ ran out deserved 2-0 winners. The boost in confidence to the players was obvious, and they went on to reach the final of that competition (where they lost to Dalby), and reach the finals of the regular competition for the first time since 1987.
For the next 14 years USQ became one of the teams to beat finishing out of the top four only once. They were minor premiers in 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2002, won at least 4 presidents cups and 2 Winstanley Shields, and played in four grand finals 1995, 1998, 2002, and 2005 but lost them all. 2000 and 2001 were particularly memorable years for first grade, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. For these two years, firsts won 34 games, drew 4 with 0 losses in the regular season but failed to win a finals match. On the positive side though, reserve grade finally became competitive, reaching the preliminary final in 1998, winning the grand final in 2000 and 2003 and losing in 2001 and 2004.
USQ was so strong through the first part of the new millennia that our seconds actually competed in first grade in 2002 as USQ Snakes. The top side went straight through to the Grand Final, and only a penalty shoot-out loss against Wanderers stopped an all USQ Final. It was so close in fact that Snakes looked like they had won after a spectacular stop by the keeper, only to have the referee order it to be retaken for moving early. Wanderers of course went on to win the Grand Final against USQ 2-1.
2000 marked another milestone for the club, winning it's first ever club championship. Just to prove how dominant USQ was at this time, we went on to win a further four of the next five club championships. USQ also managed to field 4 men's teams in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons. After the highs of the early 90's the ladies team had an up and down time of it. They failed to field a team several times but did reach the finals on several occasions, and lost the ladies consolation final in 2004, the year before the introduction of a second ladies division.
All good things come to an end however, and 2006 saw the First grade miss out on the finals for only the second time since 1993, though the reserves finished fourth. 2007 was again disappointing with seconds 4th and ladies 3rd, while in 2008 no USQ teams qualified for the finals. 2009 though showed the possibility of a revival, with reserves winning the grand final. It would be somewhat remiss not to mention the lowest placed men's team as well. Since 1985, USQ has often had more teams than divisions to play in, but it has always been club policy to give games to as many players as possible. These players have often struggled with any number of difficulties but have stuck with it through long seasons, with very little to show for it.
Memorably, in 2002 our lowest ranked men's team won the reserve grade presidents cup, their only ever trophy.
While few of the players in this team have ever gone on to play regularly for the top side, their joy at just playing, and their commitment in the face of adversity typify the spirit that makes USQ Soccer one of the best clubs in the Toowoomba football competition.
USQ Football Club is based in Toowoomba, Qld, Australia