They know how to party in North Queensland.
Over 15,000 screaming Cowboys fans were at 1300Smiles Stadium on Monday afternoon to welcome home their NRL premiership heroes.
And that came after thousands more crammed into the Townsville airport to give the players a deafening welcome home cheer.
The players were presented with the keys to the city by Townsville mayor Jenny Hill at the reception.
She paid tribute to the past chief executive Peter Jourdain and the current boss Greg Tonner, chairman Laurence Lancini and the board as well as coach Paul Green and the players.
“This is the heartland for rugby league and this is a win that will inspire the city,” Cr Hill said.
“The Cowboys are our team, they have achieved the dream and they’ve made it to the top.”
After years of finals refereeing blunders and horrible returns on the field in the early days, Mr Lancini said it was a win the people of North Queensland could relish.
“These boys have made history for this club,” he said.
“Despite all the critics that we’ve had over the years, despite the many people who said that North Queensland could never win this, and despite the controversies that we’ve had over the past finals series, these guys knew what it meant to the people of North Queensland to bring home the holy grail of rugby league.”
The man of the moment was Johnathan Thurston, the four-time Dally M winner, the Clive Churchill Medal winner and the man who piloted the Cowboys to glory.
“It’s a little bit emotional, coming back and seeing the airport the way it was and standing here in front of everyone,” he said as he held the Provan-Summons Trophy.
“They’ve felt the highs and the lows that the team has over the last 20 years.
“For the next 12 months this bad boy is for you to enjoy.”