The danger in writing of the Hall brothers is that most of the population of Young and places thereabouts seem to be related to them, and thus will find errors and omissions. The advantage is that you will be gracious and contribute stories, corrections and improvements.
There were other prolific sporting families about, such as the Weissels of Cootamundra, footballing families like the Broads of West Wyalong, the Lawrences of Barmedman, and the Templeman brothers of Bellarwi, but nothing quite like the Hall brothers of Belowra, Wambanumba, Murringo, Bendick Murrell and Young. It’s not that the family lived in all these places, but being in the vicinity they represented them all in some way.
James Gorham (Jim) Hall and Ethel Hall (nee Friend) of Belowra raised thirteen children. Jim was a gravel carting contractor who later in life became an assistant engineer for Burrangong Council. There were eleven boys, seven of who represented in the Maher Cup, while three others (William, James and Walter) are said to have played before the Cup days.
Other than their footballing brilliance, there are two stories that solidify the family as sporting icons. The first is that in the late 1920s the family literally comprised the whole of the Wambanumba cricket team. The other is the legend that they not only road their bicycles into and back from Young for football, which must have been close to 30 miles return, but would also ride over to say Temora, when playing away.
The full roll call was: William (1892-1924), Mary (1894-1982), Jim (1896-1971); Walter (1898-1981), Bob (1899-1975), Sid (1902-1995), Tom (1906-1956), Norman – better known as ‘Ben’ (1908-1987), Ethel Myra (1910-1916), Abe (1912-1950), Roy (1913-1981), Dave (1916-2012) and Clem (1919-1997).
The seven who played Maher Cup were Abe, Ben, Bob, Dave, Roy, Sid and Tom.
Let’s look at the Hall brothers through the years.
Sister Ethel Myra, known as Myra, dies aged 5, leaving Mary at eleven as an only girl with nine, later eleven, brothers.
Aged just one Dave had already been badly scalded, thrown into the air by a cranky cow’s horns and was now bitten by a pig. You couldn’t say these kids were mollycoddled, or held fear in high esteem.
Sid Hall, aged 16, starts ‘pulling on the boots’ for Murringo. With Bob and Jim also playing, Marengo (as it was then called) amasses 115 points for and none against in its ten games.
As the soldiers return and the footballing ranks swell, Sid 17, Bob 19, Walter 20 and Jim 23 are all playing for Marengo.
By 1921 Rugby League has replaced Union across the Southwest. Sid is playing very good football for the Wambanumba team. In the book On Gunnary Creek Desmond Gorham wrote:
In his youth, Sid Hall competed also in boxing and buck-jumping contests. He was a regular rider for travelling troupes brought to the Young district by Thorpe McConville, Lance and Violet Skuthorpe, Stan and Kitty McGill and Tom Handley. Sid rode the legendary ‘Rocky Ned‘ on three occasions, once staying on for 9 seconds. He also competed with some sucess in the Australian Buckjumping Championship held at Brisbane in 1921.
Bob and Sid competed in Tom Handley’s ‘Wild Australia‘ buckjumping show at Young.
Jim, Bob, Walter and Sid were still all playing Rugby League for Marengo, and also for Wambanumba, the nearest community to their property.
Young had two townie teams, the Kangaroos and Kia-Ora. In April the Kangaroos were soundly defeated by a combined Wambanumba-Marengo for whom Bob and Sid starred. A war of words following in the Young Witness with Mr J.J Dwyer player-secretary writing:
Their “plain intention when they went on to the field was to win, tie or wrangle. They did the same last year and I suppose they will do it every time. Why, away back in 1909 one of the biggest brawls going took place at Wambanumba and they haven’t yet learned better sense….We travel the district, and never strike trouble in the slightest, except when we meet Wambanumba. On Sunday last I was abused but I must excuse them because they know no better.
Playing for Wambanumba against Young a few weeks later, Sid was hospitalised by a knock to the head. It was serious enough for the game to be abandoned as his team-mates were focused on getting him to hospital. The Witness reported that Sid was ‘in a bad way’. By chance both his father and grandmother were already patients there, making family visits easy. Following his release Sid was ‘seized with violent pains in the head, became unconscious, and had to be readmitted’. It didn’t seem to deter him.
Bob and Sid again amused the crowds when Tom Handley’s unrideable horses returned to town. Sid married Olive Cockburn.
The eldest brother William aged 32, dies in Sydney after being hospitalised with pleurisy.
1925 marked the beginning of the Maher Cup years for Young. The table below shows the 150 matches played by the brothers, broken down by years.
Sid was not only selected to play for Southern Districts, but also for New South Wales Country. He played centre in Young’s first ever Maher Cup challenge, a 17-13 loss to a crack Cootamundra team containing Eric Weissel, Phil Regan and Bill Lesberg. In the third (unsuccessful) challenge Bob Hall scored Young’s try and kicked their only goal. Cootamundra tried to entice Sid to move there.
The youngest Hall brother, Clem aged six, suffers serious burns, when, after helping a brother pour kerosene, he goes to warm himself in front of the fire. He is taken to Burrangong Hospital ‘more dead than alive‘.
In 1926 Sid upset the Young president when he requested £12 for travel expenses to play at Canowindra. Maybe this was to cover bicycle tyres… or perhaps to pay the medical bills, as he lands in hospital again with a broken ankle.
Tom Hall, aged 20, starts playing Maher Cup for Young.
Young were worried they may have to do without Sid for awhile when he badly crushed his thumb at work in the Burrangong Shire quarry. However when Young regained the ‘Tin Pot’ three weeks later, convincingly by 22-7 , Sid was in attendance, scoring a try and landing a ‘remarkable‘ goal. Going crazy was resumed in Boorowa Street.
Norman ‘Ben’ Hall, aged 19, begins playing Maher Cup for Young.
Young had bad luck with Maher Cup draws – some say the draws were dodgy – only getting one date, which happened to be day of the Young Show. Being the only event in the town’s calendar more important than the Maher Cup, the challenge was dropped. So a very good team had to be satisfied with a stack of lesser cups and with Sid being sidelined for a few weeks with a poisoned arm.
Sid didn’t forget about Wambunumba. He put in the biggest innings in the cricket team and had the best batting averages. Pretty good for a wicket-keeper. Of course he made the most catches. In a game against Bendick Murrell, Abe, Tom, Jim, Bob, Ben and Sid all played, scoring most of the team’s runs and taking 15 of 16 wickets.
That year the Hall Brothers unsettled things by playing for both Young and Bendick Murrell.
Young Abe Hall, still aged only 16, was picked as fullback for the Maher Cup challenge at Cootamundra on 5 June 1929. Sid, Bob and Ben were also in the side.
When the brothers represented Bendick Murrell in the quite prestigious Royal [Hotel] Cup, Young went down 5-3. Getting cocky, father Jim Hall…
‘on behalf of eight Halls, challenged any eight players in the Young team, which played at Bendick Murrell for the Royal Cup, for a wager of anything up to £100. The challenge was accepted and £100 lodged’.
The local police inspector ordered that the cheques be returned as, he deemed, this sort of challenge match to be in contravention of the Betting Act.
Because the Halls had being playing with Bendick without the permission of the Young club, the selectors dropped them from the Maher Cup challenge on 18 September, even in the face of a threatened player strike.
The Burrangong Council stepped in and settled the dispute in a novel manner. As the match was on a Wednesday, and as the Halls worked for the Council, and as Wednesday was for Council employees a working day, the Shire Engineer informed the brothers that they were not permitted to have the day off. The rest of the players reluctantly headed off to Barmedman to be duly thrashed 22-3.
Walter Hall married Emily Oakes. Tom Hall had married Emily Smith of Spring Creek in 1928. She died in 1929 after giving birth, leaving Tom as a single parent. The little girl was reared by the Smiths and later Tom’s parents. Tom then married Clarice Madden in 1929.
Ben Hall punched the referee at a selection trial game against Murrumburrah, and still got selected.
1930 saw some respite from the boom or bust mentality of challenge cup football, which was centred on the ‘Holy Grail’, the Maher Cup. The ‘South-Western Football Competition’ came into being, comprising Cowra, Grenfell, Young, Harden-Murrumburrah, Boorowa, Galong, Maimaru, Monteagle and Bendick Murrell. This was the first such competition to be established in Maher Cup country, and in hard financial times still attracted crowds of up to 2000.
Little Bendick Murrell appointed Sid Hall as coach. They were also able to register more players than an other team in the comp., putting up two full sides. They eventually emerged as points runners-up in the first grade and premiers in the reserves. Abe, Ben, Bob, Sid and Tom all played. At Bendick’s massive end of season celebration Claude Bensley’s ‘Syncopators’ entertained a very happy little community.
Sid was outstanding in the Southwestern team which narrowly lost to New Zealand at Young in August.
Cootamundra were annoyed that three are their key players were enticed to play for the ‘Tri-Colours’. During quite a wild ‘friendly’ at Fisher Park, Sid was sent from the field for ‘having too much to say’, while Abe was penalised for an ‘illegal’ tackle which resulted in Cootamundra’s Harpham being knocked out. Young, taking exception to decisions of the Cootamundra referee Tom Alberts, and walked off. Young’s three Jacks from Coota, Jack ‘Kinky’ Kingston, Jack ‘Inky’ Dempsey and Jack Walkom, were all duly suspended by the Group 9 judiciary.
Ben married Doris Smith. Bob went to court after the umpire, Sid Beazley, attacked him in a cricket match at Wombat. Apparently Bob used unseemly language towards the official. It was a costly Sunday for both as their fines at more than £7 each were well in excess if the weekly wage.
Sid Hall said in a interview in the Wagga Daily Advertiser that the Wambanumba team, containing all the Hall boys when they were living on the property, won the local competition three years in a row. I’m guessing this cup to the left, presented to their father at the end of the 1930-31 season is the result.
Young won four Maher Cup matches before falling to Temora before a massive crowd in a match regarded as one of the most violent ever. Abe had a ‘mix-up‘ on the line with Reg Maker ‘in which blows were exchanged’, the crowd rushed the field and a Temora visitor assaulted Young’s fullback Cowderoy, which then caused a big crowd fight to erupt on the sideline, the Police walked on with the intention to arrest Maker, and Abe came away nursing a sore knee, bite marks, and a ‘severe nose injury‘. Sid also had a crook leg.
Sid Hall cites another 1931 Maher Cup match as a highlight of his career:
Our coach that year was Jack Kingston, a big forward who played for Australia, but he wasn’t playing the day we played Junee. I still remember we were down 14-4 at halftime, and all the caoch said during the break was to all get in and do our best in the second half. There was nothing said about what we are doing wrong, or what we should be doing in the second half. Anyway as we were running out I said to my brother Abe that I thought that we were standing too deep. So we called the team together and I suggested we stand up closer. It worked…we ended up winning 15-14.
[Read an actual report here]
Abe was selected for a Group 9 vs Wests match at the Sydney Sports Ground. Wests were atop the Sydney competition and Group 9’s reputation for producing great players was spreading. The match attracted a very healthy 11,000 spectators on a cold blowy day. The country lads won 29-21. They also played Souths in September, before 20,000, but Abe had the flu and missed out.
Ben, now 24, was playing superb football and was selected, along with Abe for a Southwestern team to play Group 8 in the selection trials for Country Week.
Roy, aged 18, commenced playing for Young firsts, but does not yet feature in Maher Cup matches.
Still aged just 19, Abe marries Irene Spencer and takes her on their honeymoon to Sydney for Country Week, where he is representing Southern Districts. All this inspires him and he is selected for NSW Country. He then played against the English team at Wagga, and was selected as a reserve for the test match at the SCG on 6 June.
He was also getting written up by the Sydney press for his fine cricketing skills.
Roy Hall, aged 20, marries Ivy King. He also comes off second best when he collides with a post while playing.
Abe is selected for Southern Districts and Group 9, but succumbs to the flu again and misses the Country Week matches. Sid playing in a ‘Hall Brothers Team‘, composed almost entirely of family but also with Bill Kearney and Jack O’Malley, announces his retirement. And not for the last time.
According to an interview with Sid, in the summer of 1933/34 he toured Tasmania with the NSW Country cricket team. He also came to Sydney in one of the Depression years to play for Canterbury-Bankstown but couldn’t secure a job, and not being able to live off the £4 player payment, he went home.
Sid is appointed player-coach of Young, and the team had its best run to date in Maher Cup history – seven wins on the trot. Abe played six Cup games and was brilliant in a Southwestern vs Western Divison match at Young. Roy, settling as a winger, became a key member of the Maher Cup side. The magnificent standard of football at Young that year can largely be attributed to the four Hall brothers all at the top of their game: Sid aged 32, Ben 26, Abe 21 and Roy 20. Sid announced his retirement again.
In 1935, after initially offering the captain-coach position to international Hilton Delaney, Sid Hall is reappointed.
It promised to be a tough year. As holders Young faced the first challenge of the season, from a Cootamundra side stacked with six imports, the Burrangong Council even agreed that Sid can have Cup Wednesday’s off, without pay of course, even if it means stopping the plant. In the Coota match Sid gets himself sent off and the game is lost. Then Sid resigns from the coaching position, claiming the Council now won’t give him the time off anymore. Abe, who was also a paid player at £2 a week has his contract terminated because of the Council’s about-face. Young had two further matches, losing both to a young Tumut side that dominated the rest of the season. Coota’s local players revolted after the feeling spread that the paid players had been ‘got at’ to throw a Cup game. Sid is presented with a gold watch and chain and it looks like he might be really retiring.
Abe played in the Group 9 team. Otherwise it was a pretty dismal year. Roy was struck with double pneumonia and it was felt he may not return to his pastures protection labouring job for two years. In June, Dave, aged 19, playing for Young against Cowra, had his leg clean broken in two places below the knee, was hospitalised for ‘several months‘ and was left with a permanent bend.
Sid is appointed player-coach at Bendick Murrell, which enjoys its one and only challenge for the ‘Old Tin Pot’. Remarkably little brother Dave Hall, aged 20, joins the ranks of Maher Cup players as fullback for Bendick. Abe continues to play for Young which loses its one and only Maher Cup challenge.
Roy wasn’t out of work as long as expected following his pneumonia. In January he was hit by a stone when working in a culvert and was off to hospital again with concussion. There’s no record of him playing any further football.
Abe and Sid returned to the ‘Cherry-pickers’ and contributed to a good Maher Cup run. Abe kicked ‘one of the most spectacular goals seen in a long time’ in a 6-6 Maher Cup draw at Cowra. Sid, now 35, and troubled by a recurring leg injury, announces his retirement again. Dave Hall marries Betty Sheather and two years after breaking his right leg splits the mended bone in a match at Monteagle. Bob Hall married Mary Wiggins – they divorced in 1944.
On Sid’s 36th birthday Young wins the Maher Cup again. He plays 15 Cup matches, and Abe 14, in Young’s must successful year of all time. One of these was the famous match at Cowra where Mr Murphy the Sydney referee, claimed that there was an attempt to bribe him and ended up walking off, refusing to adjudicate a ‘donnybrook’. Abe went down for the count after received both lefts and rights.
Dave, Ben, Roy, Sid, Bob and now youngest brother Clem,were still all playing Cricket for Wambanumba.
Sid just kept keeping on, playing ten further Maher Cup matches and scoring some spectacular tries. In one he had to punch West Wyalong’s Bobby Navin, well-known as a boxer, and promptly got sent off. Abe played nine matches and would have been in many more if he hadn’t been sent off for a stiff-arm and sidelined for two weeks and then saddled with a further four weeks for refereeing a game while suspended. Abe represented Southern Districts and Group 9 who trounced Group 17 by 36-0 at West Wyalong.
As people started to become concerned about the war, Sid took to refereeing and just played in a single Maher Cup match as a prop. Abe, referred to as Young’s ‘stormy petrel‘ reportedly went over to Goulburn and got a job as a warden at the penitentiary. However he was back in town, and in the team by July.
The youngest Hall brother Clem married Thelma Reisinger. Dave Hall, of the broken leg and that single Maher Cup match for Bendick Murrell back in 1936, contributes to Young’s efforts in the Group 9 competition. However after he and Roy Richens were sent off in a game against Tumut they were identified as ‘a contributing factor in the inglorious defeat‘ of 38-0. In Zouch Street on the way to his Pastures Protection Board job Dave also fell off the back of a truck and is again hospitalised.
Young has another a great Maher Cup run and also achieved the rare feat of also winning the Group 9 competition, but many men had enlisted and interest in football waned. Abe played his last matches for his home side and Sid just made a single Cup appearance.
Sid and Roy were still playing cricket, now with Burrangong.
Abe played a few first grade games with Balmain in the Sydney competition including one against Norths before a crowd of almost 30,000
Astonishingly Sid returned to Maher Cup football after the war, aged 43. He played in a very good Young side, in five matches, even scoring a try. At the end of the season he retired, seemingly with no announcement this time. I guess no-one would have believed him. He continued to referee. Sid never drank, nor smoked, and credited this with contributing to his longevity in football and life.
Sid, Roy and Ben were back playing cricket for Wambanumba.
1950 will be forever remembered in the Hall world as the year of the tragic and avoidable death of Abe, aged 37, at Grenfell, asphyxiated in a work accident when cleaning out a petrol tank for his employer Caltex. A most sad end.
Abe was outlived by his parents, James Gorham Hall who passed away at 86 and his mother Ethel, 82. In 1956 Tom died aged 50, Jim in 1971 aged 74, Bob in 1975 aged 75, Walter and Roy in 1981 aged 82 and 67, Mary (Mrs George Coleman) aged 87 in 1982, Ben aged 79 at his house ‘Glenrowan” at Spring Creek in 1987, Sid 92 in 1995, Clem in 1997 aged 78, and Dave at 96 was the last Hall brother, declaring the family’s inning finished in 2012.
About 1980 the Council named a football ground in honour of the family.
- Newspaper articles from Trove as linked
- New South Wales Births Deaths and Marriages
- Desmond Gorham. On Gunnary Creek: 150 years of the Gorham family in Australia 1938-1988.
- Desmond Gorham. The Year 2000 and beyond with the Gorham family 1838-2000.
- Les Muir talks With Sid Hall. The Wagga Daily Advertiser, 26 May 1994.