West Wyalong was a hard place. In this driest part of Maher Cup country the mallee is more scrub than forest. When disturbed the fine sandy red soil generates dust that just hangs. Making a living was hard, the football fields were hard, the man were expected to be hard. The hardest of them often had the surname Broad. Three generations over five decades, thirteen family members, more if you include the Broad girls’ sons and the in-laws, were at the heart of the town’s Maher Cup passion.
The Broads first came to notice outside the Bland Shire when four of five brothers: George, Fred, Alf and John made up most of the forward pack in the town’s 1925 Maher Cup winning team.
A generation later, in 1953, a single Maher Cup team could boast four Broad descendants: being two of George’s sons, Neville (‘Sharkey’) and Reg (‘Beau’), Fred’s elder son Baden; George’s grandson Ken Malligan, as well as Ron and Les Crowe, nephews of both George and Fred.
In the sixties Peter, Keith and Bob Broad continued the Maher Cup tradition and then moved on to play in richer fields.
They were a tough lot. George Broad (1893-1976), the eldest of the footballing brothers enjoyed a Show Day bout in the boxing tent every September. No quitter he rolled up regularly for thirty six years and was rarely bettered.
In 1949 his son Neville ‘Sharkey’ Broad (1925-2002) had a sixth of his body badly burnt in a truck mishap, but he returned to play Maher Cup.
Fred’s son Baden Broad (1921-2007) was eased into reserve grade a week after being being discharged from hospital. When the firsts’ centre didn’t turn up Baden decided to play both matches back-to-back. He had previously declared that ‘a good game of football will cure most complaints’.
Of Rocks and Gravel
Charles Broad (1853-1928) and wife Elizabeth West (1863-1950) arrived in 1894 at the start of the mining that created Wyalong and then West Wyalong. Charles had interests in mines and toiled underground in at least the Currajong, All Nations and Welcome Stranger, while Elizabeth’s father owned West’s Battery in Grenfell Street. Charles would later manage the battery. They raised nine children.
By the time Rugby League came west in 1911 the mines were nearing exhaustion. Following the coming of the rail in 1903 the countryside became increasingly dotted with wheat and sheep farms. The cockies needed transport infrastructure, particularly reliable roads to get their products to the rail-head.
The First Generation
Brothers George and Fred Broad (1900-1948) became shire contractors – forming roads, constructing culverts, crushing rock, spreading gravel, grading and rolling. In 1921 they were based out at Mildil a farming location eight miles west. George was Mildil’s captain, coach, its club delegate and hooker. Fred played centre. They were a good enough side to beat West Wyalong and in 1922 when the New South Wales Rugby League proposed the formation of Group 9 tiny Mildil was one of the twelve suggested teams.
George and Fred played in West Wyalong’s first ever Maher Cup challenge in August 1923. By 1925 the team had ended a fourteen match Cootamundra run with younger brothers Alf Broad (1904-1975) and John Broad (1908-1999) also in the pack.
The older pair continued to expand their contracting businesses, building up plant and employing locals in their gangs.
Alf Broad worked at the cordial plant and in 1935 started his own soft drinks business. Although he sustained a seriously broken leg in a Barmedman match in 1929 he returned to play Maher Cup into the 1930s. With his mother, wife and father-in-law deeply involved with the Salvation Army, much of his life was focused on community – for example as a hospital donor, fire brigade member, office holder at the MUIOOF Lodge and foundation member of both the Lions Club and the Meals on Wheels service. He enlisted but after being badly injured afyer falling from a truck in camp he returned home where the bowling club offered him the greenkeeper’s job. For a while he managed the Burcher Hotel, before returning to cordials.
John Broad (also known as Jack) joined the railways and was transferred about until settling in Temora, where he played Maher Cup alongside Eric Weissel. Studying to be an accountant he eventually set up a practice there. The firm still operates and includes an office in West Wyalong. John was also a top class cricketer. His accountant son Jim Broad later player Maher Cup for Temora 1957-58 and was part of the Clayton Cup-winning team judged the best country side in the State.
George Broad teamed up for a while with local League hero Bill Brogan in a road contracting business. But the partnership soured and ended. In 1927 Big Bad Bill was convicted for a violent attack on George who was spreading gravel on West Wyalong’s main street. George admitted that he had previously taken “a bite out of Brogan’s cheek”.
Three Broad brothers, William, George and Fred, married three Castle sisters. Another Castle sister, Bridie, married William Crowe the father of Ron ‘Dookie’ Crowe and Les Crowe.
George and Bertha’s children included:
- Ettie Broad who married Frank Malligan. Their son Ken Malligan played Maher Cup.
- Dulcie Broad who married John (Jack) Apps
- Mavis Broad, the Riverina champion sprinter in her teens, married Graham David Gordon.
- Reg ‘Beau’ Broad (1923-2002) and Neville ‘Sharkey’ (1925-2002) who both played Maher Cup from 1946-1953.
- Vera ‘Biddy’ Broad, a champion hockey player, she married Wyalong coach Bill Kirkwood in 1949.
- Lola, who also married a professional footballer, Paddy Farrell in 1948.
- Eric Broad (1932-2010)
- Darrell ‘Dags’ Broad (1933-2013), who played Maher Cup 1955-1965.
- Barry Broad (1935-2015). Barry also played but not in the Maher Cup
George involved his sons in the contracting business and was eager to assist the community with preparing sporting fields. A Rugby League club committee man for decades he was never shy to express his opinion about selection and other matters – often in print in the West Wyalong Advocate.
Brother Fred Broad was considered an exceptionally talented player. While he loved his football he only made 15 Maher Cup appearances from 1923 to 1939. The priority of the time was making a living. His roadworks business often took him and his gang far from town. In 1927 when working nearby he played for Forbes. In 1937 as sons Baden and Kevin Broad (1923-1989) were growing into superb young players Fred, aged 37, made a comeback for Wyalong. The following year with Baden they became the first Maher Cup father/son combination and West Wyalong won the Group 9 grand final.
In 1940 Fred secured a contract near Henty, working with sons Baden and Kevin (just 17 years old) as well as former Wyalong players ‘Bunk’ Keen and D. Todd. The undefeated Henty team were adjudged the best in the bush and were awarded the Clayton Cup. The following year the form was modest, with Baden being ejected for the season following a fight, while cousin Reg ‘Beau’ Broad came down from Wyalong to join to team, only to have his leg broken.
Returning from the south Fred and Baden mined tin out at Gibsonvale, during the war years as well as wolfram at Euratha, and later manganese at Fifield. The war meant that most football was suspended, but boxing wasn’t. The Wyalong ‘Patriotic Carnival’ bouts in 1944 drew a £200 gate, more than all but the biggest pre-war Rugby League matches. Baden showed great promise and became the Riverina cruiserweight champion.
At 45 Fred stripped again for Gibsonvale after the war and was highly regarded for his refereeing. He mined at Gibsonvale and Lake Cargelligo with his sons before succumbing early to illness and death in 1948, aged just 48.
The Second Generation
The next generation of Broad Maher Cup players were George’s sons: Reg ‘Beau’ Broad (1923-2002), Neville ‘ Sharkey Broad (1925-2002) and Darrell ‘Dags’ Broad (1933-2013); George’s eldest daughter Ettie’s son Ken Malligan (1935- ); Fred’s boys Baden Broad (1921-2007) and Kevin Broad (1923-1989) and John Broad’s son Jim Broad (1937- ) who played for Temora.
Below is a chronology of their involvement with football in the first ten post-war years.
1945. Australians were still fighting in Borneo when Group 9 restarted the Cup. Baden was key for the Wyalong’s first challenge on 4 July. The return of Kevin from army duty was keenly anticipated but he wasn’t discharged in time. Both brothers played in the challenge against Cowra. However Cowra which could draw from the two military camps and at last embraced the indigenous talent from Erambie, were unbeatable.
While Fred at 45 had his last game for Gibsonvale it seemed like most of the other Broads were boxing. Teenagers Eric and Darrell had bouts at Wyalong, while Reg took on Barmedman football legend Artie Kelly at his Royal Hotel and ended up in court.
1946. As ‘Granny Broad’ turned 85 four of her grandsons were in the Maher Cup team of 29 June 1946 – Kevin, Baden, Neville ‘Sharkey’ and Reg ‘Beau”. Neville and Reg joined the ‘Toppie’ side Mallee Plains and Kevin and Baden were hailed as brilliant.
1947 was an eventful year, with good football teams in the tiniest of the Bland Shire villages. Not only West Wyalong but Gibsonvale, Ungarie and Mallee Plains made Maher Cup challenges. Internationals came out to the Riverina to coach like never before, George Watt to Boorowa, Herb Narvo at Cootamundra and Joe Jorgenson at Junee. When a new ground was proposed at West Wyalong Fred Broad offered to bring the bulldozer in from Lake Cargelligo and for Kevin and Baden to do the work gratis.
Baden drove his family and George down to the Easter Show. Late at night, on their way back near Marulan they were shaken up when their truck was hit head-on, the driver of the other vehicle dead.
And West Wyalong on 17 May trounced Young 14-2 to take the Cup. In the team where Baden, Kevin and Reg as well as Reg’s brothers-in-law Bill Kirkwood and Paddy O’Farrell. However Young successfully protested that Mallee Plains players should not have been selected. Meanwhile 14 year old Darrell Broad was the hero of the 6’7 team that won the Junee Schoolboys Carnival.
In 1948 the town celebrated having The Cup displayed in shop windows for the first time in 8 years. Kevin, Baden, and Reg were present with Bill Kirkwood the captain-coach. In November the town mourned the loss of Fred Broad.
Now in his late fifties George Broad had a fight at the West Wyalong Show in 1949, while daughter Vera married Bill Kirkwood and sister Lola Broad’s husband Paddy Farrell took over the coaching from Bill. Imposing a strict no-train-no-game policy Wyalong regained the Maher Cup. The Advocate reported that the Club was a family affair with Baden, Kevin, George and Neville on the committee, while Fred’s widow Flo was the patron. Neville was badly burnt while inspecting a truck while Baden decided to retire and then decided otherwise.
1950. George Broad was still tent boxing and increasingly expressing his opinion in the Advocate. The club was divided over selection matters. Bill Kirkwood and Paddy Farrell refused to play in the Maher Cup team when Reg Broad wasn’t selected. The team lost.
Baden bought a yellow and red Holden and started a taxi service from outside the Post Office, he became a selector, refereed junior matches, and was rushed to hospital in a serious condition, but was quickly back on the field. Darrell Broad, Barry Broad and Ken Malligan were all involved in West Wyalong’s incredibly successful junior team, the Half-Moons. Granny Broad passed away. Darrell got concussion, Kevin and Baden were sent off and Kevin’s son Bobby was the team’s mascot.
1951. Baden was suspended for the season for fighting in a Sunday game against Young. He turned up at a West Wyalong v Young match late in the season and attacked Young legend and publicist Bill Kearney, who he blamed for his sentence. Threatening to kill Kearney the matter went to court. West Wyalong won the Maher Cup with Kevin and Reg, brother-in-law Bill Kirkwood, and cousins Les and Ron Crowe. Kevin injured his knee and took up golf, with considerable success.
1952. In the summer Fred Crampton, who had form as a street brawler, died two weeks after a Christmas Eve fight in front of Baden Broad’s house. Baden was widely reported as being charged with manslaughter. However the matter was quickly dropped as he was back playing football iwithin weeks, switching to fullback to considerable acclaim.
George was enjoying life, walking his successful greyhound Vera’s Gift and having two more grandchildren born on the same day, while also being the greenkeeper at the bowling club. Knee better, Kevin returned to the team briefly but seemed more interested in golf and bowls and the idea to develop a Country Club out the Tallimba Road. Neville is fined for SP betting at the White Tank Hotel.
1953. West Wyalong without any significant imports performed poorly in a season when the Maher Cup crowds and standard of play reached record highs. At a stormy meeting on the eve of their second challenge match secretary Arthur Cooper complained that division has wrecked Wyalong’s football for four years. This came as Neville Broad and Paddy Farrell brought on a no confidence motion in the selectors, seconded by Ken Malligan and supported by George Broad. It all ended up with Baden appointed as a selector and the teamed being trounced 30-8 at Temora.
Elsewhere Darrell Broad, Ken Malligan and friends were hauled before the court after entering Con Bylos’s Tivoli picture theatre late and night, playing the piano, dancing on stage and ending up falling through the screen. Kevin and Baden constructed a dam for the County Club and got the phone connected to their taxi rank outside the Post Office. Neville is fined for SP betting, at the Royal Hotel this time.
1954. There was alarm that the football club may fold when no-one was prepared to sit on the executive. Without any Broads in the team West Wyalong suffered an unusually heavy defeat of 48-12 in the Maher Cup at Cootamundra. Kevin excelled at Golf, Darrell went to Camden to play football, and a stack of footballers, including Baden, Ken Malligan and Bill Kirkwood where caught drinking at the White Tank on a Sunday.
The Later Years. In 1955 West Wyalong bought Darrell Fazio and Algie Metcalfe from Cootamundra but still couldn’t wrest The Cup. The next year they added Lionel Wheatley who like Fazio and Metcalfe played for Newtown and then Cootamundra. On 26 May 1956 West Wyalong won the Maher Cup after five years of loss and then fought off an iimpressive eleven challenges. Baden Broad, now aged 36, and Les and Ron Crowe were regulars.
Lionel Wheatley, the coach for 1957, was a fitness fanatic (for the times). When he stood down Baden Broad for non-attendance at training, cousin Ron Crowe stood down in protest. However reconciliation followed and Wheatley lead West Wyalong to six Maher Cup wins.
However as the second generation of Broads left Maher Cup football so did Wyalong’s fortunes.
The Third Generation
Although they had short Maher Cup runs in 1958 and 1960, and won the Group 9 competition in 1960, it was not until 1965, with Ken Malligan at fullback, Baden’s sons Peter at half-back and Keith at lock, and with the evergreen Ron Crowe at prop that West Wyalong became the dominant team in Group 9. As well Kevin’s son Bob Broad graduated to the top grade in 1967. From 20 August 1966 to 3 May 1969 they went undefeated in the Maher Cup.
However the main game was now the Group 9 (later Group 9/20) competition, with Wyalong taking out the grand-finals of 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1970. When Riverina played New Zealand in 1967 Keith and Bob Broad represented along with Ron Crowe, while Peter Broad was the reserve. Bob played in the Sydney competition with Penrith from 1968 and later Souths, and Keith followed to Penrith in 1969. Peter also went to Penrith but returned home to captain West Wyalong in 1970 and 1971 before spending some years with Goulburn Workers.
As the Maher Cup era closed in 1971, more Broads were emerging. Wayne Broad played in the NSW Combined High Schools team against Queensland while cousin Dennis Kirkwood was a reserve.
West Wyalong Advocate
Other newspapers available via Trove.
Campbell, Peter (2011). From the Goldfields to the Mallee Men: a history of the West Wyalong Rugby League Football Club, one hundred years – 1911-2010.
PS1. Would love to gain your recollections and knowledge as to where corrections are required.
PS2. Alick or Alex Broad was a great sprinter/winger who played Maher Cup for West Wyalong in 1940. As far as I can see he was not related.