In Maher Cup country Greek families, mostly from the small island of Kythera, contributed significantly to community life and to football. Pictured below is Vic Castrission owner of the iconic Niagara Cafe at Gundagai, and as the president of the Gundagai Rugby League Club, the holder of the Maher Cup.
Kevin Day writes: On Fathers’ Day this year I was given the book ‘Uncommon Heroes’ by John Ellicott. I was particularly interested in the chapter on Group 9 and the history of the Maher Cup.
In 1959 I was working for the Electricity Commission of NSW. We were building a wood pole transmission line from Murrumburrah to Boorowa. I was sent from Sydney in late March to work there for 3 months at the construction depot. I was 22 at the time. I was able to secure board with a Mrs Franklin and her grandson I think his name was Reg. The house was at the entrance to the Murrumburrah Showground.
Below is a chart showing the winner of each Maher Cup match through time. Where there was a draw it has been coded for the holder.
The colours have been selected to best represent the team colours. While I’m confident that teams colours have been pretty constant for Tumut, Gundagai, Cootamundra, Temora, West Wyalong and Young, others have not been. If you have further information about when and how team colours changed I would be most interested. Continue reading
Games That Changed The Game No.4
People often tell me that things were simpler in the old days. Less red tape. We just got on with it lad. Hmmm but not aways. In Maher Cup Country, when footballing matters mattered things could get quite bogged down. People could be a little pernickety.
In deep Depression days, in 1932, Temora paid for a new captain coach – twenty-five year old Harry Thompson. He was a useful half-back from Brisbane, a Queensland representative. He became the other half to Eric Weissel, who now at 29, and at the very top of his game, was the chief draw-card in Group 9. Continue reading
This website/blog owes its existence to John O’Reilly. In the 1950s he made our small town football the dramatic heart of our lives. Women were seduced by his mellifluous tones, children were drawn in by his rich word pictures. No one has done it better.
My mother hated the drinking and gambling that she associated with many of the men of rugby league – but she loved listening to the calls of John O’Reilly on 2LF. On Saturday afternoons we would gather around the radio.
I’d grown up listening to John O’Reilly calling the Maher Cup. I still think he was the best footy caller I’ve ever heard on radio. He had a silky-smooth voice, and he was incredibly accurate. …… I wanted to follow John to the big smoke. I just hoped I’d one day be as good as he was.
The Maher Cup inspired many stories, poems and at least one published song, The Maher Cup : March Song, written by W.H. Howard of Tumut and Junee many years ago.
The song has recently been recorded by the Choir of the Southern Cross on 10 November 2013 at the Young Town Hall. Listen to it.
Like most men his age Tom Davis enlisted for the Great War. In 1917 he fought on the Western Front, suffered from trench fever, influenza, scabies and finally was gassed just two months before the armistice. He returned home in 1919 to be classified as “medically unfit” and to be now known in his community as “Digger” Davis. Nothing unusual there.
But Tom Davis was a non-citizen. He was from the “mish”. He was in the language of the day, a darkie, an Abo.
Davis had enlisted at Cowra in January 1916 with a group of men from the Erambie reserve. Most of these eager recruits were discharged just a few months later as not being suitable due to their race. Undeterred Tom Davis went over to Goulburn in October and enlisted again. The carnage in the trenches of the Western Front had by that time changed attitudes – anyone would do, and the army promptly shipped him off to France.
My memories of the Maher Cup are through the eyes of a young boy and teenager.
Before the War, my father took me on a pushbike to Fisher Oval where I saw my first match. When I was older, Dad and I spent the day in Young having travelled there by a special train. Young must have won that day, as I can vaguely remember the elation of Bill Kearney, the coach of the Young team. Continue reading
I was born at Young in 1944 and lived there until 1960. In those days we knew little of Sydney football. Everything was Group 9 or Maher Cup. Radio 2LF at Young had John O’Reilly broadcasting the Maher Cup games. O’Reilly was a great football broadcaster. He could make the dullest game sound exciting. I’ve heard they are going to put Ray Warren and Frank Hyde into some hall of fame of rugby league commentators but O’Reilly should be there too. He later came to Sydney and described the league on the ABC.