Of these 3,233 men some 150 played in the Maher Cup for two different clubs, 19 for three clubs and just two, Clarrie Joyce and Frank Blundell played for four. Clarrie Joyce was a builder from Tumut who played in the first Maher Cup match back in 1920. He then joined Gundagai in 1921, West Wyalong in 1923, and Cootamundra, where he settled, in 1926. He died when still quite Young. Blundell the energetic father of squash champion Heather McKay, hailed from Queanbeyan and played there as well. He was a baker and like Joyce he had a occupation that enabled him to easily relocate his work. Continue reading
There is probably no-one as revered in Maher Cup football as Ron Crowe. In 1965 when he was aged just 32 the new Rugby League ground at West Wyalong was named in his honour. When in 1962 he accepted an offer to play for Souths we all became Rabbitoh fans at Toppy school. Ron and brother Les cut wood in the mallee country. My dad, a farmer, bought strainer posts from the Crowe brothers and used to point to them and say, they’re just like ‘Dookie’, a little bit bigger, and stronger and tougher than your regular posts. Off the field Ron Crowe was a most gentle man. Continue reading
After the war increasingly enormous efforts were made to wrest the Holy Grail and awash local pubs, cafes and sundry businesses in Maher Cup money.
Legendary internationals with plenty of fire still in the bellies went west in the late 1940s – Joe Jorgenson to Junee, Herb Narvo to Cootamundra, Clem Kennedy to Grenfell, Nevyl Hand to Gundagai and George Watt to Boorowa. Barmedman scored probably the best man never to play for his country – Tom Kirk. The results were mixed. Narvo, Watt and Kennedy brought the Cup home – albeit all briefly. Jorgenson disappeared. Hand failed and was replaced – but phoenix-like became the inspirational leader of possibly the best side ever formed in country NSW. Fred De Belin, Kangaroo and partner with Harry Bath in the second row of Balmain’s 1946 premiership winning team, was intending to follow suit. Continue reading
With some of the Maher Cup team compositions not recorded by local newspapers it is very unlikely that we can ever be certain of how many matches some prolific players participated in. However it is clear that the following men lined up for at least 50 games, some probably a few more:
Jack Kingston (at least 50 appearances from 1925-1932). This renowned international lock forward who toured with the Kangaroos to Britain in 1929, was a Cootamundra lad. He also had a stint as captain-coach for arch-rivals Young. Outside the Maher Cup world he also played for Leeton, Nowra and Western Suburbs. Continue reading
I have created a list of more than 3,300 people who have played for the Maher Cup. I believe it includes more than 99% of players 1920-1971. Often names are miss-spelled in newspaper reports. Frequently surnames only are printed. Two newspapers covering the same match can produce differing player lists. Match programs give the selected team, not the team that took to the field – so checking, expansion and correction of the data will be ongoing. Continue reading
No matter how tough and physically damaging Maher Cup matches were there were many warriors who just kept on battling on, long after their ears had turned to cauliflowers. A handful played for more than 20 seasons.
Below are a very select group of stoic stalwarts – men with a minimum of 18 seasons between their first and last Maher Cup matches. Continue reading
Peter Castrission has contributed the following:
I am Vic Castrission’s nephew and I live in Canberra. I am 59 and a retired public servant so I still spend a lot of time in Gundagai. I would like to give you some information about the Niagara Cafe in Gundagai and my uncles and fathers involvement in Rugby League, Group Nine and the Maher Cup. Continue reading
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.
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