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.
Although little remembered outside of Maher Cup memories, many of those who witnessed Bill Lesberg’s work on the paddocks of the south-west slopes and the Riverina in the 1920s considered him the greatest goal-kicker to ever play Rugby League in country New South Wales.
Lesberg played at fullback for Cootamundra. There was another brilliant goal-kicker in that side, one Eric Weissel. However “Berg” almost always got the nod. His speciality was the drop goal, worth two points, and the half-way line was certainly not too far. The left foot was preferred but either acceptable. Converting from the touch line was always likely. Teams had to factor that any ball that went to Lesberg in their own half was likely to result in a field goal. Continue reading
It must have been special to see this gifted athlete and footballing genius play in the days before the city folk and the nation noticed him. Some say those were his best years – witnessed by lucky punters on local paddocks – mostly at Cootamundra.
Eric Weissel, “Weissel the Wizard”, “Ec” to his friends, was a try-scoring, goal-kicking genius. In the Riverina of the 1920s and early 30s his performances helped develop the Maher Cup into a footballing phenomenon.
Playing for small town clubs all his life, his performances were not commonly witnessed by Sydney commentators and experts. Although his brilliance may never have been properly appreciated outside Maher Cup country, many local witnesses consider him to be possibly the best five-eighth the world will ever see.
He came from an extraordinary sporting family and below is an attempt at recording some of their history. Continue reading
Cootamundra Herald 22 March 1949 reported that:
The Gundagai Rugby League has secured the services of Kangaroo forward, Neville [should read Nevyl] Hand, as coach for the 1949 season. Hand, who is 26 years of age, is 6ft. 1 in, and weighs over 15 stone. He was one of the outstanding forwards of the Kangaroos, which last month returned home, from the tour of England and France. It is expected that Hand will arrive in Gundagai at the weekend.
Gundagai 1951. Nevyl Hand with the Maher Cup. Back Row L-R: Jack Lindley, Norm Bounader, Owie Hourn, Len Koch, Noel Goodsall, Harry Gibbs, George ‘Foo’ Ballard, Ron Bower, Des Field, Jim Sullivan, Bill Edwards. Front Row L-R: Trevor Lawson, Kevin Warden, Nevyl Hand, John Ryan, Bill Gardiner, John Biscaya, Harold Etherington
The following article is from the Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser Tuesday 1 July 1941, available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article130455370?
Italian Prisoner Saw Captor Play Football at Griffith
Mutual Surprise in Battlefield Meeting – Roped in by ‘Musso’ While Holidaying Continue reading
In April 1920 Edward John Maher stormed into Tumut from Young with his wife Ronnie and children to take over the Wynyard Hotel. Known as E.J. or simply Ted, he was a young man going places. Within a few months he had ticked off the following: cup donated to the local Rugby Union, rules for the same cup drawn up, a local football team captained, appointed chairman of the Tumut Ramblers Football Club, refereed and ran the line, led the change from Union to League, committee member for the agricultural show and turf clubs, office bearer at the tennis club, regular at the Tumut Rifle Club, purchaser of the local Tattersalls licence, and player of cricket. Continue reading