A Brief History of the Maher Cup Clubs in Graphs

Graphically representing the number of matches played by each club helps illustrate the highs and lows of their footballing journeys over the 52 years of the Maher Cup history, and provides the basis of a brief club history.  Failure to capture the Cup meant twiddling thumbs and fretting  on the outcome of the next draw.Cootamundra graph

Cootamundra (224 matches). Playing 62 games more than any other team, Coota started with a bang in 1922 winning in its first game under Phil Regan – the first paid-player coach in the bush. They didn’t let up. Regan’s 1920s blue and whites, featuring players such as Eric Weissel, Jack Kingston, Bill Lesberg and Gordon Hinton utterly dominated their opponents. With a little help they even took on England. During the Depression years, after Regan departed, it all fell apart for a while.  1935 saw the purchase of five paid players, an embarrassing loss to Tumut, and the imports instantly sacked.  Coota rose to the top again in 1939 with a team composed mainly of local ex-De La Salle boys.  After the war Herb Narvo (1947) and Johnny Graves (1954) led teams of extraordinary quality. Reverting to mainly local players the town continued to be consistently competitive into the 1960s. Continue reading

Ron Crowe

Ron "Dookie" Crowe

Ron “Dookie” Crowe

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 manContinue reading

The Real Old Boys of the Maher Cup

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

Belluga is Barmedman

Not everybody in Maher Cup Country loved rugby league.

E.O. Schlunke of Hope Vale, Reefton wrote prolifically about rural life in the Riverina.  The stories are not pastoral in the manner of John O’Brien’s Around the Boree Log. They are usually vignettes with a dark edge.

In 1956 he published a collection called The Village Hampden in which the eponymous story positions the Belluga Rugby League Club as the town’s central institution. Although the Club sees its role to foster community and local pride, it has become menacingly authoritarian, seeking to control many aspects of daily life.   The story goes….hampdenvsmall

Tom Matheson, a young school teacher, has arrived in town.

“It was a small town of only a thousand or so people. Normally one wouldn’t expect a town of that size to field a first-grade team that could put up a good showing against towns five to ten times its size, and even hold the group’s challenge cup at times for a significant part of the season” (p.203).

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Population Change in Maher Cup Country

In 1954 the Boorowa News provided the following estimates of town and district populations of the twelve “Group Nine towns”.

Cowra: town 7,000; district 15,000
Tumut: 3,500 and 13,000 (including Adelong and Batlow)
Young: 4,500 and 12,000
Cootamundra: 6,000 and 10,000 Continue reading