Not everybody in Maher Cup Country loved rugby league.
In 1956 E.O. Schlunke of Hope Vale, Reefton, published a short story called The Village Hampden. It positions the local rugby league club as the town’s central institution. Although with a social mission, the club had become menacingly authoritarian, controlling everyday community life. Schlunke’s description reminds me of the Barrier Industrial Council of Broken Hill, but in an agrarian setting.
Tom Matheson, a young school teacher, has arrived in the Riverina town of Belluga.
“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).