In Maher Cup country you may have had to be a football hero to get along with a beautiful girl…as the song goes, but you didn’t need to be an International Australian representative. However 40 men on the Kangaroos Register (13 locals and 27 imports) did both represent the nation and play Maher Cup. In some 314 matches (43% of the total), at least one past, current or future international participated. On 23 September 1925 at West Wyalong four such men took to the field: Bill Brogan and Dick Vest for the home team, and Eric Weissel and Jack Kingston for the challengers. All were locals. It was indicative of the quality in the early days and a hint of why the Cup became such a phenomenon. Having phenomenal players helps. Continue reading
This is the first instalment of a brief history of Group 9 Rugby League.
Rugby League emerged in the Riverina in 1911, at West Wyalong. By 1921 it had replaced Union throughout the southwest. The NSW Rugby League, recognising the need to join up clubs and to organise this rapidly expanding sport, proposed prior to the 1922 season to divide the rural parts of the state into twelve groups. Group 9 was to include the teams Harden, Wagga, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Tumut, Temora, Barmedman, Wyalong, West Wyalong, Mildil, Ariah Park and Ardlethan. Continue reading
Andy Paterson, originally from Batlow, was a teacher at Bundawarrah School, five miles from Temora, from 1934-1939. Below are some reminiscences he penned in a letter to Les Gillard in 1986 upon Temora Rugby League Club preparing for a reunion. The letter is edited. 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
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