Catholics, Labour and Rugby League

The 20 most common surnames in NSW are ranked thus: Smith, Jones, Williams, Brown, Wilson, Taylor, Nguyen, Johnson, Martin, White, Anderson, Walker, Thompson, Lee, Harris, Ryan, Robinson, Kelly & King.

The most common surnames of the more than 3,200 Maher Cup players are:  Smith, Kelly, Brown, Ryan, Thompson, Miller, Hall, Williams, Broad, Lawrence, Turner, Anderson, Crowe, Edwards, Walsh, Murphy, Harris, Davis, Lemon, McDonald, Murray & O’Brien.

Two things stand out.  First there are ‘Maher Cup families’ who have produced footballers down the generations, such as the Broads of West Wyalong, Lawrences of Barmedman and Turners of Junee. Second is that Irish names feature much more prominently in Maher Cup country than you would expect: Kelly, Ryan, Crowe, Walsh, Murphy and O’Brien.

Looking at population figures (from 1947 as mid-point in Maher Cup history) the graph below shows how the Catholic population varied from the NSW average of 22.7%.

Religion 1947 by LGA

Continue reading

Wal Galvin

Wal Galvin

Wal Galvin Source: image posted on Cootamundra Remembers by Bernice Bristow

Wal Galvin Source: image posted on Cootamundra Remembers by Bernice Bristow

Some men are remembered fondly in Maher Cup Country because they were fine and fair players. Some are remembered because they excelled at administration. Others are etched in our memory for their indefatigable team loyalty. A few are remembered for being painstaking recorders of history – for their commitment to keeping the memories alive.

Wal Galvin is remembered for all of the above.

Born in 1927 he was the youngest son of Owen Galvin, a sharefarmer of Yeo Yeo Road near Stockinbingal.

A teenager during the war years there was little football to be played. However in 1946 Wal played for the Stock team against local clubs like Wallendbeen and the Old Boys and Railway teams from Cootamundra. Continue reading

3,300 Maher Cup Players or there abouts

So far 3,233 accounted for with a few others still in hiding. The latest alphabetic list of players is here. The chronological match and team members list with scorers is here.

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

The Origins of Rugby League in Maher Cup Country

It took a decade, 1911-1921, for Rugby League to succeed Union in what became Maher Cup country.  It did not set up in competition to it – in most places it simply replaced it.  Below is a brief history.

The Sydney competition under ‘Northern Union’ rules, as it was often referred to then, with its 13 players and the playing of the ball, commenced in 1908. Spectators were excited by the open flow of the game and players preferred it. By 1911, with a rapidly growing fan base, a most successful tour by the British Lions, and defections from the Wallabies, League had become ascendant in the city. However country towns didn’t just follow fashion and fall into line. Continue reading

Minorities in Maher Cup Country

Maher Cup Country was and is a pretty culturally homogenous place, but there was always enough of a mix to make it interesting.

An hour before the first ever Maher Cup match Otto (Boydie) Beegling, the butcher’s son, and a highly respected young man from Tumut, warmed up the crowd when he took on a Adelong rival in a challenge footrace at the oval.  Eric Weissel, Bill Lesberg, Eric Kuhn, Charlie Schwartzel, Henry, Les and Tony Gelfius, Joe Steinke, Paul Butz, Len Koch and a 100 or more others with German names helped bring home the Cup to excited communities. Continue reading

Ron Crowe

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

Fred De Belin

Fred De Belin

 A young Fred De Belin in the RAAF

A young Fred De Belin in the RAAF

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

2LF’s History of the Maher Cup

greshamThis old book from 1940, probably the first attempt to record in any detail the history of the Maher Cup, has been kindly shared with this site by a player of the time. The book promoted 2LF’s live broadcasts which had commenced in 1938.  Initially there were complaints from clubs that these broadcasts ‘hurt the gate’. However they did much to develop a deep interest in the game throughout the region at a time when people huddled around their radios for entertainment. Continue reading

Who Made The Most Maher Cup Appearances?

Cootamundra Junior Rugby League Team 1921

Cootamundra Junior Rugby League Team 1921

This is a quick edit of an article written four years ago which suggested that Jack Watson of Cootamundra may have played more Maher Cup matches than any other person.

I was wrong.  The J. Watson who played Maher Cup for Coota 1922-1924 was Jim Watson, while Jack Watson played from 1925.

I will leave the rest of the article as it was.  It now looks like the competition (if there ever was one) to identify the most prolific Maher Cup player is a very tight one, with five men making between 64 and 66 appearances.  When I check on my latest team lists there will be some changes.  Players who perhaps should be added to any top 10 are Ray Sheedy of Cootamundra and Jackie Brown of Young.

The old post continues:

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

Complete List of Players

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