Young v Grenfell 9 August 1939

Games That Changed the Game No.3

The Grenfell Greens had not achieved much in Maher Cup football. Until 1938 their challenges had been limited to just four – all lost, with just 13 points earned and  80 conceded.

However by the late thirties the best teams – Young, West Wyalong, Temora and Cowra. were from the northern part of Maher Cup country.    Grenfell was keen to get into action against its traditional rivals.  Not having enough local talent they decided to go and buy a team. Continue reading

Nevyl Hand

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.

Nevyl Hand with the Maher Cup

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

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Cootamundra v Canowindra 29 August 1928

Games that Changed the Game No.2

Roddy Gilmore, farmer of Canowindra, was a pretty useful second rower. He worked a 600 acre soldier settler’s block, carved from the North Bangaroo Estate in 1924. It was said that he “cut off the legs of his working trousers to make his football shorts for his first game (Worboys, p22).

On Wednesday 29 August 1928 he played for the Maher Cup against the champions of the south, Cootamundra. Continue reading

Belluga is Barmedman

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.hampdenvsmall

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).

Continue reading

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

Cootamundra v Tumut 6 June 1923

Games That Changed The Game No. 1

This is the first in a series.

“And the rain it gently, pattered down! And the lovely green flats of the ‘Bidgiee silhoutted, as it were, against the sky line as the special train from Tumut, with footballers and supporters aboard steamed over the railway bridge yesterday afternoon. The footballers’ quest was the Maher Cup — they were going to capture it for Tumut— so they said. And their supporters were going to stir them on to deeds of derring do”.

(The Gundagai Independent, 7 June 1923).

Background

Let us step back from the poetry. It was a Wednesday afternoon – the 16th challenge for the Maher Cup was set to be played at Fisher Park Cootamundra. It was less than three years since Ted Maher put the Cup into play. Things were starting to get very serious.  The rules were read scrupulously, and Rule 9 was a problem. Continue reading

10 Reasons why the Maher Cup was such a Success

The Maher Cup was a special event. It dominated the sporting life of towns from Tumut to West Wyalong like no other. To represent your town in the Maher Cup meant you were somebody. Before the Second World War when it was played on Wednesday afternoons, shopping stopped and main streets became abandoned. It became a metaphor for a sporting event significantly more important than  others within its field. Continue reading