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

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).


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

Who Was Ted Maher?

Ted Maher

On Tuesday 4 May 1920 Edward John Maher stormed into Tumut from Young with his wife Ronnie and children to take over the Wynyard Hotel. Known as E.J. or simply Ted, he was a young man going places.  Within a few months he had ticked off the following – donated a Cup in his name to the local Rugby Union to be challenged for by teams up to a 150 miles distant; captained a local football team; appointed chairman of the Tumut Ramblers Football Club, refereed and ran  the line, led the change from Union to League, became a member for the agricultural show and turf club committees, as well as an office bearer at the tennis club, a regular at the Tumut Rifle Club, the purchaser of the local Tattersalls licence, and player of cricket. Continue reading

100 Years of Temora Rugby League 2014

Temora Rugby League is celebrating its centenary in 2014. Jim Woods in this embedded YouTube video was a key member of some very strong Temora teams in the 1930s. Temora defended the cup for ten consecutive matches in 1935-36.  Temora Rugby League

The DVD to celebrate the centenary was launched in August.   It is very professionally presented, very interesting, and costs $50. The money goes to junior football.  If you are interested in the Maher Cup it has plenty of information about the early days.

You can buy a copy from Fly In To Dan’s in Hoskins Street, Temora. They’re also available somewhere in Wagga.

Cootamundra The Dominant Team

Although Tumut is both the place of origin and place of rest for the Cup, Cootamundra was the heart of Maher Cup football. As you can see below Cootamundra was clearly the dominant side.  It was also the geographical and administrative centre of Maher Cup and Group 9 Football.

There were in my calculation 729 challenges between 1920 and 1971 for the Maher Cup. Continue reading