My memories of the Maher Cup are through the eyes of a young boy and teenager.
Before the War, my father took me on a pushbike to Fisher Oval where I saw my first match. When I was older, Dad and I spent the day in Young having travelled there by a special train. Young must have won that day, as I can vaguely remember the elation of Bill Kearney, the coach of the Young team. Besides, if we had won, the train would have tooted many times on approaching Cootamundra. The aforementioned Bill Kearney was probably a very nice chap but to us Coota kids, he was the ‘devil incarnate’, representing all that was evil in the world. Young was our main rival: other teams did not matter so much. Young had the radio station 2LF and we would listen to all the matches that we were not attending. The broadcast had a theme song:
You’ve got to be a football player,
to get along with a beautiful girl.
You’ve got to be a touchdown son-of-a- gun…etc
Bill Kearney would review each match and we hated that! I can remember one match on the radio when Young defeated Coota 3-2. It was a hard match played in pouring rain and mud. Barney Gibson scored a try for Young and the imported George Watt kicked a penalty goal for Coota. We were devastated by the result.
There were at least two apocryphal stories about the Maher Cup:
1. One Wednesday afternoon, Dame Nellie Melba alighted from the train at Cootamundra to find only a skeleton railway staff and welcoming party. Everyone else was at the Maher Cup match and Dame Nellie was not at all impressed. Even the schools would let their students go early on match days to catch the beginning of the games. Later, Maher Cup matches were played on Saturday afternoons.
2. Father Morrison played on the wing for Cootamundra. He had a funeral service at 2.30pm. Never, it was claimed, had a funeral service been so garbled and the funeral hearse travelled through the streets at great speed. Father Morrison ran onto the field with his teammates at 3.15pm.