New Gallery

You may notice changes in the Maher Cup Gallery page.  A separate gallery has been created for each town with the pictures presented as a controllable slideshow.temp3

If you have pictures you want to contribute to the site you could scan them and email to me at, or, upload them on the Maher Cup Country Facebook page, post them to me (I promise to promptly send everything back after scanning) at 6/51 Piper St Lilyfield 2040, or call on 0448-440-110, as I can  travel to scan pictures and collect information. Regards Neil


Harden Brothers in Arms

This great video from about 1960 is courtesy of Matt from the Twin Town Times. It includes Harden v Temora and Harden v Young. How many players can you identify?

The Cup Is Back In Coota

At Wyalong and Tumut, Wagga and Cowra, and all the places in-between, people are preparing for the Maher Cup Reunion at the Country Club on Saturday 13 February. It look as though more than 120 folks may be coming. This impressive display at the Camera Arts Centre at 266 Parker Street has been prepared by Susan Chambers and Tisha McTavish.

Maher Cup display in the Camera Art Centre

Maher Cup display in the Camera Art Centre

There were 728 Maher Cup matches, approximately 3,000 players, total attendances would easily have topped a million people, and the memories are countless.

At Cootamundra, Fisher Park last hosted the ‘Holy Grail’ more than 45 years ago on 6th June 1970 with this team: Colin Powell, David Cook, Ron Shergold, John Kennedy, R. Miller, Peter Lawson, Barry Black, Tony Hardwick, Bill Miller, D. Luck, Bob Glanville, Brian Wilson, and Ray Gaffey.

Thanks Tisha McTavish for the photo

Thanks Tisha McTavish for the photos

Cootamundra’s final challenge for the Cup was at Alfred Oval, Young on 29th May 1971 with, according to Wal Galvin’s annotated program, the following players: Peter Lawson, L. Gehrig, Keith Thompson, Gary Luck, Ron Shergold, Jim Piffero, Col Powell, Bill Miller, Bob Sheedy, Mick O’Toole, Brian Wedgwood, Brian Wilson and Ray Gaffey.

Remember that the reunion is for anyone interested in preserving and sharing in memories of life and football in the golden age of our small towns and villages.  Places that were both united and divided by the determination to deliver The Old Tin Pot home by whatever means.

Maybe you, or your parents, or grandparents will find the same joy of being photographed with The Cup on 13 February as these folks below did way back: Continue reading

Old Films of the Maher Cup, People & Life in & around Harden-Murrumburrah

filmThese two 20 minute (approx) videos, linked below and now placed on You Tube, are from a found film reel that was given to Wal Galvin of Cootamundra on DVD. The creator is unknown. It is uncaptioned and silent. Two things are clear from watching.  They were amateur films shot in the early 1950s. The main town featured is Harden-Murrumburrah, with some film also from Young and Goulburn as well as from a farm.

It would be wonderful to fill in the gaps. Who are the people? What Rugby League matches are being played and where? (Roberts Park, Murrumburrah?) What about the other sports the buildings and towns?  So much to discover.  Please leave some comments if you know. Continue reading

Drawing the Barassi (Jim Keys) Line

The Barassi Line as determined by Ian Turner. Source: Wikipedia

The Barassi Line as determined by Ian Turner. Source: Wikipedia

Academic Ian Turner in 1978 invented the term Barassi Line to identify the border separating where men and boys played Australian Rules and where they preferred Rugby League. As you can see in the map it is all a bit too linear to be real. The only area along the line containing any significant population is the Riverina. So perhaps we can fine tune that line.

I must say I don’t like the line being called after  Ron Barassi – better to name it after a footballer who lived on the line and played Australian Rules on Saturday and Rugby League on Sunday – such as Eric Kuhn originally from Weethalle or Jim Keys from Gibsonvale.   So I’m calling my line the Jim Keys line. Continue reading


The idea of these short sound files of old newspaper articles is to prompt readers to share them with parents and grandparents who will remember the Maher Cup days.  The objective is to prompt memory, start discussions and re-engage with this history.  If you want me to record any particular reports of matches that a relative may have played in I’m most happy to.

Junee Footballers Caught in Floodwaters
Adventurous Trip in Futile Effort to Reach Cowra [for a Sunday match]. 4:34 mins.
Junee Southern Cross, reproduced in the Gundagai Independent, 27 July, 1950

Continue reading

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

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

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

John O’Reilly

John O’Reilly

oreilly1This website/blog owes its existence to John O’Reilly.  In the 1950s he made our small town football the dramatic heart of our lives. Women were seduced by his mellifluous tones, children were drawn in by his rich word pictures.  No one has done it better.

My mother hated the drinking and gambling that she associated with many of the men of rugby league – but she loved listening to the calls of John O’Reilly on 2LF.  On Saturday afternoons we would gather around  the radio.

Ray Warren has written:

I’d grown up listening to John O’Reilly calling the Maher Cup. I still think he was the best footy caller I’ve ever heard on radio. He had a silky-smooth voice, and he was incredibly accurate. …… I wanted to follow John to the big smoke. I just hoped I’d one day be as good as he was.

Continue reading