4 May 1920 : Ted Maher Comes to Tumut

Maher Cup Centenary

On Tuesday 4 May 1920 Edward John Maher motored into Tumut from Young with his wife Veronica (Ronnie) and three young children to take over the Wynyard Hotel. It was a quality hotel, with staff meeting tourists at the railway and arranged their onward travel up into the Snowy Mountains for fishing and sight-seeing.

Adelong and Tumut Express Friday 7 May 1920

Known as E.J. or simply Ted, and aged 32 he was a busy bloke going places. Within a year he had ticked off the following: donated a football cup in his name; 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; joined the committees of the agricultural society, the turf club and a tennis club; shot at the Tumut Rifle Club, purchased the local Tattersalls licence, and played cricket.

Later in life. Source: John Madigan. The Maher Cup and Tumut

His first love was probably cricket. He became patron of the local club and donated a bat to the Lizards cricket team, for whom he was an excellent batsman and useful bowler[1]. He was reported to be handy at being ‘able to knock up a century or two’ and had taken ‘ten wickets in an innings’.[2]  At football he played as a half or centre.  He was to played in two Maher Cup matches.

Born at Grant’s Corner outside Woodstock, Maher had establish a farm at Crowther, before swapping it for the local pub, the Calare Hotel in Bendick Murrell. He moved on to the grander Royal Hotel in Young before departing to the hill country. When he left Tumut in 1922 he continued in hotel businesses until his death in 1952.

Ted Maher in a Tumut team on 28 Aug. 1921. Probably vs Mascot from Sydney Source: Tumut RSL Club collection

His sporting cup was purchased in Sydney in 1919. It was much like others that businessmen, and particularly publicans, had long put up in Tumut and elsewhere for mutual promotion.  Some other football cups in play in the southwest in 1920 were West Wyalong’s Chigwidden Cup (publican); Shields’ Cup of Barmedman (publican), Monty Mellor Cup, Temora (publican); Junee’s Monsignor Buckley Cup (priest); Murrumburrah’s Bond Memorial Cup (barber); Cootamundra’s E.O. Mangan (storekeeper) and Prentice Cups (publican) and the Albion Cup, Grenfell (hotel). That the Maher Challenge Cup eventually became famous was a matter of timing and good fortune.

[1] The Lizards were drawn from the northern (sunny) side of Wynyard Street. The opposition were named the Polar Bears.

[2] Burrowa News, 1 April 1949, p.8., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article102815059

The Importance of Sydney Imports

While the Maher Cup was about small town locals battling against each other for bragging rights, to do so successfully usually required outside assistance.

For 40 years, beginning with Phil Regan of Glebe being paid by the burghers of Cootamundra in 1922 to captain and to coach some talented youngsters, the usual modus operandi for victory was to import a quality player or two, preferably with the skills to develop players.

Ten players from this match on 5 May 1951 at the SCG later played Maher Cup – five from each side.

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Barmedman Rugby League : a brief(ish) history to 1945

The mouse that roared. Regularly defeating towns ten times its size there was something special about Barmedman.   On Maher Cup Days the three pubs overflowed as the population of a few hundred became thousands.  If the Cup was a religion this was its Jerusalem.  Eric Schlunke captured the fanaticism in his thinly fictional short story Village Hampden.

This is an attempt to record some of Barmedman’s social and football history.

Queen Street in 1910 showing the now demolished newsagency, the imposing Barmedman Hotel and beyond the then modest Queensland Hotel.

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Phil Regan of Glebe and Cootamundra

Phil Regan (top left) lead the undefeated Maher Cup team in 1923. Others in shot are Ray Sheedy, Eric Weissel and Curtis 'Dick' Pellow. Source: Wal Galvin collection

Phil Regan (top left) led the undefeated Cootamundra Maher Cup team in 1923. Others in shot are Ray Sheedy, Eric Weissel and Curtis ‘Dick’ Pellow. Source: Wal Galvin collection

Phil Regan

He may or may not have been the first paid player-coach to leave  a top city club and take a country team to a higher level, but he was the best. Within weeks of taking up the job in July 1922 he had transformed a tired Cootamundra team into champions.

For the next five years he caught the train back to Coota for the football season, took board at a hotel and inspired and developed the local lads. Phil Regan led the team in 54 Maher Cup matches, prevailing in all but seven. Continue reading

Bill Maizey Popular Pugilist

Bill Maizey

Bill Maizey

Bill Maizey. Source: Ancestry.com

If you were tough enough to play Maher Cup you may as well make a quid in the ring as well. If you were good enough the money was better and boxing was probably not much harder than Rugby League Group 9 style.

Men successful in both arenas included Bill Brogan and Baden Broad from West Wyalong, Woody Field and Jockey Bourke at Gundagai, Harden’s Bernie McGrath, Coota legend Herb Narvo, Roy Plummer down at Wagga, Bob Banks from Tumut, Snowy Breasley at Junee, cherry man Alby Arabin and the notorious William George Maizey who played for Cowra in the 1930s. Continue reading

40 Internationals Who Played Maher Cup

In Maher Cup country you may have had to be a football hero to get along with a beautiful girl…as the song goes, but you didn’t need to be an International Australian representative. However 40 men on the Kangaroos Register (13 locals and 27 imports) did both represent the nation and play Maher Cup. In some 314 matches (43% of the total), at least one past, current or future international participated. On 23 September 1925 at West Wyalong four such men took to the field: Bill Brogan and Dick Vest for the home team, and Eric Weissel and Jack Kingston for the challengers.  All were locals.  It was indicative of the quality in the early days and a hint of why the Cup became such a phenomenon.  Having phenomenal players helps. Continue reading

‘Scoop’ Sullivan’s Talk at the 2001 Reunion

Vale 'Scoop' Sullivan

Vale ‘Scoop’ Sullivan

Below is a speech by Gundagai Independent Publisher Pat ‘Scoop’ Sullivan delivered at the 2001 Maher Cup reunion at Tumut. The 400 strong crowd responded with a rousing ovation. Scoop’s talk was edited and published in the Tumut & Adelong Times on 6 November 2001 – from which it is reproduced below.

Sadly ‘Scoop’ passed away in 2015. His talk vividly illustrates why he is such a loss to the Maher Cup community.  At the 2016 reunion at Cootamundra Barry Madigan read Scoop’s words to a most receptive crowd.  Here they are, with some images added: Continue reading

Eric Kuhn and Friends

Courtesy of the Twin Town Times this video pays homage to Harden’s ‘Mighty Atom’ Eric Kuhn. You will also find Maher Cup Reunion organiser, player and referee Tom Spain reminiscing, while local legends Tom ‘Bristles’ Apps, Nick Cullen, and Paul ‘Wings’ McCarthy all put in an appearance.

The Hall Brothers

The Hall Brothers

Sid Hall aged 92 in 1994

Sid Hall aged 92 in 1994. Source: Daily Advertiser 26 May 1994.

The danger in writing of the Hall brothers is that most of the population of Young and places thereabouts seem to be related to them, and thus will find errors and omissions.  The advantage is that you will be gracious and contribute stories, corrections and improvements.

There were other prolific sporting families about, such as the Weissels of Cootamundra, footballing families like the Broads of West Wyalong, the Lawrences of Barmedman, and the Templeman brothers of Bellarwi, but nothing quite like the Hall brothers of Belowra, Wambanumba, Murringo, Bendick Murrell and Young.  It’s not that the family lived in all these places, but being in the vicinity they represented them all in some way. Continue reading

The Maher Cup Originals: Tumut and Gundagai in 1920

O'Brien family

The family of William Daniel Patrick O’Brien about 1897. Tom O’Brien went to war and returned to captain the first Tumut Maher Cup team. Here he is with his dad’s arm around him. Younger brother Assal and Orlando (top left) both died in the War.  [Source: Ancestry.com]

This post is an attempt to form an impression of life in the Gundagai and Tumut areas in 1920 through the prism of forty players from the two clubs who fought out the first Maher Cup match on Wednesday 14th July at the Tumut Racecourse.  For more on this first match go here.

Below are the team lists with brief biographical information. Further down is the analysis which you can jump to here.

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