Spe­cial Spi­ders put on pedestal

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROBERT MUIR

“It was a won­der­ful cel­e­bra­tion. It was a won­der­ful day in our his­tory,” ‘Bert’ told some100 at­ten­dees over a de­li­cious twocourse meal at the in John Fo­ord Oval.

He was one of four key or­gan­is­ers of the mile­stone cel­e­bra­tion, along with Phil Godde, Ni­cole Grif­fen and club pres­i­dent Gra­ham Hosier. The MC was in­tro­duced by Phil who ar­rived in Corowa 15 years af­ter the 1968 pre­mier­ship.

Phil em­pha­sised the sig­nif­i­cance of the best 1968 O and M team: “We held the 1968 play­ers in the high­est re­gard. We were en­vi­ous of them. They were put on a pedestal. Sadly, we’ve lost some play­ers.”

The re­cruit­ment of Fred Swift as Corowa’s coach - the cap­tain of the 1967 Rich­mond pre­mier­ship team - was an out­stand­ing coup, not only Corowa but for the O and M.

Lead­ing Corowa to its first pre­mier­ship since 1932, it proved what an out­stand­ing cham­pion he was. And then to re­tain pre­vi­ous coach, for­mer star Footscray cen­tre-half-back John Hoiles, was also a master stroke.

Play­ers loved the club, were so proud to cre­ate his­tory and make the town happy. They cer­tainly did that with Sanger Street filled with ador­ing and ad­mir­ing spec­ta­tors wel­com­ing the team back home.

John Clancy re­called “how pas­sion­ate the peo­ple of Corowa were”. “The bus trip up

That mem­o­rable 1968 pre­mier­ship win by Corowa over Wodonga at Wan­garatta was re-lived by 10 of the play­ers last Sun­day. All spoke on cen­tre stage and the youngest player that day, 17-year-old Robert Tait, again con­trolled the air­ways, as Master of Cer­e­monies.

Sanger Street was just sen­sa­tional. It was just so up­lift­ing and showed it meant a lot to the town,” the dual Mor­ris Medal­list in his five sea­sons with Corowa and Ovens and Mur­ray League Hall of Famer said.

Play­ers talked about cer­tain as­pects of the game, in­clud­ing high­lights and the odd al­ter­ca­tion - the lat­ter so bril­liantly demon­strated by cen­tre­man Peter Chis­nall which pro­duced laugh­ter and ap­plause.

All play­ers were ap­plauded. All spoke of the hap­pi­ness of win­ning and see­ing the town come out in full sup­port, and the ca­ma­raderie and bond the play­ers have since en­joyed. Hasn’t al­ways been easy see­ing each other in view of dis­tances of res­i­dences between some past play­ers.

Take Den­nis Hut­ton for ex­am­ple,who left Corowa straight af­ter the 1968 pre­mier­ship, even­tu­ally mov­ing to the USA in 1996. The re­tired paint­ing con­trac­tor from Colorado “wouldn’t have missed the re­union for quids” and re­called how Freddy Swift tried to teach him how to kick. “I could ‘catch’ but couldn’t kick,” Den­nis said. “So Freddy was teach­ing me but all of a sud­den his kick­ing was go­ing bad so he said, ‘We can’t have two bad kicks in the team, you just hand­ball!’.”

At­ten­dees stood and ob­served a minute’s si­lence in mem­ory of five pre­mier­ship play­ers who have passed away: Bill Phibbs, Lind­say Ja­cob, Kevin Wither­den, Fred Swift and John Lane. “These play­ers were ab­so­lutely won­der­ful,” Bert said. “They played ma­jor roles. Their con­tri­bu­tion was cer­tainly sig­nif­i­cant. Fred Swift, John Lane and John Hoiles were great pro­tec­tors to us kids.”

Many apolo­gies were re­ceived due to ill­health of some play­ers or that of re­la­tions. Ike Il­s­ley, Ken Eales, David McCooke and Ge­off Ma­clean were un­able to at­tend ac­cord­ingly. That quar­tet’s im­por­tance on the footy oval was also re­ferred to in glow­ing terms.

Fred Swift’s sis­ter Betty from Morn­ing­ton and wife Anita could not at­tend but cor­re­sponded with the club, wish­ing all, very best wishes.

Philip Scott Cater­ing dished up the de­li­cious meal, with ladies from the foot­ball/net­ball club im­pec­ca­bly as­sist­ing with the wai­t­er­ing.

Play­ers spoke of the ex­cel­lent sup­port from the ladies com­mit­tee. The MCA called ladies com­mit­tee pres­i­dent of yes­ter­year, Lorna Chris­field to the mi­cro­phone, who de­servedly made the most of her op­por­tu­nity on cen­tre stage, re­call­ing great times.

O and M Chair­man David Sin­clair said it was “won­der­ful to have days like this”. “I think to have a re­union is very good and to have a re­union pre­mier­ship is even bet­ter,” he said. “It was one of the great O and M pre­mier­ships.”

Phil Godde’s de­scrip­tion of the venue’s “out­stand­ing memorabilia” dis­play was apt. He con­cluded the for­mal part with the words he said Fred Swift used at day’s end of the 1968 grand-fi­nal: “It’s Corowa’s day.”

Through this pre­mier­ship, the legacy of old Corowa Spi­ders lives on. And it was some­thing spe­cial last Sun­day when 10 play­ers from that mem­o­rable seven-point,14.11.95 to 12.16.88 win, past and present club par­tic­i­pants, of­fi­cials and sup­port­ers in­clud­ing the hard work­ing ladies, rem­i­nisced.

John Hoiles tak­ing cen­tre stage, along­side MC Robert Tait.

Ladies com­mit­tee pres­i­dent of yes­ter­year Lorna Chris­field ad­dresses the au­di­ence.

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