Kyabram Free Press

When we were heroes

- Gus Underwood

Merrigum Football Club was a powerhouse in the Kyabram District Football Associatio­n (now the Kyabram and District Football League) in the late 1940s and 1950s when it was basically a local competitio­n.

In the period between 1949 and 1953 Merrigum won four flags, including a hat-trick of premiershi­ps in 1949-50-51.

It also claimed another flag in 1957 but then had to wait until 1986 to win its next premiershi­p under coach Peter White, who was also in charge the next year when Merrigum won the flag again.

Girgarre Football Club broke Merrigum’s bid to win four successive flags when it won its first flag in 1952 .

But Merrigum players were back holding the premiershi­p cup again in 1953 when they outclassed the Kyabram Boys Club 24.11 to 11.15 in the season decider at the Kyabram Recreation Reserve.

The coverage of the game in the Free Press stated, “If a rocket plane from Woomera had landed at the Kyabram Recreation Reserve on Saturday it could not have caused more surprise to supporters of the local team than did the Merrigum players who put up an outstandin­g performanc­e to win.

‘‘An amazing last quarter, probably the best ever seen in the KDFA, when they kicked 9.3 to Boys Club 0.0 clinched the flag for Merrigum.’’

The report continued: ‘‘It would be ridiculous to attempt to differenti­ate between the best players of either team but probably the most outstandin­g for Merrigum were Les Pell (who kicked 12 goals), Stenson Vagg, Jack Davies and Alan Hunt while Alan Vick, Les Whyte, Lindsay Dillon and Neville Brooks (until hurt) were best for Boys Club.

‘‘All arrangemen­ts for the match were satisfacto­rily carried out by the Kyabram Football Club and afternoon tea in charge of Mrs J Wilkinson was greatly appreciate­d and raised 6 pounds, 17 shillings and six pence.

‘‘Gate receipts were approximat­ely 46 pounds which included admittance money paid by the players of each team which is to be refunded to the provident funds of each club.’’

Only two players - Kevin Andrews and Neil Lowe - from that 1953 flag-winning side are still alive today.

Les Pell who went on to be president of the club for a number of years had claimed the Mcnamara Medal in 1951, the year Merrigum completed its hat-trick of premiershi­p wins. Merrigum’s 1953 premiershi­p line-up:

Back row: Bob Crocker (trainer), J Binion, K Higgs, L Mcwhinney, R Lawlor (treasurer), A Hunt, L Vagg (official)

Centre: D Geldart (official), P Andrews (official), J Young, K Andrews, B Fitzsimmon­s, D Muhleisen, B Finn (secretary), J Morrison, T Hyslop (trainer)

Front: L Andrews, L Pell (vice-captain), P Gash, J Davies (captain), K Fitzsimmon­s, S Vagg, N Lowe

Inset: B Chapman (president)

Pandemic wins again

The Bellarine, Central Highlands, Geelong, Gippsland, South West District and the Wimmera Leagues were the last of the leagues which finally had to concede COVID-19 was an opponent that couldn’t be beaten.

They hung on to the bitter end but succumbed to COVID-19 restrictio­ns which couldn’t provide a level playing field for the flag aspirants or permit crowds to attend.

Campbell back to coach

Footy journeyman Brad Campbell is returning to coaching, reuniting with his last club

Shepparton for the 2022 Goulburn Valley League season.

Campbell will join the club as an assistant to 2018 captain and new coach Ted Lindon who is also returning to the club.

Campbell coached Shepparton for four years from 2013 to 2017 and is credited with playing a big part in developing the Bears’ premiershi­p-winning side in 2018.

Campbell, a Tongala-raised product and son of the Blues’ dual premiershi­p coach and GVL legend Des Campbell, played one game with the Melbourne Football Club in a career which also landed him a spot in the Peter White’s Kyabram premiershi­p side of 1996.

He also coached his home club for one year in 2001 before a five-year stint at Mooroopna from 2008-13 which was followed by an assistant coaching role with the Murray Bushranger­s in 2013.

From then it was four years with the Shepparton Bears from 2014-17.

Benalla bosses on board

Benalla Football Club will have joint coaches leading it for the next two seasons.

Club legend Will Martiniell­o, the Morrison Medallist in 2014, and former player Mark Mckenzie will take the coaching reins from Jake Pallpratt, who has had two frustratin­g seasons at the coaching helm due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In more GVL news, midfielder Doug Wren is returning to play with Rochester in the 2022 season.

Wren spent this year with Shepparton United after a two-year stint with the Tigers in 2018-19 in which won the club’s best and fairest award in his first season.

He joined Rochester from Kyabram League club Tallygaroo­pna.

Rochester has been busy re-signing most of this year’s list, which will again be coached by Steve Stroobants.

Wines does the double

It doesn’t happen all the time but former Echuca footballer Ollie Wines has pulled off the Brownlow Medal and club best-and-fairest award in the same year.

The Port Adelaide champion polled 229 votes to beat Travis Boak (167) and defender Aliir Aliir (164).

Wheels of Courage

A racehorse called Wheels of Courage carries a lot of memories for 60 owners from the Deniliquin area and ex-deniliquin­ites.

Wheels Of Courage races in honour of former Deniliquin sportsman and good guy David Whelan who lost a brave battle with cancer last year.

Most of the owners of Wheels of Courage were friends of David’s. They were originally going to name the galloper Wheels but there was another galloper already with that name so they added the ‘of Courage’ bit, which they thought had a nice ring to it.

Wheels of Courage has had a win and a placing at his last two starts in Adelaide.

Kiss And Make Up, who is the sire of Elle, the dam of Wheels Of Courage, is the horse that reunited trainer Gai Waterhouse and John Singleton after they clashed over a barrier draw Gai made for one of Singleton’s horses in 2013.

Dan’s the man

Kyabram District Football League club Tallygaroo­pna is sticking with Daniel Kirchen as its coach for next season.

The Redlegs, who were premiers in 2018 and runners-up in 2019, were hit hard by player departures from these teams this year and managed only two wins prior to the season being called off.

Tally is busily recruiting and among its signings is Nic Fichera, a 2018 premiershi­p player who is returning as an assistant playing coach.

Ski race cancelled

The Beehag 100, Echuca-moama’s second biggest water ski event, is the latest big drawcard to be erased from this year’s calendar due to COVID-19.

But organisers are hell-bent on staging its biggest event, the Southern 80, from February 11-13 next year, confident targets regarding vaccines will be achieved by then to provide the green light to stage the iconic event.

The Beehag 100 was originally scheduled to be held on November 13 but was moved back two weeks to November 27 in the hope conditions may have eased enough by then to stage the event.

Murray League movements

Former St Kilda player Jason Traianidis will coach Murray Football League club Rumbalara again in 2022.

Traianidis is looking forward to continuing to develop the youth in the side, which finished in sixth spot when the recent season was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In more Murray League movements former co-captain of Echuca United Phil Hubbard is returning to the club.

New United coach Farren Priest has lured Hubbard back to the club after the pair had spent the last two seasons with Heathcote League club Elmore.

Numurkah has also been active, re-signing coach Sean Harrap for a third season.

The club has also lured former Tatura coach Jamason Daniels, who played with Nagambie this season, and Shepparton Swans player Charlie Hill to its ranks for next season.

Old Students Cricket Club will have a well known face guiding it this season.

Club legend Gino Saracino has taken over as senior coach of the Cricket Shepparton club.

It’s not a new role for the one-club star batsman who has previously coached and captained the club and sees a big future in developing the promising junior players currently in its ranks.

But Old Students have suffered a blow in preparing for the season with star all-rounder and Lightfoot medallist Nick Breslin leaving the club to join Northerner­s.

Success in the sun

Former Blighty footballer Darcy Morris has figured in a drought-breaking premiershi­p win in the AFL Cairns competitio­n.

Darcy was in the Cairns City Lions side that ended a 40-year premiershi­p drought by accounting for Cairns Saints by 11 points

Not even the coach of City Lions, former AFL player Aaron Davey, was born when the club won its last flag. Davey played 178 games with the Melbourne Demons.

After the win Darcy said he was in no hurry to return south any time soon and is enjoying life and footy in far north Queensland.

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 ?? ?? Champions of 1953: Merrigum defeated Kyabram Boys Club by 74 points in the KDFA grand final.
Champions of 1953: Merrigum defeated Kyabram Boys Club by 74 points in the KDFA grand final.

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