Kyabram Free Press
When we were heroes
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.