Group 9 History: 1938

The Maher Cup towns now had a radio station broadcasting a clear signal from Cowra to Wagga and from West Wyalong to Tumut. The opening of 2LF with a daytime ‘static free’ coverage of 100 miles, was celebrated by 900 revellers at Young on the 16th of February. Football would inevitably be in focus. Manager Rawdon Blandford, from New Zealand had represented Otago in Rugby, and the station’s announcer, Pat Barton, was a past boxer, sprinter and Rugby League player of note.

Junee newspaper proprieter Alf Bennett, Group 9 president from 1934-1937 had died. David Freer, a Temora store manager was appointed president. Secretary Ray Walker of Young had moved to Group 17 and was replaced by Ernie Gerstenberger of Young’s Great Eastern Hotel. Acclaimed accountant Harold Kaye of West Wyalong continued as treasurer.

For the first time the Maher Cup attendance fee was fixed: 1/6 for adults and 6d for children. This had been the conventional charge in recent years.

There was a great variety of action and inaction amongst the area’s football clubs. The power within Group 9 had moved to the northern towns. As a result Forbes requested unsuccessfully to join the Group. Grenfell’s hoteliers and café proprieters bankrolled an attempt to create a team that could defeat its neighbours, win the Maher Cup and bring in big gates. West Wyalong outbid Cowra for top coach Max Gray’s services.

In the south Tumut both challenged for the Maher Cup and played in the Group 13 competition (which extended south to Albury and east to Wagga) . South Gundagai also sought to create a separate team to play in Group 13, then agreed to a united Gundagai to play in the Group. The Gundagai players defeated heavily in early matches (through lack of fitness) lost interest, forfeited their Maher Cup challenge and the club folded.

Cootamundra’s Pastime Club formed again full of enthusiasm, but were denied permission to train at Fisher Park, leading to a repeat of 1936, where the town failed to field a first grade team. Cootamundra’s right to the first and last Maher Cup challenge, established in 1924, was finally rescinded.

Junee again failed put a team together.

Another attempt to establish a regular Group 9 home and away competition was initiated. This time it was successful, it would become a permanent feature, although the Maher Cup still remained the ‘Holy Grail’. Cups would be played Wednesdays, the competition matches on Sundays. West Wyalong defeated Temora (who rested players for an impending Maher Cup match) in a muddy final, before a small crowd, for the Group 9 premiership.

Young won a record 15 Maher Cup matches in a year, including one at Cowra where the Sydney referee walked off the ground seven minutes before full time stating that he refused to referee a fight. Young’s three K’s were the stars of the season: coach, captain and goal-kicker Bill Kinnane; half-back Bill Kearney and five-eighth schoolteacher Kevin Dillon.

The crowds came back and the football doldrums of the Depression years were over (except in Cootamundra, Gundagai and Junee).

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