Group 9 History: 1939

The Sullivan brothers of the Gundagai Independent continued their opposition to the Maher Cup which they declared ‘a disease from which germs infect football in this Group’.[1]  They found allies in their quest to strengthen the Group 9 Competition, when West Wyalong and Temora sought to delay the Cup until the Competition finals were completed, leaving time for only about six challenges. While the proposal was defeated, a team playing for the Maher Cup on Wednesday would now be required to field eight of that team in the Competition matches on the previous and following Sundays. This followed considerable resentment directed towards Young in 1938 for using the Competition to give its reserve team a workout; and basically help it select the best Maher Cup team.

Membership of various Groups was fluid. Group 11 wanted Grenfell and Cowra. Both resisted and they remained in Group 9. A proposed expansion of the Leeton-centred Group 17 to swallow up West Wyalong, Barmedman and Temora was ignored; while Tumut’s previous season’s practice of participating in the Group 13 competition as well as and the Maher Cup was (narrowly) approved after 3 ½ hours discussion.

Junee and Gundagai clubs were reformed and successfully sought to join Group 13 where the nearby Wagga teams were located. Neither sought to participate in the Maher Cup. The Cootamundra Pastime Club also reestablished a first grade Coota team.

Bob Aldridge of Temora, the Group 9 patron and ‘father of football’ in the area established a Group 9 Referees’ Association. Helped by the fallout over referee Murphy’s abandonment of the Cowra v Young donnybrook (as well as sheer economics), Maher Cup matches would no longer be handled by Sydney referees.

Harold Kaye of West Wyalong, who had been its highly praised treasurer for four years was elected president. F. McDonough of Temora was the new treasurer and T. Cusack of Young treasurer.[2] Group 9 decided to participate in Country Week after some years absence.

The Cup draw, now to be conducted a fortnight rather than a week before commencement, came out: Temora, Grenfell, Cowra, Cootamundra, Tumut, West Wyalong, Barmedman and Harden-Murrumburrah.

The age of imports was over; frugality and development of local talent was the rage – except at Grenfell. Completely bucking the trend the town’s businessmen continued their pre-occupation of building a team that would win the Maher Cup. The Green’s ‘alien army’ or ‘foreign legion’, failed in its battles against a better co-ordinated Young.

[1] Reprinted in Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 30 March 1939, p. 10. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161934773

[2] Cusack was the third member of the Young Witness staff to be secretary, after Fred Cahill (1932-1933) and Ray Walker (1937).

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