If Cootamundra were disappointed when Eric Weissel went to Temora in 1927. This time they were ropeable when Jack Kingston, their home grown champion, Kangaroo and captain-coach, was enticed to coach and captain Young for the 1931 season. In replying to criticism Kingston defended his move saying that it had been impossible for him to get a job outside football. This set the tone for the depression era. Players who had jobs often retired because the risk of injury could jeopardise their employment, and men in the country and city who were skilled enough to be paid for playing football were often desperate to earn a living from the sport.
Cootamundra surprised by joining the Young sponsored South-Western Competition, so the six ‘A’ teams were Young, Cowra, Grenfell, Boorowa, Harden-Murrumburrah-Galong and Coota…for two weeks. Cootamundra then pulled out citing ‘financial reasons’. During quite a wild ‘friendly’ between Coota and Young at Fisher Park a fortnight later, Young, taking exception to decisions of Cootamundra referee and club delegate Tom Alberts, walked off the field. Young’s three ex-Coota Jacks, Jack ‘Kinky’ Kingston, Jack ‘Inky’ Dempsey and Jack Walkom, were all duly suspended by the Group 9 judiciary.
The Young sponsored South-Western Competition was again successful. In the final Cowra defeated Grenfell 3-0 before a crowd of 2000-3000.
At the Group 9 AGM, Junee secured both the president (Henry Paton) and secretary (Harry Glanville) positions, Grenfell joined from Group 11, and it was decided that country referees to be favoured as their city cousins were too expensive.
Fred Cahill continued to show verve and arouse the hostility of other Group 9 officials. This time he arranged for the Queensland state side to play at Young against the local Southwest Competition teams. A £160 surety was posted. President Paton from Junee complained about Cahill to the NSWRL, wanting the game in a town south of Young under the sponsorship of Group 9. A compromise was eventually reached with expenses and profits being split 50% between Southwestern and Group 9. A Group 9 team selected and all cup ties on the day were held over. Unfortunately heavy rain fell during the match, with some roads into Young flooded and only £143 taken at the gate. Queensland won 19-10 and the total loss on the match amounted to £120.
In a desperate effort to recoup their losses Group 9 invited a representative City side to Junee for a £100 take all challenge. Group 9 were to be given 10 points start and the winners would keep all the gate money. However the NSWRL, considering that such games amount to wagering, ended the proposal. So Group 9 decided to offer the same challenge to top Sydney club Western Suburbs, now captain by West Wyalong’s Bill Brogan.
The Wests game at the Sydney Sports Ground attracted a very healthy 11,000 spectators on a cold and blowy date. The country lads won 29-21, with this bunch of very talented men representing Group 9: Frank Blundell (Temora), Jim Mortimer (Junee), Abe Hall (Young), Cec Fifield (Junee), Jack Walkom (Young), Eric Weissel (Temora), Jack Dempsey (Young), Jack Kingston (Young), Arthur Waterson (Junee), Jack Brown (Young), Bill Lawrence (Barmedman), R. Kilpatrick (Wagga), and Jack Fitzgerald (Junee). The gate was a massive £648 with £130 profit going into the Group 9 coffers.
The South-Western Competition towns based around Young challenged the more southern and western Group 9 towns (yes, I do realise this is confusing), to a match at Cootamundra The gate was a useful £111 with the South-Western Competition team winning 23-18. The teams: Group 9 – Frank Blundell (Temora), Jim Mortimer (Junee), Cec Fifield (Junee), Horace Turner (Temora), Len Cooper (Barmedman), Eric Weissel (Temora), Joe Egan (Junee), Arthur Waterson (Junee), Jack Stephenson (Temora), Bill Lawrence (Barmedman), Jack Fitzgerald (Junee), Charlie Fennell (Barmedman), R. Kilpatrick (Wagga) – South-Western: Laurie Ward (Harden), Jack Walkom (Young), Abe Hall (Young), Jack Courtney (Harden), Arnie Small (Galong/Harden), Jack Thompson (Cootamundra), Jack Dempsey (Young), Jack Kingston (Young), Mick Crowe (Grenfell), Bill Killaby (Boorowa), Bill Maizey (Cowra), Jack Brown (Young) and Gordon Hinton (Cootamundra).
In late September another Group 9 team went down to the big smoke and played South Sydney before a crowd of more than 20,000. The team was: Laurie Ward (Harden), Jim Mortimer (Junee), Cec Fifield (Junee), Sid Harris (Grenfell), Arnie Small (Harden), Eric Weissel (Temora), Jack Dempsey (Young), Mick Crowe (Grenfell), Arthur Waterson (Junee), Tom Forbutt (Tumut) George ‘Biggun’ Williams (Junee), Gus Gray (Junee) and Jack Fitzgerald (Junee). Although they were defeated 31-15 the huge gate of £1188 filled the Group 9 coffers to overflowing. As the Depression deepened, football in Group 9 country was sitting pretty well on top of the world.
Then the clubs voted to distributes the profits to themselves. President and secretary Paton and Glanville were outraged that the funds they had built up against all odds in such difficult times were to be squandered. Harry Glanville simply refused to authorise the distribution.
The Barmedman Maroons continued to be one of the strongest sides. However West Wyalong did not grant permission for star winger Len Cooper to play for them in 1931. So Cooper moved into Barmedman to wait out his 28 day residency. After five successful challenges, and with Cooper in the Barmedman team, Young took the Maher Cup of the villagers 3-2. Temora had the best Cup run and in the final match of the season destroyed Cootamundra 61-12, now just a shadow of a team.
However it was a year of many many protests across all the major Cups in play, not just the Maher Cup. The all time mother of Maher Cup protests commenced on the 9 September and seethed for eight months and numerous appeals to various bodies later. It was basically a very simple matter. Tumut came to Temora and took the Maher Cup in a surprising 12-1o win, with a team which included two born and bred Tumut juniors, Mick Mulvihill and John Ibbotson, that the Tumut secretary had overlooked to register them with Group 9 authorities. The injustice of Temora winning the protest on such a small technicality took some time, lots of money spent on lawyers, stacks of angst and anger, to sort.
The protests became entrenched and increasingly mendacious as the Depression hit hard. The crowds dwindled but the passion didn’t. The Temora-Tumut protest, involving numerous backflips from head office, also intensified anti-NSWRL feelings and the idea of a separate Country Rugby League was becoming increasingly attractive.