By David Ogilvy
Having passed through Lake Cargelligo last year with my wife and experiencing country footy in the Northern Riverina first hand, I decided to get a gang of blokes together and head back there again this year.
The first question I am asked is why? Maybe the following will help explain why we did it and why we will do it again
With “weather fine and track good” we wandered down the street on Saturday morning to a country brekky only to be greeted by a bus load of Hillston junior footballers and netballers on their way to West Wyalong to play(203 Kilometres each way). Distance in this league is not a barrier.
As the locals say if you arent prepared to travel there are no opportunities for the players.
After this it was down to the oval situated near the Lake which has now got water in it thanks to floods upstream.
As we arrived the juniors were going through their paces against Tullibigeal their nearest rival.
My mates were intrigued at the young lad in the forward pocket who each quarter kept changing guernseys – we couldnt work out which team was short.
“Pie and Hot-dog” time saw us leave the comfort of the car and walk to the canteen. On the way we were bewildered to see a ladder against the club rooms and as we approached the video cameraman was helped onto the roof (this video was replayed at the presentations later in the evening).
We were soon introduced to the President Stan Hague who was most welcoming and enthusiastic about our trip – never at a country football match have we been made to feel so welcome. It was not long before I had the envelope for the best players thrust into my hands (I wasnt going to be the bunny picking the best players alone so it was a cooperative effort all round by the “ring-ins”). Thanks Ray….
One of the locals said you must be visitors as we know all the locals. He then began to tell us about all his “rellies” in South Oz. The field ump said he had relatives at Blinnman in the Flinders Ranges – how many footy followers get to talk to the Ump on the boundary before a match about where they live?
The “Lakes ” have a great team of runners and experienced players. Two young Aboriginal lads soon dominated the game where they ran effortlessly over the opposition.Their pacy on ballers “killed” the opposition. Half time saw the footballers out on the oval so we all went out to listen to the coach – one of our gang heard the oppositon coach call for his lads to “keep their heads up” but it was in vain as they were 15 goals down.
When the match finished (The Lakes won by more than 190 pts ) we were invited back to the Bowls Club who are the sponsors (they swap sponsorship around after 2 years so all organisation in the town get the benefit).
Half way through our meal the ” Strapper” of the team said the Club wanted to thank us for attending and asked one of us to say a few words- this was beyond the call of duty.
More beers flowed until we made a quick exit with the senior member of our group saying he hadn’t had a better reception anywhere in the “bush”.
The “Lakes” have a great team who no doubt will play a part in the finals this year. Their last match before the finals is at Cobar a bus trip and about 300 kms away but as the President said”dehydration on the trip home wont be a problem for the lads as there will be a beer on the bus and we’ll stop at the Mt Hope pub but dont tell them that”