Local Footy: Bushpigs face extinction

by Rocket Gillett 

 

The Wagga Uni Bushpigs broke a 38 game losing streak when they beat The Rock-Yerong Creek by five points in their Farrer Football League fixture last Saturday. It was their first win since 12 August 2006 when they beat Temora.

 

It was a huge day for the Pigs as they won the reserves as well as the three grades of netball. Needless to say there were major celebrations at the club’s major sponsors, the Victoria Hotel on Saturday night and at the pre-arranged “Sunday Session”.

It was the seniors first ever win at The Rock. (Previously, matches were played at Yerong Creek so a bush dance could be held afterwards in a shearing shed nearby) 

However, wins which have been very hard to find for the Bushpigs may become even harder if a proposal for a merging of the Farrer and Riverina leagues into one competition goes ahead. It would in fact spell the end for the university club.

 

Actually three other clubs would also be highly vulnerable to extinction, namely North Wagga, Temora, and Marrar, while the Northern Jets which was only formed as a result of the amalgamation of the Ardlethan and Ariah Park- Mirrool clubs in 2004 may also struggle to survive in a one competition model.

 

North Wagga, which now play in the RFL, have not won a game since they beat the Bushpigs by just 4 points on 5 August 2006 when they played in the Farrer league; the Saints went into recess the following year and were surprisingly admitted into the RFL on reformation in 2008.

 

The one competition would most likely be dominated by the RFL powerhouses Ganmain Grong Grong Matong, Wagga Tigers and Wagga-based Turvey Park. Together with the other clubs based in the major centres of Wagga, Narranderra, Leeton and Griffith – they would snuff out the smaller clubs leaving it with a viable competition of 12 clubs.

 

However, this would be at an enormous social cost to the smaller communities as well as a blow to the standing of the game in the Riverina which faces an on-going major battle with rugby league for supremacy in the region.

 

All this has come about because of the abject failure of the consultant hired by Southern NSW AFL last year to recommend major structural changes to the competitions in the region.

 

Instead of attending to the pressing need to bolster the Farrer League from its current six team competition Ron Montgomery recommended two divisions be created in the Hume League. Montgomery had the chance to re-direct the likes of Holbrook, Lockhart, Henty and Culcairn back to the Farrer League, where they have historically played most of their football. But he didn’t and the consequences are likely to be catastrophic – it was unbelievably stupid stuff.

 

Subsequently two leading Farrer league clubs, Collingillie-Ashmont-Kapooka and The Rock Yerong Creek sought to change competitions, and even had their appeals approved, before sanity prevailed and they remained in their current completion awaiting a final decision on the structure of the competition this year.

 

Now the administrators are from all reports only considering making changes to the Riverina and Farrer leagues and an announcement will be made on 12 June.

 

They need to “grasp the nettle” and restructure all the competitions in the region on a basis that provides for “apples against apples”. At the moment it’s all going pear-shaped.

 

Meanwhile the Bushpigs are still celebrating and will be able to continue to do so this weekend as there is a general bye (they have the funds following a successful plunge on #10 in Race 8 at Gosford named Beerwinenspirits!) The next match is not until June 13 when they take on old rivals, Marrar.

 

I am looking forward to seeing them in action later this season when the past players known as the Old Bores congregate at Bushpig Park on 8 August to witness the clash against the Northern Jets.

 

C.T.F.P.

Comments

  1. Rocket, I feel your pain. It does seem silly to combine the Riverina and Farrer leagues; the smaller clubs would surely die. Leave the Riverina league and create an enormous district league, perhaps, with all the Farrer and Hume league clubs combined, over a couple of divisions.

    PS. Why can’t the Northern Jets be called the Northern Silos?

  2. Rod Gillett says:

    You’re right Daff, a Riverina “Super League” would kill off a number of smaller clubs, too many have already been lost due to uneven competition, not just through lack of numbers. I favour 3 leagues, leave the current RFL intact, put the townships together in the Farrer League and the rural villages in the Hume League. While there are some discrepancies such as Howlong (town) & Marrar (village), geography and history comes into it, and it would be better in my opinion to keep the Hume League based in the southern part of the region and the Farrer League around Wagga (as it was for many years).
    It would be great to see Rennie come back into the Hume/Coreen league from the Picola District league where it had played for over one hundered years. It may be that Coleambly would be better off in the Northern Riverina League now that Hillston is in that comp and Parkes have returned to the Central West. Unfortunately its a long way from anywhere, but historically have played against the old Coreen League clubs (CDBHU, Billabong Crows, Rand, Rennie).
    As for the Northern Jets, one of the composite villages in the combination is Mirrool which is the site of the silo that Billy Brownless famously kicked a ball over after a session at the pub. There’s a story in the name that Ardlethan/Ariah Park/Mirrool that needs to be told separately.

    CURRENT COMPOSITION OF LEAGUES IN THE RIVERINA

    RIVERINA FOOTBALL LEAGUE
    Coolamon
    Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong
    Eastern Hawks
    Griffith
    Leeton-Whitton
    Mangoplah-Cookardina-Eastlakes United
    Narrandera
    North Wagga
    Turvey Park
    Wagga Tigers

    FARRER FOOTBALL LEAGUE

    Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka
    Marrar
    Northern Jets
    The Rock-Yerong Creek
    Rivcoll Bushpigs
    Temora

    HUME FOOTBALL LEAGUE

    Billabong Crows
    Burrumbuttock-Brocklesby Saints
    Coleambly
    Coreen-Daysdale-Hopefield-Buraja United
    Culcairn
    Henty
    Holbrook
    Howlong
    Jindera
    Lockhart
    Murray Magpies
    Osborne
    Rand-Walbundrie
    Walla Walla

    ROCKET MODEL

    RIVERINA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

    Coolamon
    Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong
    Eastern Hawks
    Griffith
    Leeton-Whitton
    Mangoplah-Cookardina-Eastlakes United
    Narrandera
    North Wagga
    Turvey Park
    Wagga Tigers

    FARRER FOOTBALL LEAGUE

    Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka
    Culcairn
    Henty
    Holbrook
    Lockhart
    Marrar
    Northern Jets
    The Rock-Yerong Creek
    Rivcoll Bushpigs
    Temora

    HUME FOOTBALL LEAGUE

    Billabong Crows
    Burrumbuttock-Brocklesby Saints
    Coleambly
    Coreen-Daysdale-Hopefield-Buraja United
    Howlong
    Jindera
    Murray Magpies
    Osborne
    Rand-Walbundrie
    Walla Walla

  3. stan stavros says:

    Rod,
    I agree with most of what you say. The Farrer League definitely needs an 8 team comp – I would add North Wagga and Lockhart to the current mix. I would leave Henty and Culcairn in the Hume League because they traditionally draw their players from Albury and a move to the Farrer (which is now more Wagga focussed) would weaken their playing stocks. Holbrook and Coleambally are the two geographical “swingers” in terms of where they draw their players. Perhaps Coleambally to the Farrer and Holbrook to stay in the Hume?

Leave a Comment

*