From the depths of North Fitzroy (the Royal Oak Hotel), Bob, Simon and I ventured forth; North, to watch the big Picola League clash between Tungamah and Katandra.
We’d popped into Tungamah a few months prior, on our drive to the races at Ardlethan. Now we returned to watch their footy team in action, and a damn good side, sitting undefeated on top of the ladder with 40 points from the ten games played so far.
The Picola League dates back to 1934. Since 2009 it has had two divisions, roughly based on geographical lines. There is the North West division and the South East division, with our match being from teams in the South East.
Tungamah were formed back in 1995, wearing a purplish jumper, with the nickname The Bears. Currently they are top of the table, as well as having been premiers in 1999, 2008 and 2009.
Katandra entered the Picola League in 1996, and are called the Kats, with a K. They have lifted the premiership trophy in 1998 and 2003-2004.
We arrived in town, starting off at where else, the pub! The publican, former North Melbourne premiership player, and Corowa legend, Peter Chisnall greeted us warmly. After a few frosties it was off to the ground for the clash between undefeated, top placed Tungamah, and winless cellar dwellers Katandra.
A cool sunny day greeted us. The potential for a trouncing was there. In the magoos the home side won 16-17-113, to 1-0-6. How would the seniors fare? At quarter time the locals had a match-winning lead 7-1-43, to 1 point. The point was scored in a scrimmage, thus unsure if it was rushed or was kicked by a Katandra player. The point remained the only score for Katandra. Tungamah added another 8-6 in the second quarter, followed by 9-2 in the third term, with a final stanza of 11-4 for a scoreline of Tungamah winning 37-11-223, Katandra 0-1-1.
For Tungamah, the best player was the full forward Lee James. Prior to the match Peter worded us up on him, and he wasn’t wrong. Lee kicked 11 goals, scored the goal of the day in the third term, breaking tackles, then bombing it from around 50. He later took the mark of the day, from which he kicked his seventh goal.
Other good players were the Haebich duo of Drew and Daune, with Chris Powell, Matt Clark and Kade Rowe also impressing. For embattled Katandra, their number 4 Grant McLarty was like the boy with the finger in the dike valiantly trying to stave off the inevitable. He was well supported by Corey Wilson. Locals tell us Katandra have money but can’t recruit players, with Saturday’s team being a veritable reserves line up.
Off to the club rooms post match, though found it interesting watching the police breathalyse drivers leaving the ground. Then into the club rooms, where the visitors from the “Big Smoke” were spotted by the mother of Tony; Tony being of Rose Hotel fame, who is originally from Tungamah. In the club rooms there is a large photo of Les Parish in his Fitzroy jumper, next to it is his signed Fitzroy jumper. A player who passed away far too young. As a health worker it was pleasing to see a prominent display of Beyond Blue posters and information. Good work Tungamah Football and Netball Club.
Back to the pub for a few coldies, a hearty meal, and warm rooms to crash in. A late night pool contest saw Peter finding himself on the wrong pairing, they losing the 7 match encounter 5-2. Well played Bob.
All in all a good time was had in Tungamah. A big thank you for the warm hospitality, and service provided by Peter and Helen. The pub is interesting. Built in 1878, burnt down, then rebuilt in 1891, then almost going under in 1969, but the locals raised enough money to keep it open. I highly recommend it to any Almanackers going through the area.