50 years on – Square and Rochy resume the rivalry


by Rod Gillett

Last year the Golden Square Football Club went through the Bendigo Football League unbeaten to win the premiership. It matched the feat of the Rochester “Invincibles” who were premiers and champions in the same league in 1962. Rochy beat Golden Square in the grand final that year.

Both clubs are understandably proud of their efforts. They were great rivals in the Bendigo league and have decided to renew the rivalry by playing a practice match at Moama on 17 March.

The lynch-pin is Tooheys regional sales manager, Steve Sharp, a prominent Golden Square official and a close friend of new Rochester coach Peter White. Sharp and White were school-friends and team-mates at Kyabram.

Sharp, also an old mate of mine from Ky, told me that the interest generated by Square going through last season had revived interest in Rochester’s magnificent effort when the Bendigo league was regarded as the best country league in Victoria.

“Rochy’s passion for footy is still remembered in Bendigo” Sharpie told me recently over a Skype call.

“They were always hard to beat. Just ask our club legend Peter Moroni (“the fleet-footed market gardener from Epsom”) who recounts how hard the Rochy boys used to go at him on the field”, Sharpie added.

Former Bendigo Advertiser sports editor and fellow Almanacker Richard Jones sent me the full-page spread in the “Addy”  on the Rochester achievement last August. All of the players are still alive, except for legendary country coach Con O’Toole (ex Melbourne) who passed away last April.

“For any team  to do what we did, there has to be harmony right from the president down to the boot-studder,” Fred Rodda, who played with Rochester from 1957 to 1963, told the Bendigo Advertiser.

“We had a terrific coach who commanded so much respect, and we were a group of players who got on really well together. We had fantastic club and team spirit” Rodda added.

The main draw card in the match between Rochy and Square fifty years on will undoubtedly be champion Square full forward Grant Weeks, voted the No 1 player in country Victoria by the Herald-Sun last year.  A farmer at Colbinabbin, Weeks attended Rochester High School and has apparently declared his intention to play with his mates at Rochy at some stage.

Meanwhile, Rochester’s prospects in this season’s Goulburn Valley league have received a major boost with the appointment of Peter “Bomber” White as coach. White has an outstanding record of success as a coach. He led Kyabram to a drought-breaking premiership victory in 1996 and Lemnos into the 2007 grand final. White also coached Merrigum to success in the Kyabram and District league. More recently, he has coached the GVL representative team to the past two country championships.

White said he was “so honoured” to be asked to coach Rochester that he immediately relinquished his GV coaching appointment.

“I’ve come here and I just can’t be happier with what’s happening” White told the Shepparton News in December last year.

“Bomber” takes over from popular local Simon McCarty who has stepped down to concentrate on his food distribution business in the area. White becomes the first “outsider” to coach Rochy in more than twenty years. “Dirty” Dave Williams coached the Tigers for sixteen seasons after returning to his home-town from AFL club Melbourne. “Dirty” got Rochy two premierships from seven grand final appearances in a period in which the club re-established itself as a major force in country football.

Williams was succeeded by Daniel “Lenny” Schimdt who after stints at Kyneton and with Bendigo in the VFL came to play with Rochester in 2005. “Lenny” led Rochester to the stunning upset victory over the all-conquering Seymour in the 2008 Goulburn Valley grand final. He is now the assistant coach of the Bendigo VFL team while Williams is coaching rival club Kyabram.

My informants tell me that reigning Morrison medalist and the VCFL’s player of the year in 2011 Guy Campbell, who played under White in representative fixtures, recommended White to Rochy officials.

The former Sydney Swans listed player who has been playing with Nightcliff in the Darwin competition has returned and will play in the match against Golden Square. He won’t have far too travel as he lives just across the border in Echuca.

Golden Square players and officials will travel up by coach and stay overnight at the Rich River Country Club.


  1. I’M suffering from the same symptoms you must experience Rod Nguyen when reading Knackery reports from Abu Dhabi, Hanoi or even Seoul.
    I’m reading this one at a hotel in the Ayers Rock Resort complex, having driven 700-800 klicks from Coober Pedy today. Not all in one go by me, though.
    Wife shares a turn behind the wheel.

    Square remains the team to beat in the BFNL 2012 comp. With Weeks, mentioned above, Simon Rosa, Travis Baird, Luke Hammond and new coach Mark Lloyd the Dogs remain very, very short-priced faves.

    South and Hurst loom as major threats. Gisborne will be OK and EagleBurra and Strathfieldsaye will be thereabouts.

    We hope to be back in central Vic. for the Shaun Bergin Memorial match between South and Balwyn, Shaun’s 2 clubs.

    That’s Sat. March 31st. Square kicks off the 2012 BFNL season the next day against Eaglehawk.

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