A Season in the Country: 1975 in the Wimmera and Farrer Leagues – Episode 10

 

 

Lockhart Football Ground

 

 

Episode 10

 

Featuring Murtoa’s mercurial Peter (‘Dickie’) Morrison

 

The Wimmera League

 

       

 

                Magpies                                    v                                        Redbacks

 

Murtoa v Jeparit

Saturday 21st June 1975

at Murtoa Oval

 

Murtoa lies on the Wimmera Highway, a road that weaves its way through the Victorian wheatbelt connecting central Victoria with the South Australian town of Naracoorte. The quiet village of Murtoa amply rewards travellers who take the time to stop and sit for a while beside tranquil Lake Marma or search for one of the town’s many ceramic lizards, and if time permits, to visit the remarkable ‘Stick Shed’.

 

Victoria’s last remaining World War II emergency grain storage shed, now known as the ‘Stick Shed’, is a unique structure reminding the visitor of the vital importance of the Wimmera’s grain bounty. To the football-minded it is a gallery of ‘goal posts’. The ‘big sticks’ of the grain shed are 560 unmilled trunks from Australia’s tallest native trees, Eucalyptus regnans (Mountain Ash).

 

Murtoa, an original Wimmera League club, won its solitary flag as a stand-alone club in 1980. In 1995 the Magpies of Murtoa merged with the Blues of Minyip to form the Minyip-Murtoa Kookaburras. The combined entity has won four premierships, including three in succession (1996, 97, 98) with their most recent triumph in 2019.

 

The Wimmera Mail-Times football reporter, Bill Goodier, gave Murtoa little chance of reversing their poor recent form against the rampant ladder leaders Jeparit. After four straight losses the Morrison-led Magpies were falling fast out of final five contention.

 

The Teams

 

Murtoa

B:             I. Gellatly, J. Shepherd, D. Sudholz

HB:          B. McIntyre, K. Anderson, T. McGrath

C:             D. Delahunty, P. Morrison (c), T. McIntyre

HF:           G. McRae, G. MacInnes, P. McConnell

F:             E. Taylor, N. Sharrock, M. Finnigan

Foll:         R. Schodde, L. Delahunty

Rov:         P. Williams

Res:          I. Yole, C. Cross

 

 

Jeparit

B:             R. Clarke, K. Starick, M. Pritchard

HB:          T. Robson, I. Jones, C. Weir

C:             C. Smith, R. McLellan , R. Chilton

HF:           B. Altmann, L. Hoffman, K. Barber

F:             G. Warner, D. Schumman, K. Stronach

Foll:         N. Dettman, P. Chilton (c)

Rov:         B. Robson

Res:         R. Binns

 

The Jeparit ‘Redbacks’ were not deterred by the cold windy conditions at Murtoa Oval taking an early advantage in the match that the Magpies could not peg back. The final margin of 28 points could have been much greater had power forwards Doug Schumman and Loxley Hoffmann been uninjured. As it was the two key forwards kicked a combined tally of eight goals and were ably supported by Ken Stronach who chimed in with five majors. Murtoa made the mistake of playing from behind which repeatedly handed the initiative to their opponents. With five losses on the trot crunch time was looming for the Magpies.

 

Without a Wimmera League premiership to its name, the Jeparit Football Club was not getting carried away with  their recent form and top position. Co-coaches Peter Chilton and Ken Stronach had instilled discipline into the young playing group, but were cautious of the impact late season injuries could have on the club’s finals campaign.

 

Final scores: Jeparit 19.16 (130) defeated Murtoa 14.18 (102)

 

Around the Wimmera League grounds

 

Horsham and Dimboola produced the closest contest of the round, with the fast finishing Demons getting home by two points with the last kick of the day. Nhill were not seriously challenged by Warracknabeal after the first change and ran out winners by 46 points. Stawell broke the shackles applied by a plucky Rupanyup in the first half, winning by 45 points. At Minyip, the match was effectively over at quarter time after Ararat blitzed the home side with eight goals to nil with first use of the breeze. The Blues steadied but could not catch up on the Rats’ scoreboard ascendancy.

 

The issue of Ararat’s anticipated ‘move’ to the Ballarat League in 1976 was about to come to a head at a meeting between the parties.

 

Next week in the Wimmera League

 

Horsham v Minyip, Warracknabeal v Nhill, Jeparit v Ararat, Rupanyup v Stawell, Murtoa v Dimboola.

 

The Farrer League

 

The NSW State Championships were played at Narrandera coinciding with a mid-season break in the home and away fixtures. Four leagues participated in the carnival: Sydney, SWDFL, Farrer and Murray. The Farrer League were coached by MCU leader Graham ‘Curly’ Ion.

 

The Farrer League was opposed to the SWDFL on the Saturday and the Murray League on the Sunday of the weekend carnival. In the first match, played in the wet, the South West romped away in the last quarter to win by 32 points. The player who turned the tide for the South West was Grong Grong- Matong captain coach Laurie Pendrick who eclipsed Farrer League star Jeff Nimmo in the second half.

 

In the Sunday match against the Murray League, the Farrer team put up a good show but fell short by 13 points. In the final, Sydney made it two championship victories in a row after they kicked a goal with only 10 seconds left on the clock. The ‘villain’ was former Narrandera player Ken Forbes (Western Suburbs), who goaled for the city side with a left foot snap at the death. South West had trailed by up to 55 points earlier in the afternoon but staged a stunning comeback to take the lead deep into the thrilling final term.

 

After the carnival the NSW state team to play Tasmania in July was selected. Farrer League players included in the 22 man squad were: Jeff Nimmo, Norm Hagan, Terry O’Keefe and Colin Hounsell (despite not playing in the carnival). South West were represented in the state team by Jim Prentice, Graham Miller, Lou Alchin, Tom Doolan, Laurie Pendrick and Stephen Margosis.

 

Next week in the Farrer League

 

The second half of the season commences with the big clash at McPherson Oval between the top two teams, North Wagga and Wagga. TR-YC meet Holbrook in our match of the day, Culcairn take on MCU, Collingullie are pitted against Henty, while Temora host Lockhart.

 

Next episode’s featured player is The Rock-Yerong Creek’s full forward Bob Driscoll.

 

This week’s featured player: Peter (‘Dickie’) Morrison

 

 

Triple Toohey medallist Peter Morrison was a driving force in Wimmera football at two clubs, Horsham and Murtoa. He is regarded by knowledgeable Wimmera Football followers as one of the league’s finest players of all time. His Wimmera League career was bookended at Horsham, where he commenced in 1967, followed by a string of seasons in the 1970s as coach of Murtoa, before he returned to his original club. Along the way he was scouted by Footscray, but after trialling at the Western Oval Morrison elected to stay in Horsham where he had a business.

 

‘Dicky’ Morrison won the league best and fairest award in 1975 and ’76 playing for Murtoa and claimed his third Toohey medal in 1982 with Horsham. He was a key to Horsham’s 1979 premiership win, ironically over his former club, hot flag favourites Murtoa.

 

The centreman was like a fox terrier, always in the thick of the action, equally at home bulldozing at the bottom of the pack or out in the open charging free. His courage, tackling pressure, perfect disposal skills and ability to read the play made him a standout player in Wimmera football. With those match-winning attributes it was therefore not surprising to see Morrison being tagged week after week. But his fierce desire to win meant that he was rarely beaten. Peter Morrison was the team’s engine room, the player who led by example and created both the spark and the grunt.

 

When his Horsham football days finished Morrison moved out to play with Laharum in the Horsham District League where he continued playing until his mid forties. By then he reckoned he had broken nearly every bone in his body while playing football.

 

 

 

In the VFL

 

Carlton gave a football lesson to a disappointing Geelong, South Melbourne pushed Collingwood all the way but could not add to their sole win of the season, St. Kilda displaced Essendon from the top five with a 68 point win, Fitzroy got home against Richmond, Footscray were too strong for Melbourne and in the match of the day, Hawthorn asserted its strength over North Melbourne.

 

In the words of coach John Kennedy the Hawks went “boom, boom, boom.” Leigh Matthews and Michael Moncrieff both booted five goals for the winners, while Peter Knights was best on ground. Ron Barassi was philosophical after North’s loss, while all agreed that the team who can shoot down the Hawks will win the ’75 premiership.

 

Meanwhile …

 

At Lord’s the West Indies won the inaugural Cricket World Cup. ‘Calypso King’ captain Clive Lloyd spearheaded his team to victory with a thrilling century. Australia’s chances were foiled by five run outs, leaving the underdogs 17 runs short of the Caribbean team’s total. Cricket lovers in Australia were able to watch the game live on ABC television. I clearly recall being enthralled in the match as I watched, eyes glued to the TV set, alongside a few mates on a wet night in Canberra after a big day at the footy. Where were you on June 21 1975?

 

Some things could not be watched on television however. The censors banned the films ‘The Adventures of Barry McKenzie’ and ‘Stork’ from being screened in Australian lounge rooms. But the drive-in was all the rage at the time. Horsham’s “Mota-Vu” drive-in was screening “The Mean Machine” starring Burt Reynolds.

 

 

 

 

Read more episodes of A Season in the Country – 1975 in the Wimmera and Farrer Leagues HERE 

 

 

To read about Geelong’s Record Run, click HERE.

 

 

Peter also wrote about St. Kilda’s premiership season in his 1966 and All That series. You can read that HERE.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Riverina Rocket says

    Another great read.

    I’m enjoying Jeparit’s winning streak.
    Your evocative description of Murtoa makes me want to visit.
    Two good mates of mine had their fathers go there to coach in the 50’s and 60s respectively.
    George Caris (South Melb) stayed on and ran an electrical goods repair shop.
    Geoff Sharp (Prahan) was a classic football journeyman – from Murtoa went to Camperdown, Narrandera, Collingullie, Kyabram, and Lancaster..

    Lozza Pendrick is widely regarded by his peers as the best footballer in the Riverina in the 70s.
    He always excelled in representative fixtures.
    Larger than life character.

    Look forward to the descriptions of The Rock – and Yerong Creek?

  2. Peter Clark says

    A trip to the Wimmera beckons.

    Thanks for your contributions Riverina Rocket.

    Although next week’s Farrer League game is played at Yerong Creek, I am saving it for the finals.
    So we will visit The Rock instead.

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