Almanac Local Footy: Mullewa v Railways

A Demon of a weekend For Saints

It was a 10 out of 10 – however it was anything but perfect.

Game 10 of the season for Mullewa, an indigenous town of a few hundred people in the Midwest of WA, served up the same result as the first nine. But the pain on the weekend was greater, this time a 148-point loss to Railways.


Mullewa, 100 kilometres east of Geraldton, are the Saints of the seven side Great Northern Football League.


They won their first flag in 1966 – in the same week the Saints of the AFL won their only flag in the VFL. This year the Western Saints, St.Kilda’s WA supporter group, presented Mullewa with a replica of the jumper their side wore when beating Collingwood by a point 50 years ago. It was supposed to be the start of something special.


Just three seasons ago, Mullewa won their eighth flag, when Revis Ryder was the coach. Then a copper in the tiny town of Yalgoo (120 kilometres further east), Ryder is the father of former Essendon ruckman and now Port Adelaide listed player, Paddy Ryder. Paddy was at the grand final in 2013 – as was Mullewa-reared television personality, Ernie Dingo.


But those days are just a memory. Last year Mullewa – coached by then 21-year-old Josh Simpson – was knocked out in the first semi-final. Also by Railways. 


Simpson, a local, oozes skills. He played two games with the Fremantle Dockers before they ran out of patience with his ways. He missed a flight for a game against the Sydney Swans and didn’t play again. He came back home last year and had a go at coaching. He and his team played some flashy football in patches. 


Simpson, hungry to try and get back into the AFL, returned to Perth at the end of last year. He headed to East Fremantle (Geraldton is in their zone), who are under the control of former Richmond and West Coast star, Rob Wiley. However, Simpson has been in and out of the Sharks league side and twice played for Mullewa early this season – once after being dropped at WAFL level for disciplinary reasons.


Two days before the clearance cut-off date of June 30, Simpson said he wanted to join Railways in the GNFL for the remainder of the 2016 season. Such a move made for much talk pre- the Railways-Mullewa match last weekend, with banter Simpson would be targeted. The Railways match committee decided not to play Simpson, but his non-appearance made no difference to the scoreboard, 26.21 to 4.5.


Now Mullewa have just four matches to make something of a difference to their year. Regardless if they win or not, 2016 will be remembered as a demon of a season for the Saints.



PETER SWEENEY is in his second year as president of Mullewa. He has been a journalist in his native Victoria and WA since 1972, having covered AFL, WAFL and country leagues.




  1. Sweens, has the situation reached the stage where you might have to pull on the boots for the Saints?
    Interesting that Josh Simpson joined Railways rather than returning to Mullewa after his up-and-down stint with East Fremantle.

  2. Peter Sweeney says

    It’s looking like that Pete – and that would be a Carter-astrophy. Think you’ll find Josh may be getting a bit in the back pocket, if you figure what I mean. Railways rate themselves a chance of winning this year, though Towns, led by Chris Kane (who played 100-plus SANFL games and was Hayward medallist, South West League, last year) are red-hot. Josh, who tells me he has had AFL clubs in contact, comes back to Mullewa next year. Supposedly.

  3. Tony Tea says

    I played against Mullewa in 1987 and played with Revis in the Westfarmers championships, which Great Northern won besting the South West. It was the first time SW had lost in, ooooooo, about 80 years and we won by over 20 goals.

  4. Carter-astrophy. Very good, Sweens, you haven’t lost your magical touch up there in the Mid West. A touch that you regularly exhibited around goal when you and Tucky were winning games for Berwick a “few” years ago.
    Tony, I reckon the Country Week teams would’ve loved the conditions this year. Some of the WAFL grounds were like cow paddocks in what’s been the wettest season I can remember.

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