IN the mud and slush of mid-winter 1960 Echuca and Castlemaine scored surprise victories over fancied opponents Golden Square and Sandhurst.

The Advertiser’s chief football writer John Rice described the July 11th round 50 years ago as contested “on muddy battle grounds”.

“Tailenders Echuca downed the Square, which was fighting for a place in the four, although this was expected in some circles.

“Top club Sandhurst were beaten by Castlemaine, South Bendigo snatched a four-point victory over Rochester while Kyneton comfortably beat Eaglehawk,” Rice wrote on Monday, July 11, 1960.

“However what surprised me most was that not one player was drowned on the water-logged grounds,” the Addy scribe added.

The defeat left Rochester with only one win away from home in 1960’s opening 11 rounds. The Demons’ only away victory came in Round 1 when they accounted for Echuca.

But Rice conceded Rochester had a top chance of making the BFL top four. The Demons were to play five of their remaining eight matches for the 1960 season at home where they remained unbeaten, with just three away fixtures to come.

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AFTER the round had been completed Sandhurst, South, Kyneton and Rochester made up the top four with fifth-placed Castlemaine on the same number of premiership points as the Demons.

But the Magpies trailed Rochester by 15 per cent: 99.1% to Rochy’s 114.2%.

In sixth place, Golden Square was a game behind the Magpies – but with an exceptionally strong percentage of 104.5% — while Eaglehawk and Echuca clung to the two bottom rungs of the ladder.

Considering the ongoing saga of the QEO’s condition in 2010, it should come as no surprise to present day footy followers to hear how it was described half a century back.

Rice said the famous ground was “in the worst condition it has been for many years.”

He then engaged in a spot of exaggeration. “For most of the match it appeared Bloods and Demons players were participating in a game of water polo or practicing freestyle swimming for the (upcoming) Rome Olympics.”

All that aside, South produced a fighting last half to snatch victory in the dying moments of the big game.

The Advertiser scribe said he thought Rochester had made a huge mistake by leaving robust Fred Maxwell ‘freezing’ at full-forward for long passages of play.

Rice felt that Maxwell would have given the Demons far better service playing in the ruck. Apparently by the time the Rochy brains trust moved the big man into the ruck, it was too late to save the game.

Maxwell had been abysmal in front of goal a week earlier against Eaglehawk when he managed just 1.9.

At the QEO in the slush he nailed three goals from five shots.

But Rice wrote that South coach Ron Robertson inspired his team after half-time, continually gathering kicks at critical moments and using his weight to advantage.

“His deputy Alan Martin stopped many Rochester forward moves with timely marks and showed he is adaptable by continuing to play well when shifted to centre half-forward in the third term.”

Other good players for South were McAliece on a wing, Dennis Lee on a back flank, Pierce in the ruck and rover Ron Monro.

Little man Bernie Connors, unsighted in the first half when the Demons’ rovers were in command, flashed into play in the last quarter.

Rice felt Rochester should have established a winning lead by three-quarter time after leading by 13 points at the long break.

But they overdid the vigor and paid too much attention to Robertson. For the Demons, full-back Pat Hogan held South out repeatedly with his bustling tactics, timely marks and surprising speed.

“At one stage Hogan followed Robertson to a wing to get a kick. He was well backed up by back pocket player, Daryl Hooper who kept a tight rein on the resting rovers,” Rice reported.

Another good Rochester player was wingman Bob Kelly, who starred with repeated one-handed pickups and excellent left-foot kicking.

When Robertson moved himself into the centre Doug Keck took his place at full-forward. Keck put his team in front in the last quarter with a kick off the ground which rolled through the big sticks with only minutes to play.

With three, consecutive behinds Rochester wrested back the lead. However, Keck was not going to have the honour of kicking the winning goal taken from him.

He marked a kick from McAliece and again put South in front by scoring full points.

MEANWHILE, home side Echuca held the Square to one goal in the second half, and turned a six-point deficit at the long break into a ten-point winning margin.

The Bulldogs were hampered when their skipper John Ledwidge and ruckman ‘Delicate’ Des Dickson were injured in the third quarter and left the field. Both men injured their arms in separate incidents.

Nevertheless, Geoff Rosenow was in superb touch for the Murray Bombers at centre half-back and was the difference between the sides in the frantic, last few minutes.

Golden Square led 6.9 to 6.3 at half-time. But by lemon time  the Murray Bombers had sneaked out to a three-point lead (48 to 45) with Healey of Echuca the only third term goal-scorer. The Bulldogs were scoreless.

Echuca wrapped up the four, premiership points with two goals to one in the last quarter. Healey took his tally to three with Square’s only six-pointer scored by rover Matthews.

AT THE sodden Camp Reserve, the Magpies fought back from a 31-point deficit at quarter-time to beat Sandhurst by 10 points.

After chipping away at Sandhurst’s lead, Castlemaine sealed the victory in the final quarter. Centre half-forward Dickson started a move which ended with ruckman Strong goaling.

Andrew Berry kicked his fourth major for the Magpies and even though Kupsch replied for the Maroons, Castlemaine had done enough.

Robin Hilson was a star for Castlemaine from his half-back flank, receiving top support from Strong, Williams, McMillan and Brown. The Maroons were best served by Hamilton, Frank Lenaghan, Kupsch and Keogh.

KYNETON turned in perhaps the best wet weather performance of the round, downing a patchy Eaglehawk by 16 points at Canterbury Park.

The Tigers played well within themselves and showed indications of better things to come, the Advertiser wrap-up said.

Although skipper Clive Philp was held goalless by Two Blues’ defender Mick Radford, Kevin Parks celebrated his 24th birthday with three majors and the best afield award.

His towering marks under bad conditions were the highlight of his game. Other standout Tigers were Hanrahan, Chard, Bowe, Rodda and Edwards. Eaglehawk’s best were Lane, Bull, Ilsley, Calverley and Radford.

Final scores: South Bendigo 7.8 (50) def. Rochester 6.10 (46); Kyneton 7.13 (55) def Eaglehawk 6.3 (39); Castlemaine 8.12 (60) def. Sandhurst 7.8 (50) and Echuca 9.7 (61) def. Golden Square 7.9 (51). Castlemaine’s Andrew Berry and Kyneton’s Clive Philp shared top billing in the goalkicking award with 30 majors.

Richard’s tips for Round 13: Golden Square, Gisborne, Strathfieldsaye, South Bendigo and Eaglehawk. Season total: 51.


  1. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    Thanks Richard – I love these reports!

    The Bendigo league was pretty competitive back then – as it turns out Rochy & Kyneton played off in the GF – the top two sides after this round didn’t make it.

    Interesting to see a young Geoff Rosenow starring for Echuca – who was coaching the Murray Bombers then? Geoff at the very end of his career coached Rochy – got ’em into the finals in 1979 for the first time since re-entering the GVL in 1973 after the rotten BFL keep us out of football for a year! Not sure that he ever coached Echuca, don’t think he did.

  2. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    Forgot to mention how muddy the Kyneton Showgrounds were for footy…
    played there once – not only was it a quagmire it was raining and absolutely freezing cold!
    One of the trainers bought out the sweet sherry at three-quarter time to try to warm us up.
    Went home on a special football train – beaten, but unbowed.

  3. Richard Jones says

    WILL do an end of the 1960 home and away season report, Rocket.

    So back to the Bendigo Library’s microfilm department and time on scrolling through the August 1960 files. They have a marvellous collection of the old Bendigo Addies, plus copies of the half-a-dozen or so old Goldfields papers which have long since gone to God.
    Amazing to me to see so many people, of both genders, busy researching family histories. Often of pretty far distant rellos, at that.

    At one stage Bendigo had 3 competing morning dailies, would you believe. I know we’re well past the 100,000 population mark leaving Ballarat in our wake now, but it was a much smaller city in the late 19th century-early 20th century. Even had its own stock exchange with listings of the myriad of gold mining outfits. Exchange was on the upstairs floors of the old Beehive building on Pall Mall.

    By the way, the 1960 footy reporter John Rice is the brother of Geelong 1963 premiership rover Colin Rice. Little Ricey later captain-coached South Bendigo to the 1969 Bendigo F.L. flag (South 70, Eaglehawk 67).

    Johnny Rice later went to the pink paper, the Sporting Globe.

  4. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    I see in the Bendigo Advertiser earlier in the year that Geoff Rosenow was honoured by the Victorian Police by admission to the Hall of Fame. Geoff passed away in 1999. He had played into his forties. He kept himself very fit. He was playing coach of Rochy at age 39 – based as a copper in Echuca. The family now live in Bendigo. A well-known Echuca name. I have cousins named Rosenow.

    Look forward to the 1960 end of season report!

  5. Rocket,

    I once strained my hamstring jogging on to the Kyneton oval to start the game. It wasn’t that cold, just very embarrassing.

  6. John Rice is my father and he is now actually back living in Bendigo

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