Almanac Bush Footy: Footy at Lake Cargelligo – Part 2

By David Ogilvy

Having passed through Lake Cargelligo last year with my wife and experiencing country footy in the Northern Riverina first hand, I decided to get a gang of blokes together and head back there again this year.

The first question I am asked is why? Maybe the following will help explain why we did it and why we will do it again

With “weather fine and track good” we wandered down the street on Saturday morning to a country brekky only to be greeted by a bus load of Hillston junior footballers and netballers on their way to West Wyalong to play(203 Kilometres each way). Distance in this league is not a barrier.

As the locals say if you arent prepared to travel there are no opportunities for the players.

After this it was down to the oval situated near the Lake which has now got water in it thanks to floods upstream.

As we arrived the juniors were going through their paces against Tullibigeal their nearest rival.

My mates were intrigued at the young lad in the forward pocket who each quarter kept changing guernseys – we couldnt work out which team was short.

“Pie and Hot-dog” time saw us leave the comfort of the car  and walk to the canteen. On the way we were bewildered to see a ladder against the club rooms and as we approached the video cameraman was helped onto the roof (this video was replayed at the presentations later in the evening).

We were soon introduced to the President Stan Hague who was most welcoming and enthusiastic about our trip – never at a country football match have we been made to feel so welcome. It was not long before I had the envelope for the best players thrust into my hands (I wasnt going to be the bunny picking the best players  alone so it was a cooperative effort all round by the “ring-ins”). Thanks Ray….

One of the locals said you must be visitors as we know all the locals. He then began to tell us about all his “rellies” in South Oz. The field ump said he had relatives at Blinnman in the Flinders Ranges – how many footy  followers get to talk to the Ump on the boundary before a match  about where they live?

The “Lakes ” have a great team of runners and experienced players. Two young Aboriginal lads soon dominated the game where they ran effortlessly over the opposition.Their pacy on ballers “killed” the opposition. Half time saw the footballers out on the oval so we all went out to listen to the coach – one of our gang heard the oppositon coach call for his lads to “keep their heads up” but it was in vain as they were 15 goals down.

When the match finished (The Lakes won by more than 190 pts ) we were invited back to the Bowls Club who are the sponsors (they swap sponsorship around after 2 years so all organisation in the town get the benefit).

Half way through our meal the ” Strapper” of the team said the Club wanted to thank us for attending and asked one of us to say a few words- this was beyond the call of duty.

More beers flowed until we made a quick exit with the senior member of our group saying he hadn’t had a better reception anywhere in the “bush”.

The “Lakes” have a great team who no doubt will play a part in the finals this year. Their last match before the finals is at Cobar a bus trip and about  300 kms away but as the President said”dehydration on the trip home wont be a problem for the lads as there will be a beer on the bus and we’ll stop at the Mt Hope pub but dont tell them that”


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    Sounds like an enjoyable trip and the locals appreciated your interest.

  2. johnharms says

    Cracker. I should have wandered across from the nation’s capital.

  3. David,

    Great report in your weekend in the northern riverina.

    I once spent a great footy weekend in Ungarie, which is just down from Tullibigeal. My experience was the same as yours – never have I struck better hospitality at the footy.

    The day after the match, I was driven to a few local sights – like the old Four Corners footy ground, which will always remain in my memory. The goalposts were still those lopped from the trunks of nearby trees in 1948.

    That night, the McGranes invited me out to their place for tea. The McGranes lived on the next farm to the Danihers. Recently they moved to the Gold Coast. I reckon Ungarie would have mourned for a good while after their departure.

    I don’t know that any VFL/AFL players have come from Lake Cargelligo. I suspect that our good colleague Rocket Gillett might fill us in on that.

    But I do know that the club has spawned the Sanson family. Four Sanson brothers played at the strong Lavington footy club in the Ovens and Murray league a decade ago.

    Tim Sanson, an interleague centre half-forward, coached for a decade, with some success, too. Lavington defeated poor old Myrtleford by two points to win the flag a few years ago.

  4. Tim Sanson spent some years at the Swans in the U19s and reserves but didn’t quite get there for a senior game. I think his brother Mark also played some U19s matches.

  5. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    You’re spot on Daff – the Lake is the home of the Sansons.

    Both Tim & Mark played at both Under 19 and reserve grade level for the Swans, not sure if Timmy ever jagged a senior match, don’t think so. Their father, Ross, is a gem of a bloke.

    I’m pretty sure Tim coached Lavy last season, not sure if he’s still doing it. Mark coached Henty a few years ago after enjoying a lot of success with Tim and other brothers at Lavington.

    Stan Hague has been a great man for the Northern Riverina league as have the Danihers, the Irelands and the Imries – all wonderful people as David experienced in his visit to the Lake.

    Quite a change in composition to the NRL this decade with Cobar, Hillston and Parkes coming in.
    Sadly Condobolin, Tallimba, Four Corners have gone, and Lake Cargellico supports only the one club – no more Lake Swans & Lake Tigers.

  6. Rocket,

    Condobolin gone? Is that recent?

    Parkes, Cobar, Hillston (I always think of Jill Ker Conway’s Road From Coorain when I see the word Hillston) … makes the distances in Victorian country footy seem like walks up to the end of the street.

    I remember the Ungarie people saying Cobar was 300 kilometres north – way north of footy country. Apparently the players were mostly South Australian opal miners.

  7. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    Daff, anything in the last 20 years is recent…

    Hillston used to be a strong rugby league town – the Bluebirds used to often win in Group 17. But with the demise of that competition footy has taken over in Hillston. Both Cobar and Parkes (the “Spacemen”) field both footy and league teams. Parkes were founding members of the Central West AFL in 1984, and seem to alternate between that comp and the NRL.

    These clubs have rejuvenated the Northern Riverina league. But I understand that both Tullibigeal and Ungarie are struggling to field complete teams, so I guess mergers are inevitable – eventually.

  8. Justin Sanson says

    Just to let you know , the Lake Cargelligo Tigers have just taken out the 2012 Premiership defeating West Wyalong Girral by 23 points.
    That means ,since and including 2002 the Tigers have won 6 premierships and and played in all but the 2005 Grand Final.

  9. Justin Paul says

    Blast from the past for what its worth, I still have my Wool jersey with Blackers Newsagency sponsors. Lost touch a lot with the club, but never regret Ross & his son Paul Sanson’s encouragement to play back when I was in U/13 and my son Oscar now plays for Orange Tigers. Thanks to this club for my VFL start (now AFL).

  10. Thanks for your comment Justin. As luck would have it we have a special old woollen footy jumpers page with articles and photos about some old classics.

    If you have a minute please take a pic of your old jumper and shoot it over to us. [email protected]


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