Local Footy: Memories of Tungamah

By Jack Sheridan

My first recollection of seeing the Tungamah footy team would have been as an ankle-biter in the early 1930s when they played in the green and gold — like  the old Northcote team in the VFA, green with a gold yoke and collar.  My father played for Tunga.

I recall that during the World War 2 years Tungamah played against Yarrawonga, Benalla, Wangaratta, Corowa and Rutherglen wearing the old South Melbourne colours of white with a red “V”.

In the mid-40s they didn’t have a seconds team so at age 15 I went to play with Wilby for a season just to be able to get a chance to play footy. Then I returned to play with Tungamah.

Great team members I played with includes Phil Cooper, Leo Wren and my mentor the wonderful Norman Skinner.

The Tungamah versus  Burramine games were ferocious. Most of the players of both sides were great mates — drinking together, going to Saturday night dances together, going to Sunday morning Mass together — but cross that white line on Saturday arvo and it was really “on” – World War 3.

One of the best players I ever saw outside the VFL played for Burramine.  He was Malcolm Hughes the uncle of international Test cricketer and VFA footballer Mervyn Hughes.

I remember many years ago the three Kreeck brothers were to play on the same day for Tunga. General conversation was about who were the last three brothers to play in the same team.  I thought it was the O’Briens (Vin, Leo and Jack) and was somewhat amazed a bit later when looking at photos on the walls of the clubrooms to see myself and younger brothers Peter and Basil.

Over the years Tungamah have won a few premierships.  This Saturday we have the firsts, seconds and thirds in the Picola and District grand finals at Dookie as well as four of the Tungamah netball teams.  The firsts are playing Shepparton East. What a great effort for this little one-pub town and I wish them all success.

The Tungamah Football Club is one of the oldest Aussie rules clubs. I have been told that they have a record of having always fielded a team even through two world wars.

Tungamah players to make it in the “big time” include Bob “Pud” May with  Hawthorn and Les “Salty” Parish with Fitzroy and Melbourne.

Carn Tunga!!!


  1. Hi Jack,

    Why was Norm Skinner such a good mentor?

    And is Leo Wren the father or grandfather of Rob Wren?

    Rob has been a premiership player, coach, you name it, at Tungamah. I think he’s still involved and will be the runner on Saturday.

    I gather Rob spent some time at Richmond in the late ’80s/early ’90s.

  2. Jack Sheridan says

    Norman Jellicoe Skinner was a local blacksmith who was a great student of the game. He told me he had learned a lot from listening to Ted Fell a local butcher who was vice captain of Carlton in the early 1900’s. (Ted’s captain was Jim Flynn who came from Wilby about 10 kilometrefromTungamah) Norm was as tough as the proverbial goats knees – in a grandfinal againstBurraminehe broke one of the bones in his forearm in the first quarter and played the game out. One thing he taught me was to play a kick behind (or in front) of the play or as Jack Dyer once said “Don’t get where the ball aint”>
    Leo Wren, who also believed in the theory that the shortest path between two objects was a straight line and never took a backward step, was Bob Wren’s great uncle. Bon was signed with Richmond but I don’t think he played with the firsts but did play with the “Magoos

  3. Jack,

    Love the expression “tough as the proverbial goats knees”.

    You’re right about Rob Wren: played seconds at Tigerland.

    Just curious to know: why isn’t Crackers Keenan listed in the Tungamah alumni? He always claims on radio to be from Tungamah.

  4. Stephen Cooke says

    Speaking of old players – does anyone know what happened to former number 1 draft pick Stephen Hooper, who the Cats picked up from WA in 1990? They sent Shane Hamilton and David Cameron to Brisbane after a forgettable 1990 and used the number one pick on the big fella who went on to play 20 odd games.

  5. Sorry Cookey, don’t know, but Les Everett is our man. He should know.

  6. Greg Buerckner says

    Paul Crakers Keenan never played for Tungamah. My brother Ray always boasts that he played on crackers one day against Wilby seconds. Crackers later played for Yarrawonga before he went to Melbourne

  7. Yes Rob Wren was drafted to the Bulldogs in 1989

  8. pauldaffey says

    Thanks Greg and Smooth.

    Never knew that about Crackers.

  9. Darren Haw says

    Hi – Great to read the article. My Grandfather – Bob Haw – and Great Uncle – Jack Haw – played together in a premiership with Tungamah. It must have been in the 1920’s at a guess – I have the premiership photo. Jack Haw went on and played 13 games for Melbourne and played in the VFL’s first drawn final against Collingwood in 1928. Hope this is of interest

  10. Jack Merton Cooper from Tungamah played 15 games for Carlton 1933-34.
    He is one of the many players we don’t have an image for.
    We do have a team photo from a match in 1934 in which he appears, but which one is he? The team photo doesn’t have the names.
    So if some one can identify him from this team photo that would be great. Please go to http://www.blueseum.org , from left hand side of the Home page, click Players, then alphabetically to his name, click, and his bio page will appear.

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