Remember when? With Robbie Mackinlay - round 2

Another huge season in the OMFNL has kicked off where more history will be created, and memorable moments made – as it has since 1893 when Beechworth beat Rutherglen to win the very first premiership. This week we are delving back into the season of 1983 as we uncover some of the great moments in our league’s history.  

What really struck me the heavy scoring in most games, particularly the first two rounds. 1983 was also the year that the two-umpire system was used for the first time – one from the VFL and the other from the local umpire’s board. It was also the 125th year of Australian Rules.

North Albury kicked 36-15-231 in round one against Corowa Rutherglen with Robert Harrington (14 gls) and Peter Westland (12 gls) dominating. Myrtleford despite kicking 20-10-130 in round one lost a thriller to Albury 20-18-138. The lowest winning score in round 1 was Benalla 18-18-116 against Wodonga. Lavington with 22-21-153 won by 62 points against Wangaratta but only had 7 more scoring shots as the Magpies kicked 11-25. The final round one game had Wangaratta Rovers boot 20-13-133 to Yarrawonga 9-15-69. Other big goal kickers in round one were Stephen Lalor from Benalla 8 gls, Daryl Bakes Albury and Myrtleford recruit Peter Ruscuklic both 7 gls.

Round two saw eight of the ten teams all topping the century only Wodonga 12-7-79 and Wangaratta 12-19-91 missing the ton. Once again it was North Albury leading the goal splurge with 32-18-210 against Benalla 12-7-79. Westland kicking just the 8 gls and Harrington 5 gls. Wodonga and Wangaratta Rovers played out a thrilling 132- 132 draw.

Remarkably, the following week Wodonga played another draw, 106 all versus Lavington. Myrtleford with Peter Ruscuklic booting 12 gls beat Corowa Rutherglen 20-23-143 to 19-8-122. To complete round two Albury beat Wangaratta 20-15-135 to 12-19-91. Peter Ruscuklic was a goal kicking machine in the Sydney Football League where he starred for East Sydney. Ruscuklic at one stage kicked 505 goals in three seasons, with a sequence of 136, 156 and 213 goals from 1979 to 1981.

The coaches at each club in 1983 were Mick Stilo (Benalla), Greg Nichols (Myrtleford), Ken Roberts (Lavington), John Tresize (Yarrawonga), Neville Hogan (Wangaratta), Tom Doolan (Albury), Martin Cross (North Albury), David McLeish (Wodonga), John Welch (Wang Rovers) and John Clancy (Corowa-Rutherglen). Noel Long from Yarrawonga was the interleague coach.

Jack White was the President of the OMFL with league legends Sonny Downs (Secretary and Cleaver Bunton (Treasurer). Five OMFL players David Doolan (Albury), Steve Hedley and John Collins (Wodonga, Steve Hickey (Benalla) and Wayne Steele (Wangaratta) had all joined North Melbourne.

It was a massive season in 1983 featuring arguably the greatest footballer ever – Gary Ablett Snr – but more about that in future editions.