Remember when? Round 7

With next Saturday’s interleague clash in Shepparton against the Goulburn Valley FNL, let’s wind the clock back to the very first country championship clash between the old rivals.

Seventy years ago, under the guidance of the Victorian Country Football League the very first Country Championships took place in Ballarat on the 12th and 14th of June 1954.

Representative teams from the Ovens and Murray, Ballarat, Bendigo, Goulburn Valley, Riverina, and Mornington Peninsula took part.

In the Saturday morning matches, Ballarat beat Mornington Peninsula 12-10 to 5-12, while Bendigo beat Riverina. This meant that Bendigo and Ballarat would play off later in the afternoon with the winner advancing to the final on Monday.

The other semi-final would be OMFL taking on the Goulburn Valley – the historic encounter would see OMFL dominate the GV with only poor kicking in front of goal preventing a bigger margin.

OM led at half time 6-7 to 1-1, before cruising to victory in the second half winning 9-18-72 to 5-7-37. Best players were John Ziebarth, Don Calder, Lester Yensch, Neil Currie with Crampton kicking two goals.

The victory came at a cost with captain Marty McDonell (Yarrawonga) injured along with Don Calder (Wodonga) and Bill Byrne (Corowa). Rutherglen’s Greg Tate was elevated to captain and John Ziebarth (Albury) vice-captain for the final which would be against Bendigo who beat Ballarat by 30 points.

Then grand final was a classic with OMFL coming from an almost hopeless position at three quarter time to take out the title. Going into the final quarter Bendigo had doubled the OM in scoring shots to lead by 18 points 6-20 to 5-8.

Led superbly by captain Tate the Black and Gold stormed home with six last quarter goals in front of 4000 spectators to win 11-11-77 to 8-21-69 and take out the Alex M. King Cup. Other better players were Crampton, Thomas, Ziebarth, Morris and Currie. Both Tate and Ziebarth were equal winners of the player of the championship.

The Ovens and Murray team was – B: I McDonald (Y), N Currie (Myr), G Woods (Wang). HB: W Morris (Ruth), D Mitchell ((Myr), I Currie ((Ben). C: K Thomas (Alb), L Yensch (NA), W Luck (Wan). HF: J Gilfuis (Ruth), B Takle (Alb), F Elkington (Wod). F: W Dicks (Cor), K Gleeson (Ruth), J Waldron (WR). R: J Ziebarth (Alb), C Crampton (Ruth), G Tate (Ruth). RES: K Hurley (Ben), F Aked (Yar).

Team Manager was OMFL Secretary Cleaver Bunton, the team travelled by bus leaving Albury at 6.45 am on Friday and returning home Tuesday morning from Ballarat.

The two powerhouse leagues of country football have met on twenty-three occasions with the Ovens and Murray holding a 14-9 win loss advantage.