Lockhart’s Stunning Upset Grand Final Win Over Wagga Tigers in 1960
Sixty years ago, Lockhart caused a major boil-over in the Farrer Football League grand final when they defeated the unbeaten Wagga Tigers, who were gunning for four premierships in a row.
As it turns out, Tigers won the premierships for the next two years, but on the 10th September 1960, the then-Bulldogs 16.14.110 beat Wagga 14.10.94 at the Yerong Creek Recreation Reserve. The gate was £423.
Lockhart led by Riverina master-coach Bernie Sculley had come from third on the ladder at the culmination of the home-and-away games to beat Henty in the first semi-final at Culcairn, and then Culcairn at Mangoplah, to earn a crack at the all-conquering Tigers.
Sculley came to the Riverina to coach Ariah Park Mirrool in the South West League in 1955 from North Melbourne where he had played in the Reserves after being recruited from Ormond CYMS.
He coached the Brown Bombers to a flag in his first year then to two memorable grand finals in 56-57 against Ganmain led by ex North Melbourne ruckman Mick Grambeau, then the highest paid footballer in Australia on £75 per game plus a house and a milking cow.
Sculley went to coach Lockhart in the Farrer league from 1959-61. Perhaps his greatest coaching triumph was as non-playing coach of the South West representative team that won the Victorian Country Championships in 1964.
His opposite number at Wagga Tigers, Tim Robb, also has an exemplary coaching record in the Riverina after moving from North Melbourne where he’d played in the 1950 VFL grand final to coach The Rock in 1952. He played 40 games with Footscray in 1947-49 after starting at Yarraville in the VFA. He then moved to North Albury and led them to a flag in 1955.
Robb moved to Wagga to coach Tigers and led them to five premierships, 1957-59 and 1961-62. He later coached teams to premierships at Collingullie, Walbundrie, and Lockhart in the Hume league in 1981. He also coached North Wagga and Albury Tigers.
In 1960, Robb, a rover-forward topped the Farrer league goalkicking list with 69 goals ahead of Culcairn’s evergreen Harry “Splinter” Liston with 65; “Splinter” would end up playing over 600 games for the Lions.
The competition’s best and fairest award, the Baz medal was won by Wagga’s Les “Sonny” Morrow, who would return to Collingullie as captain-coach when they entered the Farrer league in 1965.
Also in Tigers’ 1960 grand final team were vice-captain and men’s clothing retailer Ed Farrah, well-known Wagga realtor Milton Breust, rugged defender Col Lyons (from Yerong Creek), and tenacious rover Terry McGee.
While for Lockhart on the team list were vigorous vice-captain Ken Smith, leading ruckman Rod Habrecht, the Angove brothers, Des and “Tucker” from Milbrulong, and the speedy Perryman brothers, Geoff and Doug (who was 20th man). Doug is the grandfather of current GWS Giants player, Harry Perryman.
How do we know all this?
The Society has recently taken possession of all the match day programs produced for the Farrer Football League, then called “The Crier” from the first edition in 1960. These programs are now available on the NSW AFL History Society’s website.
The programs came to us in a very circuitous way. We got them from AFL Riverina in Wagga who had received them from former Farrer league and Wagga Tigers’ president John Bance. They had been dropped off in a big wooden trunk all neatly bound at Bance’s funeral parlour by Christine Power (wife of Wagga Tigers’ legend Peter “Pebbles” Power) for her aunt Chris, the wife of the late Bert Schmidt, the founding editor and publisher of “The Crier”.
Even the quarter-by-quarter scores are meticulously hand-written in all editions of the finals programs. For a full profile of Bert Schmidt click here.
The price of the program in 1960 was 6d.
Written by Rod Gillett – NSW AFL History Society President