Book Review: The History of the Hume Football League
Leon Wegener, HUME: A History of the Hume Football League 1933-2018. Active Print, Wagga Wagga. 2019.
By Dr Rodney Gillett
I was on the pub verandah, a resting on a chair, When a man appeared before me, he had a yarn to share “I’ll tell you of a football match, its steeped in Hume League history”,
(Excerpts from The Great Decider by Barry Malone in the Hume League history book)
The gathering of the clubs of the Hume Football League for the grand final each year at Walbundrie (population 190) is the premier sporting and social event of the year in the area.
Crowds of over 5000 have regularly attended the grand final at the Walbundrie Recreation Reserve since 1972. This has enabled the league to focus on preparing one ground for the finals and providing facilities for coaches and officials as well as for clubs for catering.
The Hume Football Netball League is a very proud, well-organised, community-orientated football league based in the rural districts between Wagga and Albury in southern NSW.
As Leon Wegener the author of the history of the Hume Football League shows the Hume league came into being in 1933 at a meeting when four clubs split from the Central Hume Association because of “… too much travelling” (p.46). Jindera is the only original member still in the league.
The Central Hume Association folded in 1935, and three clubs, Burrumbuttock, Walla Walla and Walbundrie joined the Hume league, and all are still in it, albeit in merged entities.
Leon is able to trace the beginning of competitive football, as opposed to challenge matches, back to 1909 with the formation of the Germantown (now known as Holbrook) & District Association which was made up of teams from Culcairn, Henty, Cookardinia, and Holbrook.
He also the plots the beginnings in surrounding district competitions such as Lockhart, Walbundrie, Urana, and Milbrulong with special attention to the Coreen & District League which folded at the end of the 2007 season. Four of the Coreen clubs joined the Hume league, while another club Rand, merged with near-neighbours Walbundrie, in 2008.
In 2019, each of the constituent clubs in the Hume Football Netball League, which now numbers twelve, fielded four football teams and seven netball teams as well as conducting an Auskick and NetSetGo programs.
The mantra, according to long-time league secretary Barry Malone in the Foreword to the book is “The Family League – all games on the same day at the one venue”.
Leon Wenger takes a year-by-year approach to the chronicling of the history of the Hume League with the ladders for each grade, player awards, and finals results.
However, it is not just all about how the season unfolded on the field. His access to the league’s minute books from the late 1940s provides useful insights into the machinations at the club delegates’ meetings.
He dutifully records the coming and goings of clubs which have been numerous; he carefully charts the entry of former Farrer League clubs: Culcairn (1992) and Holbrook (1999) back into the NSW competition from the Tallangatta league through reference to contemporary newspaper sources.
The author has referred to a wide range of sources and in addition to official league records and district and regional newspapers, he has tapped into football club histories by Walla, Henty, Howlong, Culcairn, Brocklesby, Osborne, Urana, and Alan Norman’s excellent work: The Finals History of the Coreen & District Football League.
Leon also refers to my Masters of Letters dissertation on the early history of football in the Riverina to account for the rise of the game in the region, to trace the beginnings of clubs, and the role of the railways providing transportation of players and spectators to games.
The most intriguing source is the 49 scrap books of legendary league powerbroker Des Kennedy, the Walla post-master, who served the league from 1962 until his untimely death in 1992.
Leon’s Appendices are extensive and include a complete record since the league started in 1933 of league office-bearers, finals placings and player awards in all grades, the placings each year of every club (including former and disbanded clubs), the Coreen League honour roll, and the honour roll for the Hume Junior Football League (1950-1976).
There are photographs of almost every senior premiership team and of all the league’s Hall of Fame members.
This is a complete history of a dynamic district football league that is inextricably connected to its community. The book may be purchased from the HFNL:firstname.lastname@example.org. This 405 page publication is also available over the counter from the Walla Post Office for $50 – it is well worth the read.