Lockhart: On the Premiership Trail 1982

Podcast Review: “Lockhart: The Premiership Trail” Mackinlay, R. (Host) (2022, 14 April) [Audio podcast episode]. In Glory Days. Your Sport and Media

By Rod Gillett

Lockhart 1982 Premiers (names below)

When Lockhart left the Farrer league to join the Hume Football League for the 1982 season they had to change their strip from red, white and blue to avoid clashing with foundation club Jindera.

The Lockhart Football Club became the “Demons”.

However, the change of guernsey proved a downfall for Lockhart when they took on Jindera early in the season; club president Graham “Bluey” Harper told Robbie Mackinlay for the podcast that Lockhart players kicked or handballed to their opponents for the whole game!

After leading at half-time, Lockhart lost by a point to the lowly Jindera Bulldogs.

“It was hard to get that out of our system”, lamented “Bluey”.

Mackinlay reveals that Lockhart’s winning record in the Farrer league was only 35%. Of the 384 games they played, they only won 134. The club won only one premiership, when in 1960 the Bulldogs ended Wagga Tigers’ unbeaten season under master Riverina coach Bernie Scully.

Ironically, the Wagga coach Tim Robb in 1960 was appointed the Lockhart non-playing coach for the 1982 season. Robb had an extremely successful track record as a coach having led Wagga Tigers to five premierships, Collingullie to two flags, as well as North Albury (1955) and Walbundrie (1978) respectively to a premiership.

Mackinlay reveals that there was divided opinion about the appointment of Tim Robb to the coaching position at Lockhart with many of the older supporters not fully in favour of “the dirty ankle-tapping little rover (from Wagga)”.

However, club elder Rex Sheather felt sure that Robb was the right choice to make the club competitive again and convinced the committee to hire him.

Despite a few “hissy fits” from Robb involving storm-offs from training when he drove back to Albury because of a poor turn-out at training and/or players being, Robb was eventually able to gel the playing group together.

According to ruckman Garry Knight, who travelled to training with Robb, “You had to be fair-dinkum with Robbie”.

After a mid-season hiding from top team Henty at the Henty Showgrounds, Robb made the players except for the few that had played well to stay on the field after the game and train much to the delight of the Henty supporters who ridiculed the Lockhart players.

At the half-way mark of the season Lockhart had only won four games.

But as mid-fielder Pigdon told Mackinlay, “It was a slow build, but we built and built, until we were the best, then we won the premiership”.

After getting into the top four, the newly minted Demons went to Walla (third) for the last match of the season; it was a simple equation, Lockhart had to win to make the finals, lose, and they would miss the finals.

Following a great second half, they won by 41 points and jumped into 2nd place: top team Henty blasted Brockelsby, which had been in the “four” all season, out of the finals. On the hand, Lockhart had spent half-the-season outside the four.

In the second semi-final in a major reversal of its early season clash with old Farrer league rival Henty, Lockhart stormed into its first grand final since 1968 with a stunning 94-point victory.

The Lockhart Demons had to wait patiently for its grand final opponent to be revealed after Henty and Walla played a thrilling 113-point draw in the preliminary final, but then the “Swampies” convincingly won the replay by 50 points.

Henty was seeking its first premiership since 1937 had entered the Hume league the previous season but did not even make the finals.

However, it was Lockhart that emerged victorious after restricting its opponent to just two goals 3 behinds in the first quarter kicking with a wind estimated to be worth eight goals; by half-time, the Demons had a 22-point lead, and despite a Henty comeback in the third quarter, went on to win comfortably, 13.17.95 to 7.6.48.

It was a glorious season for the Demons; captain Graham “Hooter” Johnston tied for the Azzi medal and gun recruit Warren “Wally” Sykes, who rolled into town at the start of the season on the first stage of “a trip around Australia”, booted a record 133 goals to win the league goal-kicking award. “Wally” never left.

As Mackinlay proclaims, “The former easy-beats became a remarkable force that rejuvenated a club and a community”.

The photograph shows the following:

Back:  Beres Dowdle, Ross Merriton, Ross Campbell, Rodney Knight, Roger Stephens, Garry Knight, Ross Brennan
Middle:  Gary Burkinshaw (Boundary Umpire), John Renner, Mark O’Shaughnessy, Rowley Alexander,
Stephen Dowdle, Leon Tipping, Rex Sheather, Peter Alexander, Mark Powell, John Trevaskis (Trainer), Ken Trevaskis (Runner)
Seated:  Keiran Mahony, Paul (Tom) Wooden, Graeme (Blue) Harper, Graham Johnstone (Capt), Tim Robb (Coach), Warren Sykes, Peter Hyde, John Goode
Front:  Jamey Anderson, Murray Pigdon, Peter Breed, Darren Smallwood

(Names supplied by Liz Lane)

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