South West District Football League – 1934 Premiership Not Awarded

In 1934 the Narandera (spelt that way then) Imperials won the South West District Football League (in the Riverina) Grand Final, 11-12 (78) to Matong’s 7-9 (51).

This was the club’s third successive premiership after having just made the final four.  The grand final was played at Coolamon in the presence of a large number of spectators, the gate receipts amounting to £53/8/, ($5,271 in today’s money).  Over five hundred people travelled on the special train which ran from Narandera that day.  Alby Treloar was named best on the ground for the Imps.

Then the following Tuesday, Secretary of the Narandera Club, Tom Gordon received a bombshell in the form of an intimation from the Secretary of the S.W.D. Football League.  He said that the Matong Club had lodged a protest against Narandera being awarded the grand final, in that Narandera played two players, namely, Alby Treloar and Doug Weir, who had not complied with the club residential rule of the time.  Matong were keen to have the match replayed.

Weir’s residence was later confirmed at meeting of league officials however Treloar was required to sign a statutory declaration stating that he was not working at Lane’s (a local business) for the 21 days prior to the 12th May 1934; and was residing in Narandera during that period, the declaration was to be produced within one week from the meeting.

The Narandera club lodged an appeal against the Judiciary Committee’s decision which was heard by the Victorian Country Football League in mid-October.  The appeal was dismissed.

As the date for the presentation of the cup and the money alloted the premier team for the blazers bad been decided upon, the Narandera Club resolved to apply for an injunction to restrain the S.W.D.F.L. from handing over the cup or the blazers to Matong and Messrs. Matthews and Dan were instructed to engage counsel. When the preliminary application came before the Equity Court an interim injunction was granted by consent, each side having the right to restore the application to the list.

The Matong Club was mentioned as defendants owing to it having lodged the protest in the first instance.

Many letters were written between the representatives of the parties in the hope of ultimately arriving at a settlement.   At the 1936 annual meeting of the S.W.D.F.L., held in Narandera, during an adjournment both parties agreed upon a basis for negotiation. The terms of the agreement however, were not to be made public.

We however, have been able to find the basics of the agreement.  At that meeting the league President, Mr M. Maloney, said that they would be pleased to see Narandera back in the competition, but if it wanted to join the League it would have to drop the dispute (with Matong FC). Mr. McGee, the Ganmain delegate, thought that the offer of the Matong Club to forgo the right to the blazers and the premiership for 1934 was a worthy one.

The meeting was adjourned to seek discussion with the Narandera President with the following resolution suggested: ”Matong’s terms to’ Narandera Club are that each, club sign a declaration witnessed by a solicitor that the dispute between Matong and Narandera be dropped and neither team be awarded’ the premiership for 1934, and each club pay its own expenses.”

Although it was reported that the Narandera Imperials refused to accept this resolution, on the same day the Narandera Club re-affiliated with the S.W.D.F.L for the 1936 season, and thus brought to a close a dispute the like of which had never previously been experienced by the league and perhaps by any other sporting body.  It is very likely that a ruling similar to the one we revealed, was adopted.  In any case, no club was awarded the premiership for 1934.

Looking back from 1936, (the previous year) did not stop the Narandera Imperials. Early in that year they did not seek affiliation with the S.W.D.F.L. saying “it was very dissatisfied with the South-western District Football League and were looking for new pastures.”  The club then affiliated two senior teams, Imperials East and Imperials West in the Leeton D.F.A. (which at that stage was comprised of five clubs: Fivebough, Stanbridge, Corbie Hill, Whitton and Yanco).

In 1935, their two teams joined Griffith, Leeton, Whitton and Fivebough to make a six team Leeton D.F.A. competition.  The other clubs mentioned did not appear to continue their participation.

Neither of the Imperial teams made the grand final that year which was won by Leeton defeating Fivebough.  It is interesting to note though, that the competition also catered for a reserve grade, in which Narandera field one team.  They defeated Leeton in the grand final 8-6 (54) to 7-6 (48).

At the end of the 1935 season, S.W.D.F.L. premiers, Ganmain, played a match against the combined Narandera Imperials Club with Ganmain winning 10-18 (78) to 8-14 (62).

Ref. – Narrandera Argus – 1934-5-6

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