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History of the Hawks

(Wamoon- early 30's > 1969. Yanco-Wamoon 1970>today)

The foundation club, the original Wamoon R.L.F.C. was formed in the early 1930's, by the sons of the original settlers of the M.I.A (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) and farm and cannery workers who arrived at Wamoon ( a small village near Leeton) when the rice and fruit industries were at their fledgling stage.

1947 saw Wamoon (known as the "village") win it's first flag taking out the Group 17 flag under "Smacker" Garner. The Reserve grade took out the premiership in 1950.

Coaches to follow into the 50's included Dutchie Stokes, Snow Elliott, Roy Bunt, Kelvin O'Connell and Kevin Wallace. Throughout the 50's coaches included 1953  Jack McLean, a winger from North Sydney  1954-55  Jack Hartwell, a centre from Canterbury -Bankstown who took them to the grand final in '54 only to be beaten by Griffith and to the semis in '55. 1956 saw Reg Stanford return from the Rochdale Hornets in England to lead the 'village' to be the inaugural Group 20 knockout winners and again make the finals.

 

Pages from the 1954 Group 20 Program

 

 Re-Union celebrations for the 1954 Premiership side.  Back (from left)- Jimbo Watson, Neville Hone, Pat Holt, Lindsay "Boong" Williams, Bill Watson, Bruce Barker, Merv Meaker, Fred Williams ( Boong's dad)  Front - Ossie Reberger, Jack Hartwell ( Captain-Coach '54-'55), Kelly Holt, Alf Myers, John O'Connell.

 

1956 Wamoon side ( Semi finalists Group 20 & Inaugural Group 20 knockout winners). Back (from Left)  Len Power, Lindsay Williams, Gub Dempsey, Brian Wakeham, Jimbo Watson, Neville Hone, Barry Saxby, Roy Hobson, Ken Hulands.   Front  Phil Reberger, Charlie Wheatley, Brian Medcalf, Bruce Barker, Reg Stanford ( Captain-Coach), Ossie Reberger, Glen Hulands, John Reberger.      Ballboy-  Des Hollis   Inset- Bill Watson
 

1957 Ron Stanford, Reg's brother, took over as coach but broke down and was replaced by Brian Wakeham who again coached in 1958. 1959 saw another Sydney coach in Jack Fifield from St.George.

As there were no licensed clubs and entertainment after the games during the 50's and old army hut was put on the training ground at Wamoon replacing the old tin shed that they had to chase cows out of to get changed. The "Hut" was very popular with parties being held on the Sunday nights after games and other clubs calling in on the way through. Apparently the Wagga Kangaroos used to bring a five piece orchestra with them. The "Hut" was burnt to the ground in 1964.

Wamoon shifted from Wamoon Oval opting to play at Leeton No.1 Oval, then the Leeton Showground and then the Racecourse.

The 60's saw the emergence of Wagga Leagues Club and Griffith Leagues Club. With them came more money for the associated clubs meaning bigger name players and payments for club footballers. International and State players were common at Wagga which made victories hard to come by for Wamoon. Internationals like Arthur Summons, Greg Hawick, Ron Crowe, Brian Hambly, Brian 'poppa' Clay, Ross Kite, George Menzies, Jack Butterfield, George Smith, Fred Griffiths and as well as Wamoon's Bill Sorenson and also State players Johnny Kelly, Doug Cameron, Bob Honeysett, Bob Smith and Kevin Brown. During this time Wamoon won only one premiership, the 1961 Reserve grade coached by Ossie Reberger.

 

 1961 Wamoon Reserve Grade Premiership Team ( Defeated Griffith 26-10). Back (from left)- Martin Conroy, John Reberger, Bill Barnhill, Barry Hopley, Neville Hone, Bruce Reberger, Keith Seargent.    Front- John McIntyre, Ossie Reberger(captain-coach), Bill ( "Pongo") Myers, Brian Roberts, Leo Plant, David ( "Pud") Taylor
 

The coaches through the 60's were 1960- Les Dowton, the assistant Station Master at Leeton.  1961- Mick Evans from Canterbury-Bankstown.  1962- Bill Watson, a local who finished up one of the best footballers and coaches ever to come from the 'village'. 1963-64- Jack Fitzpatrick from Newcastle. 1965-66-  Bill Sorenson, an International centre from New Zealand who took them to the semis in '66.  1967- Phil Reberger, another local and father of current player Scott.  1968- Frank Halliwell from England.  1969- Under Ian Sills coaching the 'village' challenged for the Maher Cup. After being beaten by Gundagai they challenged and won the cup from Wagga Kangaroos. With successful defences against Gundagai, Junee and Cootamundra they then lost it when Group 9 changed the rules and declared that Wamoon wasn't eligible to play for it !!!

As the population of Leeton grew most of the Wamoon players were living in Leeton and it was decided to train as well as play at the Yanco Sportsground. With this and the folding of the Yanco Penguins Aussie Rules side this was the finish of Wamoon as such and the club combined with Yanco to become Yanco-Wamoon in 1970.

In 1970, the first season, the club had limited success but celebrated a victory over arch rivals Leeton. The First grade captain/coach for the debut year was David Barnhill, who later went on to become the president of the CRL. Reserve grade captain/coach was Arthur' Hooky' Watts and the juniors coach Martin Conroy. Ron Briggs became the first club president. Des Hollis topped the point scoring and Graham Bollington became the first Best & Fairest winner.

1971 saw Gil McDougall  (father of Adam, etc) signed as captain/coach but was released due to business commitments back in Sydney. He was replaced by local Fred Robertson. It was another disappointing year ladder wise and the Best & Fairest was another Wamoon stalwart in Des Hollis.

In 1972 Bill Watson took over as captain/coach and Des Hollis again took out the Best & Fairest award.

1973 saw the first premiership for the new combined club under the captain/coaching of big Bill Watson. Ricky Higgins was the group leading try scorer with team mate Col Makeham 2nd. Best & Fairest went to Newcastle import Bob Adamson who moved to the area for work. He also played for NSW country that year.

The 1st Yanco-Wamoon Premiers, the 1973 First Grade (defeated Lakes United 18-11): Back from Left: Charlie Brown (secretary), Bill Hollis (selector), Fred Robertson, Garry Davidson, Geoff Woods, Neville "Darky" Wornes, Ricky Higgins, Bob Smith, Keith Plant, Bill Barnhill (president), Bill Myers (selector)    Front: Alan Briggs, (assistant strapper), Nicky Bamblett, Bill Alberty, Kevin Hollis, Bill Watson (captain-coach), Bob Adamson, Col Makeham, Des Hollis, Frank O'Connell (strapper).

 

1974 saw the premiers syndrome take effect and again being led by Bill Watson they finished near the bottom of the ladder. Des Hollis picked up his 3rd Best & Fairest award in 5 years

1975 saw the arrival from northern NSW of John Gahan who had represented Western Division and North Coast. He turned out to be one of the best forwards to play for Yanco-Wamoon and also represented Riverina during his stint at the club. He took the side to the Grand final only to be beaten by Griffith. Best & Fairest went to Jeff Moon and up and coming hooker Tony Morgan played for NSW country 18's while still playing 16's.

1976 had John Gahan at the helm again in what was the 1st season that the club had 4 grades playing with the 16's making the semis for the 1st time also. It also saw the arrival of Dick Timbs who had been shifted to the area in his job as a policeman which was a major boost for the club. Graham Hatch took out the Group leading points scorer while Jeff Moon took out the Best & Fairest for the 2nd year running.

 

1975 Grand Finalists (defeated by Griffith 22-7);   Back from Left: Fred Robertson, Mark Scrider, Jeff Moon, Graham Hatch, Kevin Hollis, Trevor Rainbow, Mike Phillips, Ricky Higgins, Chris Fields, Barry Kelly.  Front: Gary Davidson, Kevin Hollis, Mark Miller, Bill Alberty, Graham Bollington, Peter Eurell, John Gahan (captain-coach)

 

Wayne Melville, recruited from Wentworthville in Sydney 2nd Division took over as captain/coach in 1977. Although making the semis they were bundled out in the preliminary final against eventual premiers Griffith Waratahs. Dick Timbs won the Best & Fairest and it was the year that saw emerging juniors Tony Morgan and Kerry Hemsley cement spots in the 1st grade team.

1978 saw Dick Timbs take over the captain/coach role and took the side to the final only to be beaten by Leeton. New Yanco Hotel publican and former Balmain tiger Keith Outten turned out for the club and won the joint Group 20 Player of the year award. Jeff Moon again took out the Best & Fairest and Noel "Harry" Hogan and Tony Morgan both played for NSW country.

With the opening of the new dressing sheds, a new guernsey, and also the new Hawks logo and with Bill Watson at the helm once again, the Hawks took out the 1979 premiership stopping Griffith Waratahs attempt to win 4 in a row. Captain Keith Outten took out the Best & Fairest award. It was also the 1st year at the club for Ross Norton and Shane Ludeke and also saw prop Kerry Hemsley heading off to Balmain for 1980.

                          

1979 Premiers (defeated Griffith Waratahs 19-14):  Back from Left: Pat Hulme (treasurer), Peter Reberger, Tom Harrison, Terry Coelli, Kerry Hemsley, Noel Hogan, Alan "thruthful" Smith (strapper).  Middle: Arthur "Hooky" Watts (President), Gary Neville, Jeff Moon, Keith Outten (captain), Ken Menser, Kerry Hardie ( Secretary), Front: Wayne Ramponi (manager), Ross Norton, Doug Johnson, Shane Ludeke, Mark Scrider.  Absent: Glen Morris, Bill Alberty, Steve Preston, John Barnhill, Bill Watson (coach),

1980 saw the Hawks again coached by Bill Watson but this time led by Shane Ludeke make the Grand Final for the 2nd year in a row only to be beaten by Darlington Point 16-15 after a penalty was given a couple of minutes from fulltime right in front to give the point side victory. Ross Norton represented NSW Country and winger Ken Menser was 2nd in the Group 20 points scorers.

1981 again saw Bill Watson coach and Shane Ludeke captain in what the start of a lean patch for the Hawks failing to make the playoffs. Noel "Harry" Hogan took out the Best & Fairest award.

1982 had Shane Ludeke take over the coaching job and in what a good year for him personally, making the NSW Country side, the Hawks missed a spot in the finals by 1 point.

Pat Hart took over as Captain/coach in 1983 and with a mass exodus of players from the '82 side most of the reserve graders had to step up and the side finished on the bottom of the table. It was the 1st year at the club for Bob Sheridan and Gary Neville. Tony Morgan made the NSW Country side while Pat Hart took out the Best & Fairest. There was no 18s side for the year.

Bob Sheridan took over the Captain/coaching in 1984 and he was joined at the club by his brother Greg. The side made the finals for the 1st time in a few years. Tony Morgan again made the NSW Country side and Bob Sheridan was joint Group 20 player of the year. The club again failed to field an 18s side.

In 1985 the Hawks lost Tony Morgan to the Leeton Greens. Bob Sheridan again coached and took the side to the semis. An under 18s side was fielded and saw Matt Sheldrick step up to 1st grade from their side. The 16's were runners-up under the coaching of "Hooky" Watts.

Chris George took over in 1986 as Captain/coach and the side also included ex Sydney player Eric Ferguson. The side had a disappointing year having only 2 wins. Pat Hart again claimed the Best & Fairest award.

With Chris George again coaching in 1987 the Hawks finished on the bottom of the table. It was otherwise a successful year for the rest of the club with all 3 minor grades making the finals. The James Sullivan coached 16s capped off a good year taking out their 1st ever Premiership. Jason "Jughead" Boots was the skipper.

1988 saw Gary Neville take over as Captain/coach. The team finished minor premiers but were bundled out in 2 finals. Bob Sheridan won the Best & Fairest and Eric Ferguson took out the group 20 leading goal kicker and point scorer. Reserve Grade under Captain/coach Roy Bandy appeared in their 1st Grand Final but went down to Lakes 17-4. The 16s were minor premiers but could only finish runners-up.

Roy Bandy took over as Captain/coach in 1989 and his side just missed out on the finals losing a playoff. New players Glen Merritt and brother Lee took out the Best & Fairest and Group 20 leading try scorer respectively. Eric Ferguson again took out the leading Group 20 goal scorer. Darren Tuckett also had a good year playing for NSW Country. The minor grades saw the David Shelton led reserves win their 1st flag for 27 years. After being down 1-0 !!! at 1/2 time they ran out winners against West Wyalong 18-7. The 18's also won their 1st flag and the 16's were runners-up for the 2nd year in a row. These results saw Yanco-Wamoon take out their 1st club championship.

 

1st Yanco-Wamoon Reserve Grade Premiers 1989 (defeated West Wyalong 18-7): Back from left: Garry Currey, Paul Turner, Peter Grundy, Kerry Davy, Alan Smith, Darren Tuckett, Leon Ingram, Fred Ciccia.   Middle : Bob Boots (strapper), Tony Stewart, Ross Cantrill, Mark Pete, Wayne Jones, Barry Emerson, Rod Emerson, Roy Bandy, Ian Shelton (manager)  Front: Allan Stott (sponsor), Chris Ernst, Barry Pickens, Greg Currey, David Shelton (captain-coach), Ian Wheatley, David Killen, Mark Grundy, Dave Sheldrick (president).

1990 had local junior John Barnhill as Captain/coach. Wayne Everett was recruited from Illawarra and Greg Sheridan returned after a stint in France. The Hawks again missed the semis but the junior sides produced the goods with both the 18s and 16s premiers. Glen Schmetzer and Jason Boots were named joint Group 20 rookies of the year.

Wayne Everett took over as Captain/coach for 1991 and despite the side winning the wooden spoon he took out the joint Group 20 Player of the year. Chris Sheldrick represented the Australian schoolboys on their tour of Great Britain. The 18s were runners-up for the year.

1992 had Wayne Everett again at the helm but the side was bolstered by the signings of Roger Kenworthy and Alex Corvo from the Canberra Raiders, Steve Newman and Craig Boothby from Menindee, Brian O'Connell from Narrandera, Paul Frazer from Barellan and 1979 premiership player Kerry Hemsley from Blayney. These signings payed off with the side winning the Group 20 Knockout, being Minor Premiers and then taking out the Hawks 1st flag for 13 years. Craig Higgins took out the club Best & Fairest and Roger Kenworthy the group's leading try scorer. The 18s were runners-up for the 2nd year in a row.

                

1992 First Grade Premiers (defeated Griffith 18-17):   Back from Left: Craig Higgins, Brendan DePaoli, Stuart Heffer, Craig Boothby, Matt O'Connell, Chris Sheldrick. Middle Row: Paul Frazer, Steve Newman, Stuart Heffer, Kerry Hemsley, Brian O'Connell, Barry Emerson, Eric Ingram. Front: Alex Corvo, Roger Kenworthy, Wayne Everett (captain/coach), Glen Schmetzer, Andrew Reynolds, Bill Ingram.

Wayne Everett lined up for his 3rd year as Captain/coach in 1993 and although losing Kerry Hemsley to Sydney and Chris Sheldrick (early retirement due to a neck injury suffered in the '92 Grand Final) signed some very useful players in former local junior Phil Looby from Black & Whites, David Sharp from Canberra and duel Fijian international Pio Kubawai to start a long association with the Hawks and Fiji. After a spate of injuries throughout the season the Hawks won their 2nd Grand Final in a row in what coach Everett said was his most enjoyable victory. Phil Looby took out the clubs Best & Fairest while juniors Brett Robertson (NSW State Schoolboys) and Brendan Reeves (Australian schoolboys tour of Great Britain, and receiving a man of the match award) started off their rep careers.

 

                   

1993 First Grade Premiers (defeated Griffith Waratahs 14-10):  Back from Left: Pio Kubawai, Brian O'Connell, Roger Kenworthy, David Sharpe, James Mason, Eric Ingram, Phil Looby  Front: Andrew Reynolds, Stuart Heffer, Paul Frazer, Wayne Everett (captain-coach), Glen Schmetzer, Roger Wilson  Absent: Jason Barnes, Warwick Neyland.

With Wayne Everett stepping down from the coaching duties in 1994 former Manly lower grader John Gutherson was signed as Captain/coach. Pio Kubawai was joined by fellow Fijian countrymen in Seli Radila and Nuimaia "Horse" Korovata. The Hawks took out their 3rd title in a row equalling Griffith Waratahs feat in the 70's. Hooker Darren Tuckett took out the Joint Group 20 Player of the year award and also the Groups leading try scorer. Wayne Everett won the club Best & Fairest and what was a great year for the club the 18s and 16s (undefeated) also won their titles.

             

1994 First grade Premiers (defeated Griffith Waratahs 32-10):  Back from left: Niumaia Korovata, Brian O'Connell, John Gutherson (captain-coach), Stuart Heffer, Andrew Eglinton, Seli Radila, Barry Emerson, Matt Knagge (manager)  Front: Andrew Reynolds, Craig Higgins, Wayne Everett, Glen Schmetzer, Eric Ingram, Darren Tuckett, Pio Kubawai.  Absent: Phil Looby, James Mason, Mark King, Phil Puntoriero,

 

With John Gutherson returning home to the coast the Hawks signed Ken Kerr, who was having a playing stint in England, as Captain/coach for 1995. Kerr bought with him Englishman Roy Jewitt. Another Fijian Manasa Danaka and Paul Strutt from Temora in Group 9 were also signed. The Hawks surpassed Griffith Waratahs taking out 4 in a row titles. Paul Strutt took out the Best & Fairest in his 1st year with the club and representative honours went to Ken Kerr( Riverina, NSW Country and NSW Residents), Horse Korovata ( NSW Country 7s, Fiji World Cup), and Pio Kubawai (Fiji World Cup). The 18s were premiers again with the 16s runners-up. The Hawks won the Club Championship for only the 2nd time.

                  

1995 First grade Premiers (defeated Griffith Waratahs 28-16):  Back from left: Brendan Steele, Darren Tuckett, Craig Higgins, Wayne Everett, Eric Ingram.  Middle: Matt Knagge (manager), Rocci DiSalvatore(Secretary), Paul Strutt, Nuimaia Korovata, Brian O'Connell, Roy Jewitt, Andrew Eglinton, Manasa Danaka, Steve Preston (manager).  Front: Neville Wornes (president), Seli Radila, Glen Schmetzer, Ken Kerr (captain-coach), Brett Robertson, Pio Kubawai, Dave Sheldrick (selector)

With the departure of Ken Kerr back to England Wayne Everett took over for another stint as Captain/coach in 1996. Other losses were Roy Jewitt, Manasa Danaka, Brendan Steele and junior Brett Robertson (to Canterbury-Bankstown). New signings included Kiwi Vii Mulipola, Paul Wiscombe (from Wagga), Kerry Hemsley (again) and Phil Looby (again). The Hawks took out their 5th in a row with a conversion on fulltime from hooker John Jones giving them a 1 point victory. Junior Lee Grant was the only major rep for the year playing NSW Country 17s.

                          

1996 First grade Premiers (5 in a row !!!!) (defeated Narrandera 21-20)  Back from left: Johnny Kefford (strapper), Kerry Hemsley, Paul Looby, Andrew Meurant, Paul Strutt, Phil Looby, Vii Mulipola, Meika Felise, Kane Eyles, Craig Higgins, Eric Ingram, Stuart Heffer,  Front: Darren Tuckett, Glen Schmetzer, Wayne Everett (captain-coach), Andrew Eglinton, Ryan Thompson.  Absent: Sekata Sorovata, Paul Wiscombe, Nuimaia Korovata, John Jones

 

(to be continued)

 

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