Ovens & Murray Football League

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Ovens & Murray Football League

Ovens & Murray football league logo.JPG

General Information
Founded 1893
Current clubs Albury
Corowa Rutherglen
Lavington
Myrtleford
North Albury
Wangaratta
Wangaratta Rovers
Wodonga
Wodonga Raiders
Yarrawonga
2013 Season
Premiers Yarrawonga
Minor Premiers Albury
(17 wins, 1 loss)
Wooden Spoon Wodonga Raiders
(3 wins, 15 losses)

The Ovens and Murray Football Netball League (O&MFNL) is an Australian rules football and netball competition containing ten clubs based in north-eastern Victoria and the southern Riverina region of New South Wales. The league features three grades in the Australian rules football competition, with these being First-Grade, Reserve-Grade and Under 18s. In the netball competition, there are four grades, with these being A-Grade, B-Grade, C-Grade and Under 16s.

Currently a home and away season consisting of eighteen rounds is played. The best five teams then play off according to the McIntyre System, culminating in the O&MFNL Grand Final, which is traditionally held at Lavington Sports Ground in Albury.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Organised competition in the area started as the Ovens & Murray Football Association in 1893, although it was interrupted in 1911 when Albury was excluded, with the competition renamed Rutherglen DFA for that season. Albury was readmitted in 1912 and after some club shuffling with The Chiltern & District FA, the competition reformed under the Ovens & Murray Football Association banner again in 1914.

After a three-year break due to World War I, the association reformed for the 1919 season with four clubs, Border United, Howlong, Lakes and Rutherglen. In 1920 the league didn't reform; the clubs moved to the Chiltern DFL.

The competition reformed in 1921 with Lakes Rovers, Rutherglen, St Patricks, Corowa, Springhurst and Wahgunyah. In 1922, larger town clubs Benalla and Wangaratta joined the OMFA whilst Wahgunyah and Springhurst moved to the Chiltern DFL. In 1926, the name was changed to its present form. Around this time the clubs contesting the league included Wangaratta, Hume Weir (which drew many of its players from workers constructing the Hume Dam at the time), Yarrawonga and two clubs from the town of Albury, St Patricks and Albury (not to be confused with the present Albury club). These two clubs were largely divided amongst sectarian lines, St Patricks being Roman Catholic and Albury being Protestant and, after much tension, in 1929 the two clubs agreed to disband and form two new clubs, East Albury and West Albury, with the player base to be drawn geographically.

In 1930, Haydn Bunton was recruited from the league by Victoria Football League (VFL) club Fitzroy, where he became regarded as one of the best VFL players in the Depression era and would go on to win three Brownlow Medals. Bunton Park, where North Albury Football Club is based, was not named after Haydn, but rather his brother Cleaver Bunton, who was elected president of the O&MFL in 1930 and would serve in that role until 1969. (Cleaver would also later serve as mayor of Albury for 30 years.)

Post-World War Two[edit]

In 1940, the league went into recess for the duration of World War II, before full competition resumed in 1946. In 1947 North Albury was admitted, followed by Wangaratta Rovers and Myrtleford, who were admitted from the Ovens & King Football League in 1950. The Wangaratta Rovers would go on to dominate the O&M for the remainder of the 20th Century, winning fifteen premierships to date, a number only recently overhauled by Albury with their own streak of flags.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the league began to gain a reputation within Victoria as being the strongest competition outside the then VFL and VFA. The best players were often recruited from the O&M to play for one of the "city" clubs, but it was not uncommon for a VFL player to retire from the "big" league and play in the O&M or another country league, and perhaps start a coaching career there as well, often at the same time as a playing coach. One notable example of this, as far as the O&M was concerned, was Bob Rose, who retired from Collingwood as a player in 1955 and coached the Wangaratta Rovers to two premierships in 1958 and 1960, after which he returned to Collingwood to continue his coaching career.

1970s and 1980s[edit]

In 1968, the VFL introduced country recruitment zones throughout Victoria and Riverina, which limited the areas from which each VFL club could recruit. The O&MFL was allocated to North Melbourne, and thus quite a few of the better players from the O&M came to play for the Kangaroos, contributing in part to that club's rise to success in the 1970s. These included Xavier Tanner and John Longmire, who had won the O&M seniors leading goalkicker in a season in the 1980s with Corowa-Rutherglen before his move. The zoning system was discontinued in the late 1980s as the VFL/AFL introduced a draft system.

In 1974 the O&MFL was disaffiliated by the Victorian Country Football League (VCFL) when the O&MFL refused to accept an application from the Lavington Football Club to join the league. By this stage the football club was based at the Lavington Sports Club, an established licensed club, and was strong enough to field teams in both the Tallangatta League and Hume Football League the following year.

The makeup of the competition remained stable until 1979, when Corowa and Rutherglen merged into Corowa-Rutherglen, and the Lavington Football Club was finally admitted from the Farrer Football League, so the number of clubs remained at ten.

Lavington's home ground, the Lavington Sports Club Oval, provided an ideal venue for many sports as the sports club gradually developed it after its construction in the 1970s. The league has designated it as the venue for most of the league's grand finals since the 1980s. Recently, added assistance for the staging of the grand final through regional promotion and in-kind sponsorship has been provided by the Albury City Council.

In 1983, after an unsuccessful debut season playing for Hawthorn the previous year, Gary Ablett played for Myrtleford in the O&M for a year, before he was recruited by Geelong where he recommenced his career in the VFL/AFL and established himself as one of the code's best players, being inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

By the late 1980s, the Wodonga Demons of the Tallangatta League had made a number of bids to join the O&M, and in 1989 were accepted into the competition to serve the west of the city of Wodonga, based at Birralee Park. They changed their name to the Wodonga Raiders Football Club so as to not cause confusion with the Benalla Demons and the long established Wodonga Football Club.

Recent years[edit]

In 1996, after a string of unsuccessful seasons in the O&M, Benalla moved to the Goulburn Valley Football League. In 2000 the Penrith Panthers Leagues Club, financiers of the Penrith Panthers National Rugby League team, merged with the Lavington Sports Club. As a result, the Lavington Football Club changed their nickname from the Blues to the Panthers, added "Panthers" to their title, and adopted a guernsey in the same colours as the NRL Panthers, but in the Port Adelaide AFL pattern.

Also around this time, the Wagga Tigers Football Club, which had dominated the Riverina Football League, made a bid to join the O&MFL; however, partially due to concerns from the league's southern clubs about travel times, the bid was rejected. The Wagga Tigers then successfully bid to join the AFL Canberra.

In 2000 the O&MFL, in an association with the AFL North Melbourne Football Club, fielded a team in the Victorian Football League called the Murray Kangaroos, playing home games between Coburg and Lavington. However, due to concerns from O&M clubs about player availability, the Kangaroos about travel time, and poor attendances compared with O&M league games, the venture was discontinued after three seasons and the Kangaroos subsequently set up an affiliation with the established VFL club Port Melbourne.

Junior Development[edit]

More successful has been the Murray Bushrangers TAC Cup Under 18s side, who play their home games in Wangaratta; prior to the AFL national draft and the inception of the TAC Cup, young players in the area would usually play through the grades with their local club, with less likelihood of being scouted by the recruitment staff from AFL clubs. Although there has been some concern from clubs about these players being removed from the local competition, the ones that do not get drafted usually return to their home clubs to play locally once they come of age.

Even in that case, there is some chance that a late-maturing "older" player in their early 20s will be drafted by an AFL club. Several notable examples to be drafted directly from the O&MFL include Fraser Gehrig (Wodonga Raiders/West Coast Eagles/St Kilda), Guy Rigoni (Myrtleford/Melbourne), and Brett Kirk (North Albury/Sydney Swans).

Currently, all clubs field sides in the under 18s competition, aside from Myrtleford, which fields a joint team with the Bright Football Club as the Alpine Eagles.

Current clubs[edit]

Club Nickname Jumper Joined Location No. of Premierships Premiership Years Official Website
Albury Tigers 1896 Albury, New South Wales 18 1902, 1908, 1913, 1928, 1937, 1939–40, 1947, 1956, 1966, 1982, 1985, 1995-96-97, 2009-10-11 official site
Corowa Rutherglen Kangaroos 1979 Corowa, New South Wales 2 2000, 2003 official site
Lavington Panthers 1979 Albury, New South Wales 4 1983, 1986, 2001, 2005 official site
Myrtleford Saints
St Kilda FC Cross Jumper.png
1950 Myrtleford, Victoria 1 1970 official site
North Albury Hoppers 1947 Albury, New South Wales 6 1948, 1955, 1980, 1984, 1999, 2002 official site
Wangaratta Magpies Port Adelaide Magpies Jumper.svg 1893 Wangaratta, Victoria 14 1925, 1933, 1936, 1938, 1946, 1949-50-51-52, 1957, 1961, 1976, 2007-08 official site
Wangaratta Rovers Rovers; Hawks 1950 Wangaratta, Victoria 15 1958, 1960, 1964–65, 1971–72, 1974–75, 1977-78-79, 1988, 1991, 1993-94 official site
Wodonga Bulldogs 1939 Wodonga, Victoria 7 1967, 1969, 1981, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2004 official site
Wodonga Raiders Raiders 1989 Wodonga, Victoria 1 1998 official site
Yarrawonga Pigeons 1929 Yarrawonga, Victoria 5 1959, 1989, 2006, 2012-13 official site

Premiership table[edit]

Premierships Football
CLUB SENIORS RESERVES UNDER 18s/19s TOTAL
Albury (born 1896) 18 5 1 24
Balldale (1909–1913) 0 0 0 0
Barnawartha (1911–1919) 0 0 0 0
Beechworth (1893–1915) 3 0 0 3
Benalla (1946–1996) 4 3 2 9
Border United (1895–1947) 1 0 0 1
Chiltern (1893–1911) 0 0 0 0
Corowa (1898–1978) 2 1 0 3
Corowa-Rutherglen (born 1979) 2 2 3 7
East Albury (1929–1950) 0 0 0 0
Eldoraldo (1893) 0 0 0 0
Excelsior (1896–1910) 1 0 0 1
Howlong (1911–1914) 1 0 0 0
Hume Weir (1924–1925) 0 0 0 0
Lake Rovers (1903–1919) 3 0 0 3
Lavington (born 1979) 4 1 2 7
Lilliput (1894) 0 0 0 0
Myrtleford (born 1950) 1 2 1 4
North Albury (born 1947) 6 2 0 8
Rutherglen (1893–1978) 15 0 0 15
Southern (1898–1907) 0 0 0 0
Springhurst (1921) 0 0 0 0
St. Patrick's (1921–1934) 6 0 0 6
United Miners (1894–1895) 0 0 0 0
Wahgunyah (1908 + 1921) 0 0 0 0
Wangaratta (born 1893) 14 4 5 23
Wangaratta Rovers (born 1950) 15 8 10 33
Wangaratta West End (1893) 0 0 0 0
Weir United (1930–1931) 2 0 0 2
West Albury (1929–1932) 1 0 0 1
Wodonga (born 1939) 7 19 13 39
Wodonga Raiders (born 1989) 1 5 3 9
Yarrawonga (born 1929) 5 7 0 11

NOTES:
1893-1910: Ovens & Murray Football Association
1911-1913: Rutherglen & District Football Association
1914-1915: Ovens & Murray Football Association
1916-1918: Recess - World War I
1919-1925: Ovens & Murray Football Association
1926-1940: Ovens And Murray Football League
1941-1945: Recess - World War II
1946-2009: Ovens And Murray Football League

Most Premierships/CLUB/PREMIERSHIP YEARS

18/Albury/1902, 1908, 1913, 1928, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1947, 1956, 1966, 1982, 1985, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010, 2011

15/Rutherglen/1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1935, 1954

15/Wangaratta Rovers/1958, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994

14/Wangaratta/1925, 1933, 1936, 1938, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1957, 1961, 1976, 2007, 2008

7/Wodonga/1967, 1969, 1981, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2004

6/St Patrick's/1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927

6/North Albury/1948, 1955, 1980, 1984, 1999, 2002

5/Yarrawonga/1959, 1989, 2006, 2012, 2013

4/Benalla/1953, 1962, 1963, 1973 (Left O&M and joined GVFL in 1998)

4/Lavington/1983, 1986, 2001, 2005

3/Lake Rovers/1905, 1906, 1919

2/Weir United/1930, 1931

2/Corowa/1932, 1968

2/Corowa-Rutherglen/2000, 2003 (merged 1979)

1/Howlong 1911

1/West Albury/1929

1/Border United/1934

1/Myrtleford/1970

1/Wodonga Raiders/1998

Interleague competition[edit]

The O&M has won the first division of the Victorian Country Football League interleague championship fourteen times, the most recent victory being in 2006. In interleague competition the team wears a gold guernsey, emblazoned with a modern-style black and gold "O&M" logo, and black shorts.

Morris Medal[edit]

The Morris Medal is given for the best and fairest player in the O&MFL during the home and away season, similar to the AFL's Brownlow Medal. In the week preceding the grand final, a vote count is held to decide the recipient of the award. The player who has won the most Morris Medals is Robbie Walker, who won five whilst playing for the Wangaratta Rovers, followed by Jim Sandral (Corowa) and John Brunner (Yarrawonga) with three apiece. The list of Morris Medallists follows:

The 1990 Bloodbath Grand Final[edit]

Shortly after the commencement of the 1990 grand final between Wodonga and Lavington, played at the Albury Sportsground, most of the players of the two teams became involved in a bench-clearing brawl. As the game was televised by a local TV station, the footage received sensationalistic national media coverage where the brawl was generally described as a shocking indictment on the code. Even though over a decade had elapsed, comparisons to this incident were made after the 2004 AFL Cairns Grand Final descended into a similar fracas. [1]

Wodonga eventually won the match by 20 points and thus the premiership, and the league tribunal handed out a number of lengthy suspensions to players from both sides for the following season. Incidentally, the result marked the second premiership for Wodonga's coach of that time, Jeff Gieschen, his first for the club being in 1987, before he went on to coach West Perth and then an ill-fated stint at Richmond in 1997-1999.

2007 Ladder[edit]

Ovens & Murray FL Wins Byes Losses Draws For Against % Pts
Wangaratta 14 0 4 0 1945 1306 148.93% 56
Yarrawonga 14 0 4 0 1809 1215 148.89% 56
North Albury 12 0 6 0 1887 1485 127.07% 48
Wodonga 11 0 7 0 1599 1263 126.60% 44
Wang Rovers 11 0 7 0 1682 1376 122.24% 44
Albury 10 0 8 0 1704 1611 105.77% 40
Lavington 6 0 12 0 1558 1736 89.75% 24
Wodonga Raiders 6 0 12 0 1361 2103 64.72% 24
Corowa-Rutherglen 3 0 15 0 1434 1871 76.64% 12
Myrtleford 3 0 15 0 1247 2260 55.18% 12

FINALS

Final Team G B Pts Team G B Pts
Elimination Wodonga 13 11 89 Wangaratta Rovers 11 12 78
Qualifying North Albury 15 14 104 Yarrawonga 8 11 59
1st Semi Wodonga 16 12 108 Yarrawonga 11 13 79
2nd Semi North Albury 12 10 82 Wangaratta 11 6 72
Preliminary Wangaratta 15 15 105 Wodonga 10 11 71
Grand Wangaratta 15 10 100 North Albury 6 13 49

2008 Ladder[edit]

Ovens & Murray FL Wins Byes Losses Draws For Against % Pts
Wangaratta 15 0 2 1 2149 1236 173.87% 62
Corowa-Rutherglen 13 0 5 0 1769 1390 127.27% 52
Lavington 12 0 6 0 1842 1373 134.16% 48
Wodonga 12 0 6 0 1646 1388 118.59% 48
Yarrawonga 10 0 8 0 1905 1572 121.18% 40
Albury 9 0 8 1 1652 1532 107.83% 38
Wang Rovers 8 0 10 0 1679 1441 116.52% 32
North Albury 8 0 10 0 1779 1665 106.85% 32
Wodonga Raiders 2 0 16 0 1080 2264 47.70% 8
Myrtleford 0 0 18 0 813 2453 33.14% 0

FINALS

Final Team G B Pts Team G B Pts
Elimination Wodonga 11 10 76 Yarrawonga 9 12 66
Qualifying Corowa-Rutherglen 11 15 81 Lavington 13 10 88
1st Semi Wodonga 18 8 116 Corowa-Rutherglen 10 8 68
2nd Semi Wangaratta 10 12 72 Lavington 8 8 56
Preliminary Lavington 12 18 90 Wodonga 13 9 87
Grand Wangaratta 12 14 86 Lavington 7 12 54

2009 Ladder[edit]

Ovens & Murray FL Wins Byes Losses Draws For Against % Pts
Albury 18 0 0 0 2383 1295 184.02% 72
Yarrawonga 15 0 3 0 2029 1300 156.08% 60
Wodonga 11 0 7 0 1851 1284 144.16% 44
Wangaratta 10 0 8 0 1898 1380 137.54% 40
Corowa-Rutherglen 9 0 9 0 1751 1480 118.31% 36
Lavington 9 0 9 0 1488 1592 93.47% 36
North Albury 8 0 10 0 1548 1612 96.03% 32
Wodonga Raiders 5 0 13 0 1480 1640 90.24% 20
Wang Rovers 5 0 13 0 1366 1545 88.41% 20
Myrtleford 0 0 18 0 569 3235 17.59% 0

FINALS

Final Team G B Pts Team G B Pts
Elimination Wangaratta 17 18 120 Corowa-Rutherglen 6 13 49
Qualifying Yarrawonga 17 11 113 Wodonga 15 8 98
1st Semi Wodonga 15 11 101 Wangaratta 13 17 95
2nd Semi Albury 18 16 124 Yarrawonga 10 9 69
Preliminary Yarrawonga 15 10 100 Wodonga 6 11 47
Grand Albury 22 13 145 Yarrawonga 9 14 68

2010 Ladder[edit]

Ovens & Murray FL Wins Byes Losses Draws For Against % Pts
Albury 17 0 1 0 2343 1143 204.99% 68
Yarrawonga 16 0 2 0 1870 1140 164.04% 64
North Albury 12 0 6 0 1728 1333 129.63% 48
Wodonga Raiders 12 0 6 0 1588 1314 120.85% 48
Wangaratta Rovers 9 0 9 0 1462 1378 106.10% 36
Wangaratta 9 0 9 0 1523 1503 101.33% 36
Wodonga 7 0 11 0 1441 1522 94.68% 28
Lavington 6 0 12 0 1419 1570 90.38% 24
Corowa-Rutherglen 2 0 16 0 1148 1935 59.33% 8
Myrtleford 0 0 18 0 746 2430 30.70% 0

FINALS

Final Team G B Pts Team G B Pts
Elimination Wodonga Raiders 13 15 93 Wangaratta Rovers 9 15 69
Qualifying Yarrawonga 20 12 132 North Albury 3 9 27
1st Semi North Albury 17 7 109 Wodonga Raiders 9 9 63
2nd Semi Albury 3 11 29 Yarrawonga 2 6 18
Preliminary Yarrawonga 15 16 106 North Albury 9 11 65
Grand Albury 13 11 89 Yarrawonga 11 13 79

2011 Ladder[edit]

Ovens & Murray FL Wins Byes Losses Draws For Against % Pts
Albury 16 0 2 0 2397 1139 210.45% 64
Lavington 15 0 3 0 1749 1366 128.04% 60
Yarrawonga 14 0 4 0 1861 1302 142.93% 56
Wangaratta 11 0 7 0 1671 1378 121.26% 44
Wodonga Raiders 9 0 9 0 1450 1523 95.21% 36
North Albury 8 0 10 0 1450 1496 96.93% 32
Myrtleford 6 0 12 0 1165 1756 66.34% 24
Corowa-Rutherglen 5 0 13 0 1279 1901 67.28% 20
Wangaratta Rovers 4 0 14 0 1127 1549 72.76% 16
Wodonga 2 0 16 0 1016 1755 57.89% 8

FINALS

Final Team G B Pts Team G B Pts
Elimination Wangaratta 8 9 57 Wodonga Raiders 9 15 69
Qualifying Lavington 8 16 64 Yarrawonga 16 5 101
1st Semi Lavington 14 22 106 Wodonga Raiders 7 5 47
2nd Semi Albury 23 6 144 Yarrawonga 16 7 103
Preliminary Yarrawonga 13 14 92 Lavington 13 11 89
Grand Albury 15 13 103 Yarrawonga 14 10 94

2012 Ladder[edit]

Ovens & Murray FL Wins Byes Losses Draws For Against % Pts
Yarrawonga 16 0 1 1 1769 1167 151.59% 66
Wangaratta Rovers 15 0 3 0 1672 1220 137.05% 60
Albury 13 0 5 0 2124 1357 156.52% 52
Lavington 11 0 6 1 1614 1500 107.60% 46
Wodonga Raiders 10 0 8 0 1699 1539 110.40% 40
Wodonga 6 0 12 0 1362 1631 83.51% 24
Wangaratta 5 0 13 0 1361 1562 87.13% 20
Corowa-Rutherglen 5 0 13 0 1263 1882 67.11% 20
Myrtleford 4 0 14 0 1305 1724 75.70% 16
North Albury 4 0 14 0 1325 1912 69.30% 16

FINALS

Final Team G B Pts Team G B Pts
Elimination Lavington 12 19 91 Wodonga Raiders 9 10 64
Qualifying Wangaratta Rovers 18 9 117 Albury 15 12 102
1st Semi Albury 15 5 95 Lavington 13 13 91
2nd Semi Yarrawonga 13 10 88 Wangaratta Rovers 13 8 86
Preliminary Albury 20 8 128 Wangaratta Rovers 15 14 104
Grand Yarrawonga 14 9 93 Albury 12 9 81

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.realfooty.theage.com.au/realfooty/articles/2004/09/24/1095961857620.html?from=storyrhs

External links[edit]