Even wet weather couldn’t rain on Murray League grand final parade


Big day for a duck: Puddles of water line the boundary of the Moama Recreation Reserve. Photo: Steve Huntley Photo by Steve Huntley

“A great day when you’re a duck.”

That line from a member of the crowd to describe the wet conditions that greeted everyone and everyone at Moama Recreation Reserve on Saturday only added to the memories of a great Murray League finals day.

For the first time since 2019, firsts were crowned at the football and netball competitions.

The sense of excitement and anticipation drew crowds from near and far.

A look at the cars parked off-site on the way into the gates offered a glimpse of how far some had travelled.

Pot of Gold: The rainbow hovers over the Moama Recreation Reserve late Saturday. Photo by Steve Huntley

Pigdon Holden, Cobram Toyota, Werribee Mazda, Darryl Twitt Motors, Ken Muston Motors, Wangaratta Mazda, Yarrawonga Toyota.

The broad Murray League presence was well represented on the day.

Spotted: Dave Amos, member of Nicholls Sam Birrell and Campaspe Shire Councilman Rob Amos. Photo: Steve Huntley Photo by Steve Huntley

Cobram, Mulwala, Deniliquin Rams and Rumbalara all traveled over an hour to be there.

Moama, the host club, with six teams in different classes.

Tongala, Echuca United, Finley and Nathalia are all represented.

Even those who didn’t have a team on the field played their part.

Hard work: Mulwala’s Jake Dalgliesh was covered in mud during the seniors grand final. Photo by Steve Huntley

Volunteers from Numurkah Football Netball Club ran the canteen, which was definitely the busiest place.

Even more than the bars, you say.

All in the family: The Tucker family celebrate after Tongala won the Reserves Premiership – (back row) Monica, Marty, Jayden, Leanne, Shannon, Phil, Trip, Callum, Chelsea. (front row) Jett and Kase. Photo by Steve Huntley

Well, we spied a teenager who was hustled on duty to bring a row of ice cream cones back to the bar in a wheelbarrow.

The ice-cold cans, priced at $6 each (you can’t beat the value), proved popular on a day when mercury barely climbed into the double digits.

The weather gods weren’t on our side, but they didn’t spoil an action-packed day on the soccer and netball fields.

On the netball courts, crowds huddled by a dozen as the youngsters set the stage early before the older players vied for Prime Minister glory later in the afternoon.

The title honors were shared by clubs, with Moama three (B grade, 17 and under, 13 and under), Deniliquin two (A grade and 15 and under), Echuca United one (C grade) and Finley (C – note reserve).

Having previously lost two major finals in heartbreaking circumstances, Finley was good to see a Cats team celebrate on the main stage.

Braving the Elements: The crowd in the stands at Moama Recreation Reserve on Saturday. Photo by Steve Huntley

Fresh from winning their own flag, the Cobram quartantes all sat together in a makeshift stand on the outside of the ground and eagerly awaited the seniors.

As they laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, a youth, with his sweater and medal around his neck, pulled him to his mouth to check if it was the real thing.

Yes, mate, that was it.

With the showers continuing, the favorite spot for many was on the side of the clubrooms, where one could get some cover.

It was semi dry as far as lookouts went and in the great cause of country soccer and netball, fans from all clubs looked together and enjoyed each other’s company.

If the COVID pandemic has robbed us of one thing, it has been a chance to be with our buddies and friendly opponents, especially in football.

As the siren sounded to mark yet another netball premiere, setup for the seniors competition was fast approaching.

You Beautiful: Mulwala wins the Murray Football League Premiership Cup. Photo by Steve Huntley

When the Cobram and Mulwala players took the opportunity to shake their nerves by warming up on the floor after three quarters, the reserve grand final was at a critical juncture.

Moama prevailed with two goals but Tongala, who were aiming for back-to-back premierships and an unbeaten season, had the advantage with the wind blowing towards the Victorian end of the ground.

“Run, run, run,” was the message from Moama assistant coach Darcy Hall.

A walk over to the Tongala Huddle saw this author greeted with “you write notes for Moama”.

“Nah, the river,” the answer.

“OK.”

The sense of calm in the Tongala team extended to coach Steve Hammond, whose voice barely rose above the general hubbub.

The Prize: The senior men’s soccer grand final umpires in the background before the Murray League grand final. Photo: Steve Huntley Photo by Steve Huntley

His measured, calm approach certainly made the difference after an even first 10 minutes of the last quarter, with the Blues scoring three goals (two by Zane Johnstone) in four minutes.

With two more goals, Tonny extended the lead to 18 points before Moama found a final par.

Two games within 63 seconds cut the deficit to six points, the lead when the siren wailed and sparked cheering scenes for the Blues.

Such was the excitement in the Tongala camp that the floor speaker’s pleas for the blues to come to the presentation area went unnoticed for several minutes.

By that time the rain had set in, as had Deniliquin’s lead in the A-grade netball playoff against Rumbalara.

The Rams finished an unbeaten season, winning 44-33, much to the Blue and Gold loyalists’ gold.

Back to the footy and Cobram charged out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, racing to a three-goal lead on the first change.

The second quarter was literally more of a stalemate, although the Tigers appeared to be in control.

They don’t call the third term the Premiership Quarter for nothing and Mulwala dragged himself back into the game.

The lions scored four goals to two as the sun threatened to break through again.

Come in Spinner: The Cobram and Mulwala captains flip a coin ahead of the Seniors Grand Final. Photo: Steve Huntley Photo by Steve Huntley

With it still raining, Owen Conway cut the lead to two points before Jamie Smith’s goal put Mulwala ahead for the first time 17 minutes into the last quarter.

The lions didn’t want to give up this position and won with 7.5 (47) to 6.8 (44).

The siren prompted jubilant scenes from Mulwala worshipers as they celebrated the club’s first senior premiership since 1990.

Blues Steel: Tongala runs through the banner ahead of the reserve grand final. Photo: Steve Huntley Photo by Steve Huntley

They may be the Lions but the club song ‘Join in the chorus’ could not have been more appropriate as all Mulwala Club members, young and old, arm in arm, celebrated the flag.

Once again, Moama’s reputation for hosting grand finals classics lived up to expectations, dry or wet.

Going home a little rain-soaked was a small price to pay for attending and enjoying a great day of country football and netball.

Competition: Moama’s Sienna Agg, left, and Tongala opponent Tahlia Gordon during the U17 Netball Grand Final. Photo by Bransen Gibson

Big Dance: Rumbalara and Deniliquin Rams faced off in the Murray League A-Grade Netball Grand Final. Photo: Bransen Gibson Photo by Bransen Gibson



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