North Wagga Saints - the Early Years
Australian Football in North Wagga has a rich tapestry of history through the years from 1887 to now. Home games were played on the North Wagga Recreation Ground near the viaduct which is now used by the pony club. Floods during the 1930's forced the club to play some games on the millhouse paddocks. In 1946, the North Wagga club members got together and graded a killing and grazing paddock that belonged to a Mr Fred Winnerbom. The land is now the present site of McPherson Oval.
McPherson Oval was named in honour of Mr Bill McPherson, the clubs longest serving president who died in 1973.
North Wagga's 1946 1st Grade grand finalists
- the "Stars"
Rear from left: Gordie Anderson, Jim Price, Frank Jackson, Ernie Giltrap, Jack Ledwidge, Merv Giltrap, B Montgomery, Gordon Clout, Stan Anderson, Jack Price, Roy McFarland, Roy Robinson, Lou Collins.
Centre: Jim Price, Bob Phillips, captain-coach Ted Davis, Roy Gregory, Les George, Gordon Russell, Jim Charlton.
Front: Bill McPherson, Bertie Edwards, Frank Brennan, Tom Walton, Jack Nolan, Ben Charlton
North Wagga's Ted Davis once won the G.P. Anderson trophy for the most consistent player in the league
Davis trialled with VFL club Hawthorn in 1934
Full forward Stan Rees set a record in 1936
Saints won the match by 249 points
On July 5th, 1936, North Wagga full forward to set a record by kicking 37 goals in a game.
Rees won kicks at will in his teams 40:22 (262) to 2:1 (13) win over Currawarna.
He averaged nine goals per match for the season and The Daily Advertiser scribe wrote that “Rees displays uncanny judgment when shooting for goals and in addition is a clever positional player”.
Ted Smeaton, playing for Mangoplah against Currawarna, broke Rees’ mark in the same year with 39 goals.
Former great Ernie Nolan eludes Yerong Creek's Ray Parr with a little help from team mate Colin Kohlhagen
Nolan, or "Bruiser" as he was known, was one of the most popular and talented players ever to pull on a North Wagga jumper. During his career Nolan played about 150 games on a wing and for his fine effort was made a life member of the club.
He was renowned for his courage and terrific ball handling which dazzled supporters of the saints for many years
Record crowd sees first premiership win
“Best grand final in Wagga”
A record crowd witnessed North Wagga’s first ever Premiership win in 1935, a game “acclaimed as the best grand final ever seen at Wagga” according to The Daily Advertiser’s football correspondent.
More than 3000 spectators crammed into the Bolton Park oval to see North Wagga, making its debut in the grand final play, beating Mangoplah, the defending premier, by 19 points – 12:17 (89) to 10:10 (70).
According to the Advertiser “the game was hard and fast from the bounce till the final bell, and it was obvious throughout that North Wagga were destined for victory, although they had to fight for every inch”.
The story continued: “The spectators were at a high pitch of excitement and at the commencement of the match Mangoplah were general favorites. Both teams were in the pink of condition. North seeming, rather small alongside the ruggedly built men from Mangoplah. However, the game went to the swiftest”.
North opened the scoring with a goal from its fabled full forward Stan Rees following a mark.
North led by 26 points at half-time and only a more determined Mangoplah defence in the final quarter prevented North from “piling up a huge score”.
North centreman Jack Chambers and center half forward Bob McRea were the “two finest and most effective players afield”.
“They were in almost every attack right through the game, and particularly in North’s grand rally in the second quarter, when they gained their 26 point lead which virtually won the game for them”.
“There was no one on the ground more pleased at North’s victory than Jack McPherson, the popular president of the club, who with his able committee have battled for years with practically a team of boys, and have at last the height of their ambition, the premiership”.
North Wagga was first Known as Old Town when the club was born in 1887.
When North Wagga came into being in 1930 its colours were black and white hooped stripes.
In 1946, when the club reformed again after WWII, the club wore heavy white cotton guernseys, then used for motorcyclists, with a red star sewn on the front.
The "stars" remained until 1958 when a group of men met at Merve Giltrap's house to discuss football.
The group included Jack Ledwidge, Jack Price and Ab Montgomery. A VFL book was produced and the men started flicking through the pages.
The men came upon a photograph of Bill Mohr who was born and raised at North Wagga and who went on to become a good full forward for St Kilda.
Mr Ledwidge thought how splendid Mohr looked in the St Kilda colours of red, white and black.
Mr Giltrap, so the record goes wrote to St Kilda enquiring if it had an old set of jumpers for sale but a negative reply was received.
An order was then placed with Mr Alan Lawrence of Lawrence's Sports Store, the jumpers arrived soon after and North Wagga has donned the red, white and black to this day
The 1952 first grade team
Rear from left: Maurie Cousley, Des Hore, captain-coach Merv Peiper, Gordon Russell, Clinton Smith, Fred McGregor, Gordon Clout.
Centre: Ron Peacock, Frank Peacock, Gordon Giltrap, Ken Murray, Roy Gregory, Gordie Charleton.
Front: Bill Russell,Ernie Nolan, Alan Burgess, Jack Nolan, Bob Hamilton