ASSH members may be interested in Neil Pollock’s Maher Cup website, which explores the social history of rugby league in the southwest slopes and northern Riverina between 1920 and 1971.
The project’s objective is to improve our understanding of the importance of the Maher Cup and rugby league football generally to the life and history of twelve towns of the NSW south west slopes and northern Riverina – Tumut, Gundagai, Cootamundra, Harden-Murrumburrah, Young, Junee, Temora, Barmedman, West Wyalong, Cowra, Grenfell and Boorowa – between 1920 and 1971.
The Maher Cup was simply different from other rugby league competitions. It permeated deep into the psyche of the citizens of these towns. The events around it were dramatic, the passions deep; it was about much more than football. Match attendances frequently exceeded the population of the home towns. Pioneering the professionalism of Rugby League, local businessman enticed internationals to play and coach, bringing quality entertainment to small places. This Cup persisted long after other challenge cups folded.
Most of the “literature” to date focuses on the drama of the Cup: the violence of players and crowds, the interminable protests, bribery, playing in snow or dust, the Cup being stolen, locked up for its safety and so on. This site wants to break from the hyperbole of the tabloids and develop a more nuanced approach, focused on answering the simple question – “why was the Maher Cup such a phenomenon?”
The site currently includes, for the first time anywhere, team lists and scorers for the 727 matches played and information about more than 3000 players. Thirty articles about the Cup have been developed so far, as well as a rapidly growing picture gallery and some contributor stories. Neil is currently developing biographies, focusing not on the big-name imports but on local stalwarts.
The site seeks to blend sports history, social history and family history to ensure that the Cup and the memories of those days in these towns is not only preserved but promoted, both to the aged who still remember and to those too young to experience the glory days of local rugby league.
The website now includes:
- A list of all 727 Maher Cup matches played with hypertext links from individual matches to any available online information about that match
- Team lists for those 727 matches – along with scorers. These lists are more than 97% complete and account for more than 99% of men who have participated in the Maher Cup
- An alphabetical list of over 3,300 players with the years they participated in the Maher Cup.
The main focus for the next few months will be on improving the quality and completeness of the above information on players and developing short biographies.
All assistance, advice, interest and information is warmly appreciated. Email Neil directly if you are interested in helping out or have information to share.