STILL FLYING: Irymple will celebrate the 40 year premiership reunion of the 1978 Seniors and Reserves flags. Leading the celebrations will be premiership coach Ron Hynes and senior footballer Jeff Muller. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
PREMIERSHIPS are hard to come by, so to claim two in the same year was worth celebrating.
Stories will be shared at Irymple’s Henshilwood Park tomorrow when the 1978 Seniors and Reserves premiership teams celebrate their 40 year reunion.
Led by coach Ron Hynes, Irymple won the club’s fifth premiership over South Mildura by 25 points, 8.16 (64) to 5.9 (39), on a blustery day at City Oval.
The Swallows kicked 4.8 to 0.1 in the first term and were never headed from that points. Star ruck-rover Amos Gobbo was named best on ground. In his preview of the grand final the late, great media man, Bob Fox, named Gobbo as “one of the best handlers in the game”.
It was an experienced Irymple outfit that took to the field, with nine of the starting 18 boasting over 100 games of experience.
In a low-scoring Reserves grand final Irymple won 6.6 (42) to 1.5 (11) over Red Cliffs.
The ‘class of ’78’ will come together at the Irymple Hotel for dinner and drinks tonight, before watching the current day Swallows take on Imperials for a place in the 2018 Sunraysia Football and Netball League finals series.
Hynes and former senior footballer Jeff Muller are expecting this weekend to be a great time.
“There will be about 70 people coming, and that includes wives. There are only about three or four from each team who won’t be able to make it. I think Queensland is the furthest some will travel,” Jeff said.
“On the Friday we’ll head over to the Irymple Pub for dinner and drinks. The clubrooms there now weren’t around in ’78. We’d head across to the Pub every Thursday for the team announcements. They were still old Army barracks at the time.
“On the Saturday the Footy Club have organised for the ’78 teams to get together in the Cricket Club rooms. It has been said the 2008 Reserves premiership side may tag along for their own reunion.”
Irymple were premiers in 1976 but were eliminated from the finals in straight sets the following year.
Ron said his side were favourites in the grand final after Imperials followed suit and lost both their finals.
“I think it’s the only time in the club’s history we won the seniors and reserves in the same year,” he said.
“We were probably the favourites going into the grand final because Imps had been on top all year but went out in straight sets.
“There is still a cohort here that are regulars around the footy club, while a number have also left the district. It’s something we’ll always remember.”
No doubt many stories will have grown extra legs after so many years, but one of the more extraordinary involved Jeff. The defender injured his ankle in the semi-final and was unable to take the field in the grand final.
“He had been earmarked to play on their gun forward Terry Fitzgerald, and we needed some options,” Ron said.
“We opted for Trevor Heaft to take his place. That grand final was the only seniors game he played for the year.”
Jeff said he still felt as much a part of the premiership side as anyone despite not taking to the field.
“I may not have played in that game but I still felt like I was part of the premiership team. They didn’t give out medals in those days,” he said.