Teams of old do it tough on epic road journeys

Vic TantiGeraldton Guardian

In the 1950s, before the GNFL began, there were 12 qualifying rounds as Railways, Rovers, Brigades and Towns played each other four times, so general byes were easily slotted in.

During one bye, a lightning carnival was held in Geraldton, which drew teams from within and beyond the Mid West and included Perth sides.

There were also inter-association games between Geraldton and leagues from Irwin, Mullewa, Northampton-Chapman Valley, Mt Magnet, Perenjori and elsewhere.

Roads in the 1950s were poor and vehicles unreliable.

In 1959, a team from Rovers went to Carnarvon. They left on a Friday night, aiming to get there while players, supporters and officials slept.

The dirt road made the trip slow as there’d been much rain.

South of the Overlander, the bus bogged. All but the driver got off to push or pull the vehicle out.

It took ages but they finally got going. Then, 190km south of Carnarvon, another delay — a heavily laden truck sunk to its axles.

A semi, which had tried to go around it, was also bogged. The road was blocked and it was getting dark.

The Guardian reported: “After it became apparent the problem could not be solved without outside assistance, three of the Rovers party walked at first light to a Main Roads camp.”

“They returned with a grader and several hours later, the bus resumed its journey.”

It arrived at 3.30pm, some 20 hours after leaving.

The game against Carnarvon-Gascoyne was lost by 22 points with Neville McConkey and Norm Jack best for Rovers.

They were home at 7am on the Monday and Harry Pass, a council employee, was dropped off at the depot so he could start work on time.

The same weekend, Towns left on Saturday morning for Mt Magnet and made good time until their bus broke down near Wurarga (173km west of Mt Magnet).

It was eventually repaired and on Sunday, Towns played Magnet and lost by 32 points despite the efforts of Trevor Monger and Jim Aitken.

Brigades and Railways were also away, but safely, and met Northampton-Upper Chapman and Mullewa in Nabawa and Mullewa respectively.

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