Loose men everywhere
By Rod Gillett on behalf of the Reunion Organising Committee
For most of its illustrious history the UNE footy club hasn’t actually fielded a team in its own name — except at the very beginning of the game in 1962 and since 1999 with the Nomads. For the rest of the time it has been an umbrella body for a bunch of teams from all the colleges at various stages (except Mary White), or scraped together from amalgamations of colleges or the town and district. The University of New England Australian National Football Club was charged with the task of running the Australian football competition on campus, and at different periods for the district and/or the region. It ran the competition without a player transfer system, or a tribunal, or an umpires’ appointment board or a registrar — the club’s approach was to simply to have a game of footy and a drink afterwards — without any unnecessary overheads.
Hence no player records but a litany of good times that has been largely undocumented…
The UNE club’s “mission statement” — as club founder Bob Cason has labeled it — was to ‘grow the game’. It fostered the growth of the game in the Armidale district from its very beginnings, mainly because the club needed opposition to play against! The formation of a campus competition based on the colleges provided for regular fixtures that enabled the game to become established as part of the university sporting fabric and as it turned out a means for other clubs to get the game going in their area. Tamworth, Gunnedah, and Coffs Harbour all got their start in the UNE competition. Subsequently, leagues were spawned in the North West and on the North Coast. When the latest reincarnation of the UNE club was put together in 1999 — the Nomads didn’t have to invent its opposition; it was able to join the Tamworth AFL. The Reunion brings together all the disparate types that have played footy at UNE over the years.The zest and enthusiasm of all the past players, officials and supporters that have actively supported the function has been most heartening for the Organising Committee that has sought to be inclusive as possible and to embrace all involved in the game in New England over the years. As the nominal Chairman of the group, I want to express my gratitude to all that have come together to celebrate the UNEANFC . In particular, I want to thank the following people for their efforts in bringing us together:
- Teddy Edwards for his tremendous efforts with all the lead-up work, database management, sponsorship and eventmanagement
- Deb Vaughan for ensuring a smooth registration process with the support of ‘Coach’ (aka Brendan Vaughan)
- Lloyd O’Connell for editing and publishing our history booklet
- Jonathon Sargeant for connecting us to the Nomads and liaising with the University and the Sports Union
- Bill Malcolm for his support and guidance, especially on the menus and venues
- John Patrick Makeham for making footy at UNE so much fun
- Everyone in attendance at the reunion for coming together to celebrate the UNE footy club as part of the University’s 50 years of autonomy.
The UNE pioneers
On a personal note thanks so much to those blokes that got footy going at UNE back in the 60s. I know that like many others, if there hadn’t been “Aussie Rules” at UNE, I wouldn’t have come to the University of New England. Our experiences were greatly enriched as a result of your great efforts and the friendships that we’ve formed have been ever-lasting. Thanks!