That’s Bush League: Terang-Mortlake edition

Lewy Taylor moved from Terang-Mortlake to Brisbane. Very similar in that they’re both AFL mad, cold, wet, and littered with dairy farms. I’m sure the transition was easy.

SOME towns claim to be the home of cool people and things, like Hollywood actors or inventions that changed the way we live each day.

The dual towns of Terang and Mortlake, however, boast of being the home of Gammalite and Olivine. Never heard of them? I’ll give you a clue – one is a mineral and the other is a racehorse that won a bunch of money at the trots.

I bet you still can’t pick which is which.

While both towns need to work on their gloat games, they are home to a footy club that has consistently punched above its weight for the better part of 80 years.

One of the founding members of the Hampden Football League, the Bloods survived solely as Terang until a merger with Mortlake in 2002. And by merger, we mean that Terang retained its jumper, its mascot, its theme song, and all of its players. They just occasionally play home games in Mortlake now.

Mortlake, for its part, was also a founding member of the Hampden League, winning premierships in 1931, 1936 and 1975 before merging with Derrinallum in 1999 to form the Western Lions, a club that only lasted one season before Mortlake married Terang and had a progressive hyphen baby.

The Bloods – whose mascot takes the form of a devil – play at both the Terang Recreation Reserve and the D.C. Farren Oval in towns with populations of 2348 and 1073 respectively.

Winning 12 premierships (as Terang) since being founded in 1930, the club sits well ahead of main rivals Cobden and Camperdown in terms of on-field success, although their AFL representation has been deficient over the past decade. Brisbane’s Lewis Taylor is the only Terang-Mortlake player currently on an AFL list.

Terang and Mortlake. Fun fact, the bloke who attacked Gen-Y for eating too much smashed avo, Bernard Salt, is from Terang. OK, not really fun. But a fact all the same.

The town of Terang itself was first settled by Europeans in 1840 on the banks of Lake Terang, notable these days for the fact it holds absolutely no water whatsoever.

While their lake is dry, Terangutans don’t suffer the same limitations when it comes to their throats. Four watering holes dot the small town, including the Middle, the Bottom, the Commercial, and the Wheatsheaf, which all take turns opening, becoming popular, closing down, becoming popular again, and repeating the whole process.

When they’re all up and about, and if you include the popular Noorat Pub just five minutes down the road, that’s one watering hole for every 470 people

Needless to say, there’s always somewhere to get pissed in Terang.

God bless that town.


RONNIE WEARMOUTH: (Collingwood: 186 games, 127 goals)

Ronnie Wearmouth talking with Tom Hafey, taking the piss by sinking a pot and wearing a Vic Health hat at the same time.

RONNIE Wearmouth epitomises Collingwood. A rough head, unkempt hair, questionable dental health … and really bloody good at footy.

Wearmouth, a Magpie fan favourite during the 1970s, could have easily not ended up at Victoria Park. While Terang was zoned to Fitzroy, Ronnie’s father Dick played his entire career at Footscray, notching 100 games after being recruited from Rupanyup.

That meant he could have followed Wearmouth Senior’s footsteps to the Bulldogs, but as fate would have it, Ronnie started his career at Noorat (where the aforementioned decent pub is) which was zoned to Collingwood despite being just 5km away from Terang.

Ron’s signature long hair wasn’t taken well when he first arrived at Victoria Park, to the point that legendary coach Bob Rose pinned the country lad to the ground one night at training and gave him a bowl cut.

Showing glimpses of brilliance early in his career, everything came together for Wearmouth when Tom Hafey joined the Magpies as coach in 1977, bringing in a strict a strict training regimen.

Wearmouth would go on to play in four losing grand finals, before retiring in 1981.

PAUL COUCH: (Geelong: 259 games, 203 goals)

Gerard, Paul, Peter and Billy Couch after Terang’s 1981 premiership.

WHILE he’s remembered as “The Boy from Boggy Creek” and is mostly associated with the Warrnambool Football Club, 1989 Brownlow Medallist Paul Couch started his senior career at Terang.

Starting with the Bloods as a 15-year-old, Couch eventually lined up with brothers Peter, Billy and Gerard in the 1981 premiership team before controversially packing up his bags with his siblings and moving to rival Warrnambool in 1983.

Why it’s controversial depends on who you talk to. Some say it was because Terang weren’t willing to give Paul more of a run, while true blue Bloods say it was because Warrnambool went on a poaching run that targeted quality footballers at smaller clubs.

Either way, Couch ended up missing out on selection for Fitzroy – the Hampden League’s zoned club – who thought he was too slow and too one-sided, in a classic example of the Lions’ prudence for spotting talent.

Like Wearmouth, Couch would play in several grand finals without any success, before Gary Ayres – the arch-enemy of every Cats fan – cut the star centreman from the team at the end of 1997.

Tragically, Couch passed away from a heart attack in March last year.

CHRIS HEFFERNAN: (Essendon/Melbourne: 170 games, 56 goals)

Carlton’s Nick Stevens forgetting that Chris Heffernan isn’t a defenceless woman.

IF you attended Terang College after 1997, you would have been told of how Chris Heffernan had to walk 100km in the snow to get to footy training, all whilst doing his homework by candlelight.

Or something like that.

Heff was constantly used by teachers as an example of what one could achieve if they put their mind to it, and for good reason. The No.2 pick in the 1996 National Draft, Heffernan also smashed it academically, scoring some kind of impossibly high ENTER for a school that only has a touch under 200 students at any given time.

A premiership player in 2000, Heffernan finished his playing career in 2007 after 170 games and 56 goals.

Then, just to prove the Terang College teachers right even more, Heffernan’s career post footy has seen him work for Deutsche Bank in New York and Ernst & Young in Melbourne, forever tainting any achievements of any Terang student that’s ever left that school.

What a (successful) dick.

THE HARRIS BROTHERS: Leon Harris (Fitzroy: 186 games, 101 goals); Bernie Harris (Fitzroy/Brisbane/St Kilda: 107 games, 118 goals)

Leon Harris’ ability in the pack was exceptional because the other players had to look so far down to see him.

BOTH Mortlake alumni, Leon and Bernie Harris were known as small midfielders that played with guts and determination.

Bernie, an inaugural member of the Brisbane Bears, has the distinction being the first player to ever kick a goal for Brisbane, while Leon has added to the distinctly south-west Victoria flavour of this year’s Lions by joining them as a recruitment consultant.

It’s a weird phenomenon. Along with Harris, the Lions have Lewy Taylor from the Bloods, Hugh McCluggage from Allansford, and Cedric Cox from Camperdown, as well as ex-Terang College PE teacher Paul Henrikson as assistant backs coach.

On top of that, they’re sponsored by Camperdown Milk. And we haven’t even mentioned all the kids that came through the Geelong Falcons system.

The Lions zone is alive and well in the Hampden region.

ALAN MCCONNELL: (Footscray: 37 games, 5 goals)

One season in and they’re still more talented than Fitzroy’s last team.

LIKE Ronnie Wearmouth, Alan McConnell started his playing career in the Mount Noorat Football League but with Kolora, Noorat’s arch-rivals and current merger mate.

Playing some footy for Terang before joining Footscray, McConnell is mostly remembered as being Fitzroy’s last ever coach, finishing with an 0-11 record having stood in for the sacked Bernie Quinlan, then the sacked Michael Nunan.

McConnell went on to become head AFL coach of the AIS, before taking the GWS Giants AFLW head coach role literally today.

Solid timing.

CHARLIE PAYNE: (Essendon: 184 games, 128 goals)

Charlie Payne. Sounds like a country and western singer.

WHILE names like Wearmouth, Heffernan and Couch are revered in Terang, the name Charlie Payne is often forgotten.

Moving to Essendon from Terang at just 17 in 1962, Payne led the Bombers goalkicking in his first two seasons, playing full-forward in the club’s 1962 premiership and back pocket its 1965 premiership.

At the end of the 1972 season, Payne left the Dons to join North Adelaide, something fellow Terang alumni and ex-Demons pest Jordie McKenzie would do 34 years later.

DARRYL GRIFFITHS: (St Kilda: 123 games, 40 goals)

Scanlens footy cards. A gold mine for when you can’t find a bloke’s picture anywhere else.

ANOTHER name that’s often goes unnoticed, Griffiths debuted for the Saints in 1963 and is one an exclusive club to score a goal with his first ever kick.

Griffiths played in the midfield during St Kilda’s sole grand final victory in 1966, and won the club best and fairest in 1970 before moving to Western Australia to play for Claremont in the WAFL.

LUKE VOGELS: (Sydney: 17 games, 11 goals)

Luke Vogels you star! Hasn’t got the same ring to it.

IT’S always nice to finish these things on an unlikely hero, and Luke Vogels was just that for the Swans against the Bulldogs in 2005.

A dominant force in the Hampden League having won the Maskell Medal in 2004, Vogels joined the Swans on their rookie list in 2005, before debuting against the Bombers in Round 7 that year.

Two weeks later, the name Vogels was burned into the memory of all Swans fans when he almost single-handedly got them over the line with two last quarter goals in a tight match against the Bulldogs.

It was the highlight of a short career that ended in 2007 after he was delisted by the Swans.




One Reply to “That’s Bush League: Terang-Mortlake edition”

  1. Was great to read and brings back good memories

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