North Bendigo's stars from '74 reunite

CARN BULLDOGS: North Bendigo Football Netball Club president Jamie Campbell, co-coach of this year’s senior team Rob Bennett,  ’74 premiership coach Ralph Conboy and joint co-ordinator of this weekend’s event Scott Pysing in the Atkins Street social rooms. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

CARN BULLDOGS: North Bendigo Football Netball Club president Jamie Campbell, co-coach of this year’s senior team Rob Bennett, ’74 premiership coach Ralph Conboy and joint co-ordinator of this weekend’s event Scott Pysing in the Atkins Street social rooms. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

THE stars from one of North Bendigo Football Club’s greatest seasons will reunite this weekend.

North’s senior and reserves premiership teams from 1974 will gather again in the Bulldogs kennel at Superior Roofing Oval in Atkins Street.

The reunion kicks off at 7pm tonight in the Atkins Street rooms and rolls through to tomorrow’s home game against Elmore.

Key players in the reunion have included Scott Pysing and Skye Bennett, club president Jamie Campbell and more.

The seniors triumph in ’74 was the second in the club’s history.

Ralph Conboy capped his first year at the club as captain-coach of the Golden City Football League’s senior premiership team.

“It was an amazing season,” Conboy said.

“We went into the grand final, not just as the Bulldogs, but the underdogs,” he said of taking on Northern United.

The Bulldogs run to premiership glory was not an easy one.

“Northern United beat us in the second semi-final and we then had to play the preliminary final at Backhaus Oval, not the QEO because it was waterlogged.”

North beat Kangaroo Flat in the preliminary final and earned another crack at the Swallows.

“Northern United was an extremely good side,” Conboy said.

“They had a lot of talented players, and Maurie Sharkey was an outstanding leader.”

But on grand final day it was North Bendigo which reigned supreme.

Conboy said the premiership capped a lot of hard work on and off the field.

North Bendigo powerbrokers John Pysing and Peter Monkhouse played key roles in recruiting Conboy from Inglewood to coach the club.

The run at Inglewood included undefeated premiers in ’71 and finals in ’72, before Conboy decide to step aside from coaching and play for the Blues in ’73.

“I had taken a bit of interest in North Bendigo.

“They had won five matches in a row in ’73, but then fell away. Going to the club I believed they had the nucleus of being a good team.

“Terry Day and Noel Griffiths headed in with me from Inglewood, John Barton made a comeback at North, and Ray Lowther returned from Golden Square to play for North.

“We also had Graeme Alley, aka Mo, join us from Echuca,” said Conboy.

“He was a brilliant wingman.

“Dale Alford and Doug Roulston were just 18 and 21, but a big part of the side.”

A powerful half-forward line included Barry Lowndes and Russell Roulston.

At full-forward, Neville Massina went on to kick 119 goals in the season.

“Neville was great for us. He not only played, but was also president of the club.

“He rarely went more than 30 metres from goal, was a great focal point and kick for goal.”

This season Massina has returned to North Bendigo as co-coach of the senior team with Rob Bennett.

Rob’s father, Col played in the reserves premiership.

Back in ’74, Massina led a committee that included Peter Monkhouse as secretary, Peter Mansell as treaurer, and player reps Ken Gilbee and Peter ‘Suey’ Griffiths on the committee.

“Suey Griffiths was an outstanding clubman,” said Conboy.

“He was coach of the reserves team and gave me plenty of support throughout the week and on matchday.”

Conboy also recalled the commitment of the Ladies Committee and strong supporter group throughout his time at the club.

“In that season there was a lot happening off the field,” Conboy said.

“Work was being done to improve the facilities, so fund-raising by the committees was important.”

Key players in the 40-year reunion have been Scott Pysing and Skye Bennett.

“We have an outstanding response,” Pysing said of an event that has drawn past players from as far afield as Perth and Toowoomba.

“The vast majority of players from ‘74 will be here.

“It should be a great night. There will be flashbacks, some surprises, and snippets from Dick Turner’s call on Radio 3BO of the Bulldogs-Swallows clash. 

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