Football's community connection

FOOTBALL has provided the Leitchville community with pride, joy and disappointment over the past century.

More importantly, it has provided a community hub, a place where local people can gather in solidarity and support.

Leitchville's football centenary celebrations on Saturday provided a reunion for some remaining players and officials for premierships achieved half a century ago and 30 years ago.

More than 250 people were taken down memory lane at a dinner on Saturday night, with highlights of each decade of the club's history shared.

Leitchville 1969 premiership vice-captain Bruce Lunghusen, left, and then club president Hec Brown reminisce with the cup.

Leitchville 1969 premiership vice-captain Bruce Lunghusen, left, and then club president Hec Brown reminisce with the cup.

Leitchville Football Club was formed in 1919 after World War One and took a three-year break during

World War Two.

Leitchville centenary committee and former Leitchville-Gunbower player, Matt Hawken said that the club had operated throughout the century apart from the war break.

In recent years, it has been an amalgamated team with neighbouring Gunbower and has achieved premiership success three times since they merged.

Leitchville won senior football premeirships in 1926, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1939, then a gap of 30 years to the next in 1969, then 1974, 1975, 1989, 1991 and 1994.

Leitchville-Gunbower has won the flag in 1995, 2017 and 2018.

The centenary celebrations was also a reunion of remaining players and officials from the premiership teams of 50 and 30 years ago.

Some well-known Leitchville names featured in the 1969 group who attended either the game and/or the centenary dinner on Saturday.

Grandchildren of 1969 premiership team vice-captain Bruce Lunghusen and teammates Gary Hore and George Hancock played on Saturday, respectively Jack Lunghusen, Toby Hore and Matt Hay.

Among the 1969 players were Doug Hawken, Lachie McNaught, Ian Behrens, John Cleave, Ken Bruns, Graeme Peace, John Robbins, Stewart Peace and coach John Hoiles.

The then club president, Hec Brown and treasurer, Max Fehring were also at the celebrations.

Multiple generations of local families have pulled on the former Maroons jumper - maroon and golf - or the current Bombers outfit. 

The club now plays in the Heathcote District Football Netball League, but originally competed in the Elmore Cohuna Football League, referred to as the 'down the line league', as the participating clubs were situated along the railway line and later the Northern District Football League and the Northern and Echuca Football League.

The club's involvement with netball - then women's basketball - commenced in 1966.

"The Village" has averaged a premiership about every six years since its inception.

The occasion had a significance beyond sport itself. 

In a time of turmoil for dairy communities such as Leitchville, having football and netball teams provides a crucial escape from the challenges of day-to-day existence. What has remained constant is the importance of football and ultimately also netball to the Leitchville community as both a sporting and social hub.

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