GUNNEDAH’S Wolseley Oval was bathed in sunshine on Friday as the shire’s NAIDOC Week celebrations continued with a “dreamtime” Aussie Rules games.
Gunnedah High School and St Mary’s College students battled it out for the Brian Lenton shield in the annual game, with St Mary’s once again taking out shield with a 37-point win.
St Mary’s Tom Maher was a stand out for his side, claiming the inaugural Kamilaroi medal for best on ground.
Gunnedah High School coach Sam Proudfoot told the Namoi Valley Independent he “couldn’t be prouder” of all of the students.
“It was a spectacular game,” Mr Proudfoot said.
“The game was played in great spirits and to a very high standard, and it was great to see the community get around the event which I think is the whole point of NAIDOC Week.”
Mr Proudfoot said the day was much anticipated.
“I don’t think I have seen the whole school so excited in my time here," he said.
"It’s great for the sport more than anything, as I’m not sure Aussie Rules would normally get this much attention in Gunnedah.
“As well as celebrating NAIDOC Week, promoting the sport was a major goal of ours as well, and I think we did that and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved.”
St Mary’s College coach Oliver Neader said the entire day was a memorable occasion.
“To have a welcome to country performed before the game was great,” Mr Neader said.
“I think it was very special that it was performed by two young people who I think most of the students would know personally.
“You could have heard a pin drop it was that special.”
Mr Neader said he was confident the game would become a tradition between the two schools.
“We are lucky to have a few students on our team who also play local Aussie Rules for the Gunnedah Bulldogs,” he said.
“Those guys really helped push over the line, but I think the terrific performances by some of our guys, who were giving it a go for the first time such as Caleb McIlveen, Will Patterson and Jackson Carr were very impressive.”
Mr Proudfoot agreed there was some potential future Aussie Rules players in both teams.
“For us we didn’t have anyone who plays the game regularly,” he said.
“So for guys like the Fordham brothers, Des Tuckerman and Ash White who don’t play regularly, their performances were excellent.”
The games final score was: St Mary’s College 6-11-47 to Gunnedah High School 1-4-10.