A repeat of the success of the previous two years was always going to be a hard task, especially having Iost the bulk of the 1987 team including Matt Corbett, Jeff and Rod Michael, Jim Inglis, John Walton, all former CWAFL representative players, as well as Chris Siegert, Rod Spolding and Brian Picker. Mick Manning from South Australia and Mark Johnson from Condobolin were Cowra’s only gains.
Just the same, the side began well losing to eventual Premiers Parkes by just 13 points in the first match after a great comeback in the last quarter. Unfortunately, this form couldn’t be maintained, and the side could manage just three wins, to finish second last on the ladder, ahead of only Young. The season included the side’s score on record: 1-0-6 against Orange. During the year, Nelson White and Peter Tremble registered their 50th senior game.
The reserves fared somewhat better finishing third after 9 wins. Cowra’s juniors too were well-performed with 10 wins to give than second place behind Parkes. During the season, the team scored a club-high 49-31-325 to nil against Orange, an amazing effort especially considering the Under 17’s play only 20 minute quarters. The total represents a scoring shot every minute!
An unfortunate finals draw gave the Parkes juniors homeground advantage in the second semifinal where in a low-scoring game they beat Cowra 5-6-36 to 4-11-35. Similarly, in the Preliminary Final a week later, Dubbo were also at home and eliminated Cowra, beating than by 29 points. Of some consolation though, Cowra’s Tim Morris was the League Under 17 goalkicker, while Jon Watson won the Under 17’s Best and Fairest in the League.
As in 1987, the Cowra reserves defeated both Orange and Dubbo on their way to another Grand Final, this time against Lithgow. The Cowra club again hosted the Grand Final but the reserves were never really in the hunt, losing to Lithgow 11-15-81 to 7-12-54.
Possibly the highlight of the season was the success of the CWAFL team of which Cowra were well-represented. The side had finished last the previous two years, but by beating favourites Sapphire Coast in Bega by a point in the Southern Division final, they progressed to the State final of the Country Championships played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. A great win there by the team against North Coast sealed the title of NSW Country Champions. The side was coached by Trevor Sanford, managed by Graeme Clements, trained by Kevin Harrison, with Evan Watson the League’s representative umpire, and included players Mick Manning and Geoff Day.
First Grade: Wins 3 Losses 11 Position 6th
50 First Grade games: Nelson White, Peter Tremble
A number of changes in the League far the 1989 season saw Coonabarabran enter the ‘89 competition, the reserve grade competition dropped, and a lack of playing numbers finally saw both the Forbes and Young go into recess.
Ken McMurtrie took over the reigns as senior coach, while Dick Devlin began a fairly successful stint as Under 17’s coach. Cameron Pogue was the only notable recruit for the Cowra club, with a number of previous reserve and Under 17’s players becoming regular first graders including Chris Gorham, Bill Devlin, Jeremy Ryan, Anthony Brown, Steve Boyd, Nigel Workman, Will Bunt and Paul Terry.
Wins over Bathurst, Lithgow twice) and Coonabarabran and eventual Grand Finalists Orange saw the senior team level fourth with Coonabarabran with one home and away match remaining. Despite tihe long trip to Coonabarabran, the side held a good lead at three-quarter time in a fiery encounter. A strong finish by the home side gave them the win and a semfinal spot with Cowra’s poor kicking not helping: final score 12-9-81 to 7-17-59.
In Under 17’s, 7 wins again left them only behind Parkes at the completion of the home and away series. Along the way, there was a 265 points to nil thrashing of Dubbo and a 232 points to 6 hiding to Orange a fortnight later. Parkes proved to be too strong on four occasions winning 99-8, 76-42, 116-0 and 171-16. Obvious favourite in the second semifinal, Parkes ran out easy winners by 92 points. Cowra progressed to the Grand Final though, easily accounting for Coonabarabran in the Preliminary Final, but despite performing better lost once again to Parkes in the decider held at Cowra, 12-15-87 to 4-2-26.
Cowra’s Jon Watson again won the Under 17 CWAFL Best and Fairest award to become the only player to do so, the third time in five years the award had gone to a Cowra player. Also of note was Steve Richardson reaching 100 games for the club.
First Grade: Wins 5 Losses 7 Position 5th
100 Club games: Steve Richardson
First Grade: Wins 2 Draws 1 Losses 9 Position 5th
100 First Grade games: Steve Richardson
100 Club games: Jeff Falconer, Robert Wright
The biggest change to the CWAFL competition for 1991 was Parkes’ departure to the Northern Riverina League, resulting in a six club format, although at one stage the Orange club was hopeful of fielding two teams. The Peter’s Cup competition, to involve the Under 17’s as well this year, was to precede the season-proper where three full rounds were to be played. The club appointed Tom Downing to coach the seniors, with Geoff Day to assist, while Robert Wright took on the Under 17’s job, all three without prior coaching experience. From the 1990 side, Steve Richardson was out through injury, while Andrew Jolliffe, Jeff Falconer, Geoff Siegert and Brad Boyd didn’ t play; added to this were early season injuries to Nelson White, Kevin Siegert, Will Bunt and former Under 17 Brett Gray. New to the side were ex-juniors Rod Upton, Gary Bourke and Peter Thomas, and new players Steve Lange, Scott Grocke, Craig Bush, Graham Bartlett, Robert Wright and Pat Grogan.
The Blues celebrated 10 seasons since their foundation late in the year, with the major highlight being the first Life Memberships awarded to Graeme Clements and Trevor Sanford for their 10 year of efforts for the club.
First Grade: Wins 5 Losses 11 Position 4th
100 First Grade games: Geoff Day, Brian Harding
50 First Grade games: Mick Boyd, Robert Wright
100 Club games: Brian Harding, Tom Downing, Geoff Day, Graeme Clements
The 1992 season opened with both Coonabarabran and Lithgow withdrawing from the First Grade competition, leaving just the four teams in the senior grade - Bathurst, Cowra, Dubbo and Orange. Graeme ‘Nudge’ Bartlett took over the First Grade coaching duties. David Finnimore, Will Bunt, Mal Clements, Steven Lees, David Tysoe, Lachlan Newham all made the step from the junior grade, while Andrew Jolliffe made a welcome return to the club.
The Reserve Grade competition was re-introduced but in a strange move, the Under 17s competition was dropped. Out of necessity, the Blues were forced to play young players in Reserves but it did give valuable senior experience to players like Tom Devlin and Frank Bright.
Cowra struggled throughout the season, losing every game. Their closest result was an 11 point loss in the opening round against Dubbo. The side was only able to muster 56 goals for the entire season, a new record low.
Despite this, the team made the semifinal on account of there being just four teams, but were eliminated in the first week losing to the Demons by 49 points.
In rep footy, Steve Lange, Geoff Day, Andrew Jolliffe, Graeme Bartlett and Mick Manning were all selected for the CWAFL team which was coached by Ken McMurtrie.
Mick Boyd won his third consecutive Best and Fairest tying with Mick Manning, a new record for the club, while in Reserve Grade Trevor Sanford won the medal ahead of a young Frank Bright.
Through the season, Tom Downing notched his 100th game in First Grade and Nelson White reached 100 club games.
First Grade: Wins 0 Losses 13 Position 4th
100 First Grade games: Tom Downing
50 First Grade games: Mick Manning
100 Club games: Nelson White
After taking the Under 17s to a Premiership in 1991, Robert Wright had his first crack at senior coaching in 1993, while he and John Sullivan were joint coaches of Reserve Grade.
Dual Premiership player Jim Inglis made a welcome return to the team, along with Kevin Siegert. Key forward Jason Norris arrived in town, while junior players Tom Devlin, Richard Blair and Brad Graham stepped up. However, Steve Lange and Graeme Bartlett were losses, as well as long-time player Tom Downing (retired), and juniors Mal Clements, Steve Lees, Darren Hughes and David Tysoe.
With just 8 wins in 3 seasons and a drought of player numbers, the club looked further afield in an attempt to stay afloat. A local sponsor had contacts in the Northern Territory Football League and was able to secure Darwin players Kenny Niki, David Brown and Nathan Sariago.
They didn’t make an instant impact, with a second round 127 point mauling by the Orange Tigers continuing a 17 game losing streak, but a hard-fought 8 point win over Dubbo in round 3 gave the Blues added confidence.
The 208 point loss, the club’s biggest, to Bathurst the following week was against a heavily-depleted Cowra side with most players attending a wedding, but the balance of the season saw closer results culminating in another win over Dubbo and an upset over Orange with Jason Norris bagging 8 goals just before the finals started.
The arrival late in the season of Bernard Niki, Kenny’s brother was another turning point with his skills in just a handful of matches earning him enough umpire votes to win the Clements medal for best player in the League. In fact, Boofy only ever played 7 games for the club.
Fourth spot in the home and away series earned Cowra a semifinal trip to Dubbo, always a hard ask. However, the Blues came from behind for a memorable 23 point win to make their first-ever Preliminary Final.
Cowra began well against Orange, leading at halftime in a close, low-scoring contest. If ever one player was the difference between two teams it was …. Ward in the third term with 4 goals that broke the back of the Blues. Cowra finished strongly but couldn’t bridge the gap and bowed out with a disappointing 8 point loss in Nelson White’s 100th game in the top grade.
Bathurst went on to record their first flag a week later against the Tigers.
The club vote count for Best and Fairest player has always been decided using 3 envelopes on a 3-2-1 basis, and whereas the previous two years had seen rare ties, amazingly the 2003 award was split four ways with Kenny Niki, David Brown, Nathan Sariago and Mick Boyd all sharing the honour.
First Grade: Wins 4 Losses 10 Position 3rd
100 First Grade games: Nelson White
50 First Grade games: Chris Gorham, Mark Johnson, Steve Boyd
100 Club games: Trevor Sanford, Chris Gorham, Kevin Siegert, Craig Thatcher