Robert Wright retained the First Grade coaching position while Steve Boyd took the reins of Reserve Grade. Major losses for the team were Mick Boyd, Kevin Siegert, Mark Johnson, Jason Norris, along with Darwin players Nathan Sariago and Bernard Niki. Gains included ex-junior players Jeremy Ryan from injury, and David Tysoe, Jon Watson, Glenn Crawley and Mark Siegert, while a young Frank Bright played 7 senior games. The team was further bolstered by NT players Ron Roe and Micky Peckham, although ruckman Bobby Ross who made an immediate impact returned home early in the season. A pacy Keyran Gibb was another welcome inclusion.
Ron Roe had a memorable start kicking 14 goals in his first game, as the Blues opened the season with a big win over Dubbo. Further wins over Orange and Bathurst gave the Blues their best start in many seasons to lead the competition, but only 2 further victories through the next 9 games saw them fall back to earth and fourth position at finals time.
Late July in a snow-swept Bathurst is never the warmest of places with the Darwin lads suffering the most. With the Eagles well in front, the mercy rule was applied early in the final term.
Another difficult semifinal trip to Dubbo in Robert Wright’s 100th First Grade game brought disappointment as the Demons outlasted the Blues by 17 points.
The Blues again fared well in the League awards with Micky Peckham’s outstanding season earning him the Clements medal, only the second time awarded to a Cowra player, while Ron Roe was leading goalkicker.
First Grade: Wins 7 Losses 9 Position 4th
100 First Grade games: Robert Wright
50 First Grade games: Matt Devlin, Jeremy Ryan
150 Club games: Robert Wright
100 Club games: Matt Devlin, Jeremy Ryan
Rob Wright had his third stint as coach in 1995. The Blues were without NT players Ron Roe, David Brown, Kenny Niki and Micky Peckham, and had also lost Keyran Gibb, Mark Siegert, Jon Watson, Jim Inglis and David Finnimore. Nelson White returned for another season, while ex-juniors Craig Reid and Gavin Hoy returned, the former introducing future 200-gamer Kim Reid to the club.
Coonabarabran re-entered the competition in 1995 along with the newly-formed CSU Bulldogs from Bathurst.
The Blues started the season in emphatic style, beating Coonabarabran by 102 points at home. For the record, Steve Boyd (yes, Steve Boyd) kicked 7 goals in the big win.
Despite the start, there were only a few highlights for the remainder of the season with Cowra regularly thrashed by the stronger clubs Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange. The side suffered 100+ losses on no less than 9 occasions, a new record for the club.
Nevertheless, further wins over Coona and a couple of victories against CSU, including a top four play-off in the final round, allowed the Blues another semifinal clash with Dubbo. The Demons were again too strong with a 45 point result to leave Cowra in fourth spot.
Russell Manning won the Clowry medal in Under 16s.
First Grade: Wins 5 Losses 11 Position 4th
150 First Grade games: Geoff Day
100 First Grade games: Jeff Falconer
150 Club games: Geoff Day
100 Club games: Tom Devlin
Long time player Mick Manning took over as coach for the 1996 season, with Robert Wright easing up a bit as Reserve Grade coach.
Notable inclusions for the season included new players Brendan Bedford and Richard Leary both to play big roles with the club in future seasons. A young David Manning also had his first taste of senior football.
There wasn’t a lot of joy for the club as the senior team lost its first 11 matches by an average of around 90 points, the closest results being a 48 point deficit to Orange and 35 points to Dubbo.
The side rallied in the last home and away game with a turnaround against CSU, a big 53 point victory ending a 12 game losing streak, and leading to a few end of season celebrations.
First Grade: Wins 1 Losses 11 Position 5th
50 First Grade games: Tom Devlin, David Tysoe
100 Club games: Tony Graham, Mick Manning
After a 6 year stint in the NRFL, Parkes decided to return to the CWAFL for the 1997 season. The League had re-thought its junior policy and introduced an Under 16 competition.
For the Blues, Robert Wright was appointed senior coach, Ken McMurtrie took on the Reserve Grade job and both shared the Under 16s position.
The Under 16 competition paid immediate dividends attracting a number of juniors to the club as well as giving quite a few who had previously played Reserve Grade the opportunity to play against others their own age.
1997 was another season where wins were few and far between. Bathurst, Orange and Parkes proved way too strong, although the Blues did get within 2 goals of the Panthers mid-season.
Cowra enjoyed solid wins over Dubbo and CSU, before narrow losses to both at the end of the year left them out of the semifinals.
After not winning a flag for the opening 11 seasons, 1997 saw the Bathurst team notch their 5th straight, a record not likely to be surpassed.
In Under 16s, the Blues fared much better with a narrow Grand Final loss to Parkes, disappointing after a strong season.
What the re-introduction of a junior competition did do was effectively a kiss of life for the Cowra club. The club fielded 58 players in Under 16s in 1997 including the likes of Mick McLeish, David Manning, Brendan Reid, Marc Hyland, Frank Bright, Michael McMurtrie, Josh Galvin, David McMurtrie, Damian Wallace, Shaun Cox, Andrew Falconer, Damien Green, Jason Cox, Brad Green, Ray Bridge, Kenny Webb, Nathan Reed, Josh Platt, Russell Manning, Jason Stopps, Aaron Newton and Jamie O’Brien, all of whom went on to play plenty of footy both junior and senior for the club. 10 seasons later, no less than 6 were involved in the 2006 First Grade Premiership team.
First Grade: Wins 3 Losses 12 Position 5th
100 First Grade games: Mick Manning, Chris Gorham
50 First Grade games: Frank Bright
150 Club games: Chris Gorham
100 Club games: Frank Bright
For the 1998 season, ex-junior and senior Premiership player Ross Butcher was senior coach, Brendan Bedford was Reserves coach and Ken McMurtrie again looked after the Under 16s.
The seniors were fortunate to pick up Nigel Hall, Lee Haselgrove and Keith Hart all of who contributed well through the season. The Blues looked further afield again to secure players with a recruitment drive around the district. The stop at Young proved fruitful with the signing of Steve Corkery, Phil Charles and Paul Treloar, the latter destined to play over 100 games for the club, and with his three boys in juniors, a combined total of closer to 250 games.
Major losses were former juniors Frank Bright, David Tysoe and Wayne Reid.
The Kelso Crows entered a team in the 1997 competition, with the Blues able to record a comfortable win over them in the second match of the season in early May.
What the club didn’t know was they team wouldn’t record another win until May 2001, a losing streak of 40 matches.
The ‘98 team battled on gamely losing to Orange by 24, Dubbo by 19 and 11, Kelso by 15, Parkes by 33, and CSU by 2 in the last round.
Again it was the Under 16s that got the results on the board, entering another finals campaign. Again it was Parkes to eliminate them in the Preliminary Final, with the Kelso side winning the flag in their only season.
First Grade: Wins 1 Losses 11 Position 6th
150 First Grade games: Robert Wright
50 First Grade games: Kim Reid
200 Club games: Robert Wright, Geoff Day
150 Club games: Tom Devlin
Brendan Bedford took on the job as senior coach, with Kim and Craig Reid Reserve Grade coaches, and Ken McMurtrie coach of Under 16s.
The likes of Nigel Hall, Lee Haselgrove and Keith Hart moved on, along with 200 gamer Robert Wright, the latter certainly leaving his mark on the club.
Russell Manning and Andrew Falconer made their senior debuts, along with Matt Cusack another former junior, while twins Allan and Mick McVey began what would be long careers with the club.
The senior team could manage just 47 goals in 15 games, the opposition averaging close to 160 points a game, the average losing margin was 135 points. In the final 4 games of the season, Cowra scored just 9 goals while conceding near-on 700 points...the light at the end of the tunnel was dim.
Nevertheless, the club was in good order, financially sound, good administration, plenty of social opportunities, good junior development.
The Under 16s again loomed as a Premiership contender, with again only Parkes looking likely to be a threat. As fate would have it, it was again the Panthers to eclipse the Blues at the last hurdle with a strong Grand Final performance.
First Grade: Wins 0 Losses 15 Position 6th
200 First Grade games: Geoff Day
50 First Grade games: Craig Reid
150 Club games: Jeremy Ryan
100 Club games: Steve Boyd, Craig Watmore, Craig Reid