Page 9 of 26
Most importantly, at the end of September, just a year after Independence, which made us a foreign country, an Australian team, led by Mr R.B.Hayes-Thompson from Western Australia came to play in PNG. The players were - Gary Gurney from SA.; Max Radford and Colin Rees from Vic.; Darryl Smith and umpire Terry Blake from NSW and Mike Bingham, Ross Shepherd and Bill Abrahams from Qld. Betty Radford, Jennny Smith and Di. Bingham were also in the party. There was controversy over the PNG teams selected to play Australia. The President, Bruce Jephcott, asked the Club delegates to be selectors. Noel Challis wrote to resign from the Association because he was not selected; Bruce did not accept his resignation. Noel claimed he had been picked to play in Australia (he was available to go) and was the best No.3. Maybe the selection was hasty, but no selectors are perfect, and Noel was a better player than Neil Latimer who was chosen as reserve. Two Port Moresby players, out of Irving, Robinson and Hearn were to play in a match there, along with D.Leahy, Simmons, Alexander and Duffield. One Port Moresby player was to be in the team to play the Test in Lae. The score for the match there was 15-5 to Australia. In Goroka, they played the Club team - score 33-13; and at the Tests in Lae the visitors also won comfortably, as expected. Terry Blake coached intensively at every stop. Colin Rees was the star of the play and competition at the Lae Show. He rode Dorothy Jephcott's (Dot was at school) good mare Yarran to win most of the jumping events, he also rode other Dumpu horses; and played polocrosse. Gary Gurney also helped with the Dumpu show team. Mr. Hayes-Thompson wrote a very flattering report about the whole tour and the PNG hospitality. Bruce, then Minister for Transport helped the team with their excessive luggage, they bought a large amount of artefacts including a full sized wooden crocodile! The Port Moresby President carried on the saga of the selections in a post-mortem letter to Bruce, apparently one or two of the Goroka players did not go to Moresby, and Neil Latimer did play. Noel Challis ended up playing in the Lae Test.
PNG Polocrosse continued to strengthen for the next eight years. The Australian and International President visited PNG as coach and umpire for the National Titles held at Dumpu in 1977. He was the first of the umpire/coaches to be invited officially. Max visited Lae and Goroka, giving each Club members basic coaching before coming to Dumpu where he coached Ramu players. At the Nationals, in early September, we had 66 players, 4 A Grade teams, including Port Moresby, 3 B Grade and 4 C Grade. Ramu won the A Grade, 18-8, the first of three wins against Goroka. The stockmen on Dumpu, Gusap and later Leron and the Lower Markham became keen players. The best were good horsemen with a good eye for the ball. Kimao, Mata, Kepis Morti and Waubi played with Bob Simmons and Les Russell from Gusap to win three titles in a row.
Throughout the year we had had a carnival at Mumun where Dan played for Ramu with Les. Russell, Grant and Margo Morton, Barb. and Dot. We won against Lae and Goroka; all with only available players including many new players. For Goroka at Munum were Arthur Jones, John Leahy, Neil Latimer, George Brugh, Doug Grainger, and Ken Godden; for Lae- Bruce D. Trevor Kennedy, Greg Jacobsen Umba and Mark Godlonton. There were a few funny incidents, Mark tipped Dan off his horse, and Dan chased him down the field on foot brandishing his racquet, not allowed in the rules. Neil got reprimanded for swearing at Barb for riding him off. Lae mostly adults- Sharon Bux, Doug Haigh, Scott Johnson, Mike Quinn, Cherie Haigh and Dennis Rime, defeated Ramu, half juniors - Sandi, Jamie Simmons, Grant J. Jan Jones, and governesses Gail and Rosemary. It was a fun carnival. We played Mixed Teams at subsequent carnivals at Dumpu, Goroka, and Lae. At the Nationals, Ramu won the Mixed and the B Grade.
In August Joe Alexander, John Robinson, Bob Simmons, Bob Hannon, Cliff Jurd and Les.Russell went to Muswellbrook to play in their Carnival. Darryl Smith lent them six horses, probably the best horses a PNG team were ever given. Bill Clift was reserve. They also played at Quirindi, where they won one match
The 2nd International Polocrosse Council meeting was held in April 1978, at Lake Taupo in New Zealand. The Leahys, Jephcotts, and Duffields went to Taupo, and enjoyed themselves. Again International Polocrosse rules were discussed at length and a format was developed.
At home the season started at Easter with a Dunhill sponsored social carnival at Goroka. Jock Nelson from Madang made his first appearance, as did Junior James Couchman who played with James Simmons and Amanda Reid in one section. Play moved to Dumpu in May. We played selected teams, not Club teams, to make the play as even as possible, and to help Lae Club who had to borrow horses all season due to the cattle tick outbreak. Graham Broadbent, who was visiting and coaching Goroka players, came to the Dumpu carnival. Another carnival was played at Dumpu in 19/8, at which the NT team played. In one game the NT players were lined up against Sandi, Barb and Dot Jephcott in one section with Bruce Jephcott umpiring. They gently demurred but they won easily. Ramu A team included Aitape before he went to Goroka Club, in the absence of Waubi. Ramu 1 defeated Goroka 1 and Ramu 2 defeated Lae1.