Hastings League celebrates 100 years' competition with dedicated reunion round, Indigenous game

Who will it be?: The Hastings League plans a number of celebrations to mark its 100 years of competition. Who will lift the 2020 Centenary Trophy?
Who will it be?: The Hastings League plans a number of celebrations to mark its 100 years of competition. Who will lift the 2020 Centenary Trophy?

The Hastings League will celebrate its 100th year with all 2020 competition rounds highlighting current and former clubs.

Other plans include a dedicated reunion round in July and a stand-alone Indigenous representative side taking on a chairman's team.

However, the traditional Bain Cup competition is highly unlikely to go ahead.

The second longest, continuously named sporting competition in Australia was born in 1920 after clubs moved away from rugby union.

One of the foundation clubs - Beechwood Shamrocks - is among one of the fancied sides to lift this year's centenary trophy.

The addition of Harrington Hurricanes and a boost in female participation means there will be eight teams in the men's and six teams competing in the women's competitions.

Former president Geoff Connor says he remains hopeful of playing the Bain Cup "somewhere through the year".

"As the year goes on we may be able to run the (Bain Cup) competition somewhere," he said. "But it may be that we just can't run it.

"We had planned to invite all winning Bain Cup clubs back for the decider too.

"Our plans for the normal rounds will also continue to be monitored in case anything changes.

"Right now our plans include hosting a dedicated reunion round on July 25 when all teams are due to play at Lank Bain Sporting Complex.

"But we also plan to have celebrations during each round.

"An Indigenous round will be held on May 30 and this side will take on the chairman's team - this is a stand-alone weekend.

"Each week we plan to feature current clubs involved in the 2020 season.

Because of Beechwood's standing as a foundation club, they will be featured on that reunion round - along with the referees.

Geoff Connor

"Because of Beechwood's standing as a foundation club, they will be featured on that reunion round - along with the referees.

"This year will still feature the traditional Bush versus Beach - it is still on the calendar."

There are also plans to celebrate clubs that are no longer part of the competition. These include, Byabarra, West Wauchope, Macquarie Hotel, Port Boardriders, Lake Cathie Raiders and Tacking Point Storm.

Other plans include hosting a reunion dinner at the Wauchope Country Club on September 19.

Connor was confident clubs and former players, officials and supporters would embrace the centenary celebrations.

"The Hastings League means a lot to everyone that's been involved or still involved," he said.

"Some of our clubs have enriched the competition and its history - clubs like Comboyne and Long Flat are just so synonymous with the Hastings League.

"That's what makes this competition so special. Some of these teams have tremendous links - a real tribalism - about their involvement.

"In previous years, some of these sides were so cemented that the core playing squads were basically the same for a decade or more."

Connor, a life member of the Hastings League, played with the Byabarra Bulls side for a number of years before joining the Hastings League committee as a delegate in 1993.

He held a range of positions before taking over the top job from Pop Carney in 2002.

He remained in that role until just recently, handing over to Ray Hillard, the current chairman.

While the League is celebrating its centenary, some things will never change, according to Connor.

"We continually struggle for match officials," he admitted.

"If we can't attract more referees or linesmen that could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

If we can't attract more referees or linesmen that could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Geoff Connor

"This year we have eight men's teams and six ladies teams and that will test our depth."

As for who will lift the Hastings League Centenary Trophy on grand final day, Connor said there were several clubs looking likely winners.

He said Comboyne Tigers had improved on last year, while the Long Flat Dragons were consistently involved in the semi finals.

"Laurieton Hotel has been knocking on the door for the last two years and I'd expect them to go pretty well again," Connor said.

The 2020 season officially gets underway on April 18 and continues through to August 15. The grand final is scheduled for September 12 at Lank Bain Sporting Complex.

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