Former Rover great returns for heritage day

By Ben Martin, Colac Herald

Otway Districts Football Netball Club will honour the former club with a heritage day at Gellibrand tomorrow, with the club to wear the Rovers’ old green jumpers with a gold V.

The Rovers, who played at Beech Forest’s Ditchley Park, spent 23 years in the Colac district league before merging with Gellibrand to form Otway Districts in 1982.

Winchcomb said the jumpers brought back fond memories of his time playing on the ridge.

“I started playing football when I was 10 at Otway Rovers when I was living at Johanna,” he said.

“I played there until we sold the farm in the late ‘70s when I was 19.

“The whole district, every family, every farmer just got right behind the Rovers up there, they all followed the football.

“You played in snow, in sleet, mud.

“It was tough going up there on the ridge, but I remember it fondly.”

Winchcomb said there was plenty of talent to come out of the Rovers over the years, including Ivor Hider who won three league medals in 1960, ‘63 and ‘67.

Other league medallists from the club were John McDonald, Ken Speight and Neil Carr.

“They had some really fantastic players like Ivor Hider and Neil Hider, Doug Parker, Ron Cunnington who’s Ben Cunnington’s father, I played with Brian Brown who is Jonathan Brown’s dad, his cousins
Bill, Paul and Rex Brown were all good footballers too,” Winchcomb said.

“Ivor was one of the best players I’d ever seen,” he said.

“There were some good footballers to come out of the club, unfortunately they just didn’t have enough all at the same time.”

The club had its fair share of success, playing in a whopping 10 grand finals and winning four flags in a 12-year span between ‘57 and 1968.

“My brother-in-law Bill McCann, he coached when he was out of teachers’ college,” Winchcomb said.

“He went to Lavers Hill to teach, he coached in the late ‘60s and they won it in ‘68.

“But they were struggling for numbers a bit and that’s why they started amalgamating with other clubs.”

Winchcomb, who also spent time with Irrewarra, Colac Imperials and Otway Districts, said it was special to see the green and gold uniforms return.

“I’ve always said they’re the nicest colours in football,” he said.

“Unfortunately we didn’t stick with them.”