The Olympic Way, Part 2
Words and photographs by Josh Pinn
THE second stop on our journey along the Olympic Way is the small town of The Rock, a town so named because of the geological feature that dominates the surrounding plains. Originally known as The Hanging Rock until the overhang that gave its name collapsed in 1874, The Rock is also known by its Wiradjuri name, Kengal, which means ‘sloping hill.’
The Rock is undoubtedly south of ‘The Barassi Line,’ having no significant involvement in any football codes other than Aussie Rules, and its Aussie Rules history is long and rich. The Rock’s footy team merged with the team from neighbouring town Yerong Creek in 1962 to form the Rock-Yerong Creek Magpies (TRYC). Before that both The Rock and Yerong Creek had their fair share of on-field success in the various incarnations of district footy. Since the merger TRYC have won eight premierships in what is now the Farrer Football League, more than any other club.
The local footy ground is officially known as The Rock Recreation Ground, but is more commonly known to those in the local footy community as Victoria Park – a nod to the club being known as The Magpies. The view from the scoreboard side of the ground takes in The Rock itself in all its glory. A more picturesque setting is hard to find in the local area.
The Victoria Park scoreboard is a traditional elevated corrugated iron affair, named in honour of Ron Chaplin. Ron has been involved with the club for more than 65 years, beginning as a player before the merger with Yerong Creek. Since that time he has performed duties from rubbing down players to waving the flags as goal umpire. For more than 35 years the scoreboard has been his domain, where he can voice his opinion on the game in front of him for everyone around to hear. Ron was given the AFL Merit Award NSW/ACT in 2012 for his long service to Australian football.
It’s hard to imagine small town footy clubs without chaps like Ron Chaplin. Certainly, there are some in less economically stable areas that have been known to fold without, and even with, dedicated volunteers like him. They are the lifeblood go the community.
Next stop on The Olympic Way will be the quieter partner of the TRYC alliance, Yerong Creek.