Recently, whilst searching through the Archives, I encountered an interesting old trophy.
It was engraved “Wagga Rugby League – Junior Competition” and “Presented by Students and Officers of the Wagga Experiment Farm Season 1912”.
The first recipients were Wagga (II) in 1912. No further winners were listed until 1928, when Magpies won the cup, with Turvey Park the last addition in 1968.
This got me wondering as to the history of the trophy.
While the cup carries the words “Rugby League”, it was initially awarded to the reserve grade premiers of the Wagga Rugby Union competition.
Originally known as the Farm Cup, the trophy was contested annually, however, if one team won the competition two years running, then they retained it permanently.
As it happened, the Wagga (II) team completed such a feat during the cup’s first two years of existence, which could explain the gap between 1912 and 1928.
Well known Wagga stock and station agent, Richard Heydon Blake, was captain of the Wagga (II) team in 1913.
Mr Blake apparently retained the cup until 1924 when he donated it – to be awarded annually to the premiers of the B grade Rugby League competition.
Early competing teams included: Old Town, Newtown, Aloysians, Wagga, Kapooka, Borambola, Old Boys, Experiment Farm, North Wagga, Kangaroos, Magpies, Coolamon, Forest Hill, Waratahs, High School, Postal, C.Y.M., Banks, Collingullie, Junee and Badgers.
Winning teams actually listed on the trophy are as follows:
- 1912 Wagga II
- 1928 Magpies
- 1935 Magpies
- 1936 Magpies
- 1937 Kangaroos
- 1938 Kangaroos
- 1939 Kangaroos
- 1940 Kangaroos
- 1946 South Wagga
- 1947 South Wagga
- 1948 Teachers’ College
- 1949 Magpies
- 1952 C.Y.M.
- 1953 Kangaroos
- 1964 Kangaroos
- 1965 Kangaroos
- 1967 Gundagai
- 1968 Turvey Park
In 1954 the cup was transferred to the under 16 competition and was eventually replaced by the Sullivan Cup in 1971.
The last team to win the Blake Cup was the Gundagai under 16 team, who defeated Wagga Magpies 15-0 in the 1970 Murrumbidgee Rugby League Grand Final.
Prominent local footballer Peter McAlister, who was a member of Gundagai’s 1970 team, was still in possession of the cup as late as 1990.