Doug Williams reflects on his time as Tallangatta and District Football League president as a period of immense change.
From 1973-83 Williams, with the help of secretary Sandy Thomas, helped establish two extra football grades, shifted netball to be held on Saturdays, introduced a league executive, new interchange rules and the formation of Sandy Creek as the finals ground we all know it to be today.
But his passion and leadership began well before that decade, attending his first delegates meeting for Granya when he was 17.
Doug and his wife Ena, who are both life members of the league alongside son Ross, admit the job led to some interesting and enjoyable times.
"Back in those days the league was known as the head hunters league," Williams said.
"There was a few snipers in it and some were going up in front of the tribunal and getting let off.
"That's when we got four coppers and a solicitor, who had a very abrasive tongue, and within 12 months the league was cleaned up. They were frightened to go up before them.
"The delegates meetings could get pretty heated.
"I bought a box of king browns and invited everyone to stop down the road and have a beer on the way home.
"People who disliked each other at the meetings came and had a drink. It helped bring the league together. We lit a fire and discussed the future."
"They got to know each other socially," Ena said.
"There was a lot of things decided at that tree on Bryants Gap Road."
One of the decisions from the era was to make Sandy Creek a league ground and destination for all finals.
"At every delegates meeting the thing that would take the most time debating was where we would play finals," Williams said.
"It usually ended up at Sandy Creek because you could have two inches of rain over night and have a dry ball the next morning. Everything was going for it.
"When Kiewa and Sandy Creek amalgamated they'd play four games here and five games there and reverse the next year. People got sick of carting their gear from one ground to another.
"I said to Sandy (Thomas) we'll make it a league ground and try to get the league to put money into it so we can put all of these amenities here.
"Now you can water the ground and you don't have to rely on the Gods, so the ground is always perfect for finals.
"That's why they call it the MCG of the bush."
Ena admits the facilities are vastly better to when they started out.
"We started off with Doug inviting people down for a cup of tea because we wanted to get some interest in the league," she said.
"I had a card table and bought some hot water down in a thermos and had some scones and cakes.
"We had a tent and then advanced to a caravan.
"Once this building was built and we got a room, we thought we were made."
A further decision was made to have clubs take it in turns to cater in the canteen for each finals day that was played, with clubs keeping the profits.
The pair agreed this has been one of the best things for the league in helping clubs financially.
While Williams admits it's a shame there will be no crowds flocking to Sandy Creek this year due to COVID-19, he said he has plenty of grand final memories.
A period of hosting Melbourne umpires for finals after the AFL grand final particularly stands out.
"They'd go into the rooms beforehand and they'd remember every players name out there," he said.
"One final there was a fair bit of feeling between Tallangatta and Mitta and someone had been king hit a couple of weeks before.
"Johnnysaid to Jimmy, 'you'd want to be careful, there's a fair bit of feeling out there'.
"Ahh', he said, 'I could sit in the middle with an armchair and umpire it.'
"There was five reports before the game started.
"Johnny and I went out there at quarter time and he was shaking."
The interchange rule remains one of Williams best accomplishments in setting the league a part form the rest.
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"In the earlier days your 19th and 20th (player) would sit there all day and not get a run.
"If someone was injured they'd keep them out there because once they came off, they couldn't go back on.
"I think that was one of the best things that happened to footy."
Interleague football has also been a highlight for Doug and Ena over the years, seeing them travel and host various leagues.
While interleague appears to be a concept of the past now, Williams still holds it in high regard.
"We were pretty successful in interleague in those days because we made it compulsory in that if you were picked, you played," he said.
"And if they didn't play and wanted a holiday, I was extra generous and gave them another holiday the next week."
Last year Williams helped celebrate 50 years since Kiewa and Sandy Creek merged to become one entity.
Williams had found himself at Sandy Creek after a stint at Wodonga and took on the role of club president.
He held the top position for the amalgamated club for a year before taking on the league.
Two broken legs saw his playing days come to an end, but having a tough exterior, Williams said he wasn't afraid to go in hard.
"I remember playing with Bullioh one day and I'd marked the ball and this bloke put his arm around my neck and drove my head into the ground and was whacking me as I hit the ground," he said.
"Half stupid I got up and went after him, but he'd gone.
"He'd put my neck out of joint. It put me in hospital and we were playing the top team the next Saturday and I didn't look like getting out.
"The secretary and president of Bullioh came in and said, 'look, I know a good chiropractor mate, I can get you out of here. I've already booked him.'
"I went in and they whacked my neck back in. A couple of days later I played.
"I was a bit stiff, but I still played."
He admits football is a lot quicker today.
"When I first started you had to drop kick or stab pass and I was a bugger of a kick," he said.
"I could get the ball but delivering it was my problem.
"I'd love to be playing now with the drop punt, it would make things a lot easier."
Williams identifies Norm Webb, Hughie Giltrap, David Sutherland and Bill O'Connellas some of the best footballers he's come across in the league over the years.
However, he admits that list could go on and on.
Williams years of hard work and dedication to football have seen him awarded a VCFL long service medal.
While he recognises it was hard to please everyone, he loved the job all the same.
"If I came home from footy and someone hadn't of given me a mouthful or had a swing at me I had a guilty complex, I can't be doing enough," he said.
The Williams duo ran a farm while also running the football league, with daughters Nerida and Leanne helping out at home alongside brother Ross.
While the couple have taken a step back from their duties now, Ena still has her famous scones ready each year and you can find Doug watching the footy from the sidelines on a Saturday.
Both look back on all that they and the league have achieved fondly during that era of change.
Both clubs and players have come and gone, but the Williams have remained eager supporters of Kiewa- Sandy Creek and the Tallangatta and District league.
"You meet some very nice people," Ena said.
"We've always enjoyed it."
Doug agreed the league had served him well over the years.
"I've always been very proud of the Tallangatta league," he said.