Club built on a love of footy

THE term “powerhouse” is one thrown around pretty loosely in country footy these days.

But Mitta United is exactly that.

Premierships are the unequivocal marker of success in sport and, a triumvirate of Upper Murray league teams excepted, the Mountain Men are unrivalled locally.

Albury has won 18 flags in the Ovens and Murray while Walla’s record of 13 Hume league crowns remains intact for now.

The Mountain Men have won 21 in 60 years, a record only bettered by Corryong (31), Cudgewa (28) and Federal (26) in the Upper Murray league.

And it’s that milestone the club will commemorate on Saturday when it holds its 60-year reunion at Mitta when the club hosts struggling Rutherglen.

With such a fearsome record, it’s no surprise that Mitta United is the only club in the Tallangatta league to win four flags in a row.

Its run of success from 2004 to 2007 is — with the exception of Bullioh in the afore-mentioned Upper Murray league — unparalleled in modern Border football circles.

And the man who helped finish off that dynasty, present coach Phil Packer, said the reason for that success was a simple one.

“Players come here for that exact reason,” Packer said.

“Success. The club and its people expect it. Everyone who plays here feels that expectation.

“But nobody shies away from it.

“It’s a club based around a great community that loves its footy.”

The community may love its footy but that’s where the love ends, according to some.

“Other teams seem to hate us, we thrive on that,” three-time Barton trophy winner Hughie Giltrap once told club author John Scales.

And although Packer admits the Mountain Men leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of victory, he said the club, whose history book was entitled The Team Most Feared liked to think it made up for its on-field ruthlessness with its friendliness off it.

“Everyone knows what they’re in for when they come up and play us here but the great thing about the Tallangatta league is the social side of it all,” he said.

“We’re fierce at the battle but we’re first at the bar when we play other clubs.

“We find that balance between working hard on the track and enjoying the beers off it.”

The club didn’t take too long to find that “balance”, either, winning a premiership in its first year in the Tallangatta league.

Up until recently, though, it was mainly just the footballers dominating TDFL circles.

However, the club’s A and B-grade netball teams finally joined the party last year with premiership success for the first time in 31 years.