The weather gods certainly smiled on Tocumwal over the Easter weekend with warm, fine weather being experienced for the four-day holiday.
Visitors flocked to the town, thanking their lucky stars they had chosen Tocumwal for their autumn break rather than going south.
As soon as they arrived our visitors were involved in what was going on with the hotels and eating houses, and the Tocumwal Golf and Bowls Club feeling the increase in numbers.
Our beaches were jam packed with motorhomes, caravans and many tents, and the motels and bed and breakfasts were at capacity as people arrived to make the most of our sunshine.
And our visitors were full-on in their enjoyment of what we had on offer.
On Good Friday the Football and Netball Club had one of their best crowds for a long time and Tocumwal put on a good show, winning in most grades of both sports.
The Cobram Art Society, with a smaller than usual showing of exhibitors, welcomed good crowds into the Tocumwal Memorial Hall to view their artistic efforts, and as the sun went down the folk came out to party on.
The pubs and club were rocking, as were the eateries in Deniliquin Rd.
Saturday dawned clear and warm and the big Flexible Clippers cruised into Anzac Avenue.
Fourteen of these beautiful old ladies made the trip to Tocumwal to mark the Easter outing for the club.
The buses were amazing and their owners were a hive of information and a great bunch of friendly people with amazing stories about how they came to own their clippers.
These buses were originally used by the Pioneer bus lines and the body work was made by Ansair, in Melbourne.
Some clippers were fully restored and some were going through the process to become travelling homes.
All the owners agreed that it’s the motor that gets the first of the care and the other renovations any time later.
One gentleman described his outfit as his ‘big boy’s toy’.
The Clipper crews, along with one of the biggest crowds seen lately at the Farmers Market, enjoyed the goods on offer, and the artisan baker was sold out by 10.30am (not bad for an hour stint).
The baker was so busy with customers that market manager Kerry needed to lend a hand to stop the line getting longer. But that’s the way we are in Tocumwal — getting in and lending a hand when needed.
And, of course, the drawcard of the day was the Tocumwal races.
Each year the crowd gets bigger as the popularity of the event becomes known.
Saturday’s attendance broke all previous records, according to long-time resident and prime race goer Murray Haynes.
As your correspondent went out of town via Racecourse Road about 1pm there was a long line of cars waiting to get into the track. On the way back, half an hour later, the line had not diminished but rather increased.
One pleasing sight noted on Sunday morning was that there were quite a few cars left at the track with many opting to take the bus or ride home with friends, thus taking the responsible option. Well done.
Saturday evening was a repeat of Friday with all pubs, the club and eateries doing a roaring trade, and then came Easter Sunday and the huge market.
Stretching as far as the Edward Hillson Bridge and round the corner, up to the Tree of Knowledge, there were in excess of 220 stalls.
And this time people attending the market realised there was a town beyond Deniliquin Rd and Anzac Avenue, with traders in Deniliquin St enjoying increased patronage from market goers and the rodeo crowd.
The rodeo that night was well attended with vehicles parked as far back as the cemetery on Barooga Road and back past the preschool.
Monday was a much quieter day with people packing up and almost all of the attractions finished, apart from the Art Show which had soldiered on over the four days in a mighty effort to help entertain our visitors and to show and sell their talents.
Tocumwal Memorial Hall is lucky to have this art group of out-of-towners use this beautiful building for this purpose.
In the lead up to the Tocumwal Football and Netball Club 1967 reunion, Tocumwal Tells will be publishing profiles of past greats.
This week is Keith Thompson.
Keith ‘Butch’ Thompson arrived at Tocumwal at the end of the 1956 season.
He was transferred in his job with the NSW Railways and was head clerk at the Tocumwal Railway station, which was then a busy rail junction between NSW and Victoria.
Keith tells the story that he didn’t start work for his first week as when he arrived Tocumwal was threatened with the 1956 floods and he spent his first week on the sandbags.
The talented footballer had played a starring role in Queanbeyan-Acton’s premiership in the Canberra League in 1956 and legend has it that he was actually transferred mid-year but the Queanbeyan president had some contacts high up in NSW Railways and was able to defer the transfer until the end of the season.
That year Tocumwal lost a tight grand final to Strathmerton by seven points.
Don ‘Doughy’ Macdermid, who played in the 1956 side, stated later that Keith Thompson cost Tocumwal a flag because if he had transferred when he should have, then he may have been the difference between winning and losing.
Unfortunately for Butch, the Bloods then had a period where they were at the bottom of the ladder.
Keith started as a ruck rover, then progressed to centre half back but finished his career as one of Tocumwal’s and the Murray League’s toughest and most respected full backs.
His partnership with back pocket Terry Hewitt was legendary and is still one of the best defensive pairings in Tocumwal’s history.
Butch was short sighted and relied on ‘Spurry’ to tell him where the ball was and to tell him the score, and because of this he played his full forwards very close (he was in touching distance all the time). His long 50 to 60 metre drop kicks from full back were an attacking weapon for Tocumwal.
Keith joined the committee and then was secretary for three years when the club recruited Don Whitten and climbed up the ladder.
Keith played in two losing grand finals (1965 and 1966) and then retired at 38 years of age due to a shoulder injury, but remained as a trainer and selector in the 1967 premiership.
Butch captained Tocumwal for several years and was a three time best and fairest winner (1957, 1958 and 1960), and was a regular representative for Murray League teams, being in the side that defeated St Kilda in 1960 and then keeping Hawthorn’s then VFL leading goal kicker John Peck to two goals as the Hawks narrowly defeated Murray League at Tocumwal in 1963.
Keith had played in Griffith’s first premiership in 1952 and won two best and fairests at the club as a ruckman and CHB, and in 1952 played at Narrandera in a South-West League team that played a VFL team made up of the players to just miss selection in the Victorian team that played in the Australian Carnival.
Keith was one of the best players against some of the biggest names in VFL football at the time, such as Lou Richards.
His brothers Norm and Jack ‘Jazbo’ Thompson were legends of Riverina football, and as they played for three different clubs they would often oppose each other and there was usually a fierce contest between them.
All three were good enough for the VFL but to play in Melbourne in the 1950s was not the life changing opportunity it is today.
In 1953 Keith was transferred to Queanbeyan, where he won three flags in four years and won two more best and fairests playing at centre half back.
He was runner-up in the Canberra League’s Mulrooney Medal for the best and fairest by one vote in 1954 after missing the last three matches due to his mother being ill and then dying.
After 11 years in Tocumwal, he moved back to Griffith in 1968 and was chairman of selectors in the Swans’ second premiership win that year and then coached the club’s under 16s and under 19s for several years before taking the reins as president for six years. He was also a selector for the South West League for many years.
Keith is a life member of all three clubs which is testament to his ability as a footballer, but also that he gave as much, if not more, off the field.
That he won seven best and fairests across three clubs also suggests he was a pretty handy footballer.