Goolagong Parties Like its 1999 for Terrigal-Avoca Panthers

By Dr Rodney Gillett

The sudden appearance of gun forward Maurice Goolagong for Terrigal-Avoca half-way through the 2nd quarter of the 1999 grand final of the Central Coast AFL stunned both the crowd and the Killarney Vale Bombers at Wyong’s Don Small Oval.

The competition leading goal-kicker, ostensibly out for the season with a fractured wrist, had driven through the night from Swan Hill on the Victorian border where he had attended his father’s 50th birthday party, leaving the party at 2am.

“I started getting changed into my football gear when we came over the Mooney Mooney Bridge” Maurice told me in an interview with this piece.

“I had taken the plaster off my wrist on the Thursday night and it felt good so I called the coach, Dean Wall, to tell him I could play, if he wanted me. He said yep, you’re in!”.

The goalkicking machine had booted 70 goals to top the 2GO league goalkicking that season for Terrigal after transferring from the Peninsula Swans, better known as Woy Woy.

Killarney Vale led at half-time of the 1999 grand final by two points, but the arrival of their spearhead propelled them into action and the Panthers went onto win by 64 points with Maurice booting five goals in the second half.

Maurice Goolagong carved out a sensational career in football on the Central Coast after having started out at Barellan in the South West juniors as a youngster, then moving to North Wagga in the Farrer league under the legendary Dick Carey, where he played centre half back.

After moving to Sydney to take up an apprenticeship as a butcher he heeded the call from an uncle to play on the central coast initially with Woy Woy, and then at Terrigal Avoca where he has left an indelible legacy.

He topped the league goalkicking in the Central Coast AFL twice, in 1999 with 70 and 115 goals for Woy Woy in 1997.

Upon the merging of the Newcastle and Central Coast competitions in 2000 to become the Black Diamond League, Maurice just kept kicking more and more goals!

He was the competition leading goalkicker from 2000-2005 topping the century four times, and then again in 2011 after stints with St George in the Sydney AFL and Tullibigeal in the Northern Riverina.

His highest tally was 135 in 2001 when he kicked an amazing 25 goals in the last home-and-away game of the season to edge out Killarney Vale’s Simon Cosser who led by 12 goals and kicked ten in the final game only to fail by 3 goals to snare the award from Maurice.

These remain the record number of goals for a season and for a game in the merged competition.

The league goalkicking award is named in his honour.

All together Maurice played over 300 games on the central coast and kicked more than 1500 goals, giving him a “Plugger-like” average of over 5 goals per game!

There have many highlights to the bustling forward’s career including premierships for Terrigal-Avoca in 1999 and 2000 but special reference is made to the historic country championship win in Wagga in 2006 when the Black Diamond representative team beat the best leagues from southern NSW.

The visitors met the powerful Riverina Football League in the decider. At half-time the visitors had not kicked a goal to the RFL’s five goals. They finally scored a major in the third quarter but still trailed by 30 points. In a barn-storming finish the BDL got up to win by a point. Maurice kicked four goals in the thrilling final quarter.

“Our coach Dean Wall believed in us, he knew our styles of play and we just gelled, we clicked at the right time”, Maurice recalled.

When asked about accuracy in front of goal given that he kicked 25.3 in that record haul in a single match and 122.12 in season 2003, Maurice attributed credit to his junior coaches at Barellan, Col Male and Max Jamieson.

“They taught me how to kick, and then I used to practice goal-kicking from different angles after school every day. We lived just across the road from the Sportsground”.

Maurice’s beloved Terrigal-Avoca will meet Newcastle City in this Saturday’s grand final of the Hunter Central Coast AFL at Killarney Vale. He will be there cheering them on and hoping to again party like its 1999.