CLASSIC MATCH FOR PORT LINCOLN TOUCH!

first_imgPort Lincoln is a regional community where touch is surviving in the Australian rules dominated state of South Australia. Being 600km from their governing body (Touch SA) and with very little access to develop a higher level of playing standard, Port Lincoln is a real touch outpost. Touch was introduced to Port Lincoln nearly 20 years ago through the local high school, before disappearing for several years. Club contact Gavin Walding credits the touch revival in Port Lincoln to Peter Tokarski in the early 1990’s. With a regional population of 15,000 and the enormous variety of sports, touch is considered one of the area’s strong fringe sports. Participation has varied from 200-400 over the past few years, with a good number of those players being juniors. The winter season is a small competition, with just a few sides. One side consists of over 45’s while another is based around seven junior players. All of the competitions are mixed with participation of numbers being the goal. It is for this reason they allow seven players on the field per side. During summer a junior after-school competition is run with great support from Touch SA, local schools and teachers. While you may be reading this and thinking Port Lincoln sounds like many other normal regional touch associations, it’s time to think again. This is their ANZAC Day clash or Easter matches of the AFL or NRL…It’s called the Cummins Classic and it’s certainly becoming classic. This year July 29th is the date. Both sides will embark on a tense combined 140km bus trip to Cummins, to play up bush in a regular grudge match between two sworn enemies. For six or seven local Cummins players, this is the one match played on their home turf and local pride is also at stake. Gavin Walding believes the Cummins Classic, about to enter it’s second year under the official title, but having been played for over five years now, could well become a Port Lincoln touch institution. “The Cummins classic is a great night with some of the 300 odd locals wandering down to watch the mad buggers that throw the ball backwards to go forwards,” he says. “It is also a great opportunity for the genuine footy bus trip with many a foggy head in the morning.” The teams taking the field for this year’s Cummins Classic are The Masters and The Rik Rik’s. Peter Tokarski (the legend credited with Port Lincoln’s touch revival) leads the Masters, who are the usual collection of those continuing to defy both physics and age to take the field, with their oldest player being over 60. The Masters make up a large proportion of the SA 45’s & 50’s masters sides, who have competed since the 1999 Australian masters with various success. Their opponents for the past two years have been a group of players based around the United Yeelanna football club, whose home ground is around 90km from Port Lincoln. Many of the Rik Rik’s are ex-students of the Masters’ leader, Peter Tokarski. For this auspicious round a few ring-ins tend to appear, along with around 300 locals, who may not fully understand the rules, but love the intensity and the underlying fun of the game. “By the end of the Classic the locals are yelling & cheering along with the players, helped of course by the bar conveniently located next to the field,” Gavin Walding says. After the game the best player receives their medallion and the winners gloat in their short-lived glory. Players and spectators alike then adjourn to the pub across the road for a chance to catch up with friends before boarding the bus for the trip back home. Keep tuned for a full match report in following months. By Rachel Moylelast_img read more