I used this page last year to predict Oberon would win the Group 10 premiership in a canter, going one better than the heart-breaking 23-22 loss to Orange CYMS in the 2017 decider.
Boldly claimed they’d win the Clayton Cup, too.
I essentially labelled them world-beaters.
What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, the Tigers didn’t win either. The mighty Oberon club only just made the finals after battling to get out of third gear for the majority of 2018.
Apologies, long-suffering Tigers fans.
So I’m not about to go ahead of make a litany of bold predictions again in 2019. I just won’t do it.
It’s my new year’s resolution: Don’t put the mocker on anyone.
And I’m not one for new year’s resolutions. I find them virtually impossible to uphold.
But, this one, in 2019, I plan on keeping.
There’s no way in the world I’m about to go ahead and say Orange Emus will win a fourth Blowes Clothing Cup title in six years, and I wouldn’t dare envisage writing ‘Matt Findlay kicks Emus to grand final glory with Matt Dunning-esque drop goal from near half-way’.
I’m not going to do it.
The crystal ball has been put away and in its place this year is a well, one I hope delivers me these stories in 2019.
LIONS ROAR, RHINOS RUMBLE
Some of the best games of rugby I’ve covered over the years involve the Orange City Lions.
Those teams in 2012 and 2013, they were tremendous. Pride Park was a fortress, they played expansive rugby, they defended brilliantly and they had a stack of characters – Sione Lafa'ou was the best.
Two undefeated major and minor premierships, an unbeaten run of 39 games. It’s an enviable record.
Season 2018 didn’t reach those same heights, though. Far from it, in fact.
One win. A throng of big losses. Something had to change. And it has.
Viv Passi has been unveiled as the Lions’ new coach in 2019, which is a huge step and a changing of the guard following Steve Hamson’s nine-year tenure at the helm of Orange City.
Passi’s appointment signals the start of a new era at Pride Park, one that should see the Lions roar back to life in the Central West Rugby Union this season.
And they won’t be the only ones.
The Dubbo Rhinos have long played second fiddle to cross-city rivals Roos, but in 2019 the best performing rugby club in the Macquarie Valley could well be in black and gold.
Hare Lavaka will ensure that.
Everywhere the great man goes, success follows, and after coming on board at the Rhinos for next season you can bank on the Dubbo club being one of the sides to watch in the New Holland Agriculture Cup.
LITTLEJOHN WINS BIG
Take out the 2016 Group 10 season where the Dragons stormed from fifth to make the grand final and ultimately sunk Orange CYMS on the final play of the game to steal the trophy, Mudgee’s been one of those sides that’s promised plenty but just hasn’t been able to take the next step.
There’s a big chance that changes in 2019.
The Dragons have landed former NRL half Jack Littlejohn as captain-coach for next season.
He’ll bring a stack of experience to Glen Willow after spending time at Manly and the Wests Tigers while also enjoying a stint in England in 2018.
A young half with exposure to top-line footy in charge of one of the most parochial bush footy clubs in the business – it’s a recipe for success and we’re hoping Mudgee sets the benchmark this year.
PANTHERS CONTINUE TO PURR
I love a streak.
And the Lithgow Panthers’ run of 17 men’s Premier League Hockey grand finals in 18 seasons must surely be considered one of the best stretches of sustained success this region has seen.
It’s up there with Orange’s run of over 20 straight State League netball crowns.
The Lithgow club has 12 titles next to its name during that time and there’s nothing to suggest a 13th won’t be added to the tally in 2019.
CARNIVAL OF CRICKET
Ahead of the 2019-20 summer something has to be done about the rep calendar, and how long it lasts.
There’s no way a five-month long Western Zone Premier League is attractive to be part of as players, or follow as supporters. Same goes for the Mitchell Cricket Council’s President’s Cup. It’s just too drawn out.
The answer? Carnivals. Bring them back. Rep competitions should be run and won on the same weekend. It’s that simple.
Make room for it on the calendar.
Women’s sport, particularly in the footy codes, continues to balloon. I can’t see that slowing down in 2019, either.
A beefed up Western Women’s Rugby League premiership will kick-off in February, while the hugely successful Westfund Ferguson Cup and CWAFL women’s flag race were tremendous successes in 2018.
THE ALL-NEW NYNGAN
With ex-NRL wrecking ball Justin Carney on deck, Nyngan shapes as every bit the side capable of storming through the Group 11 premiership unde…..
It’s January and I nearly got carried away there … again. Not in 2019 though.
Still, go Tigers.