” A TRIO OF MAGPIE MEDALLISTS…….”

Timmy Lowe would have been an Ovens and Murray champ in any era.

The classy small man fortuitously landed in Wangaratta’s lap when his dad Roy decided to re-locate the family building business from Melbourne in 1948.

R.J.Lowe Constructions ( also employing Tim and his brother Ernie ) became one of the town’s largest companies, and spread its tentacles throughout the North-East …… even assisting in the re-alignment of ‘New’ Tallangatta, when it shifted 8km west to allow for the construction of Lake Hume in the early 50’s.

Roy wholeheartedly embraced his civic responsibilities , serving firstly as a councillor, then as Mayor of Wangaratta in 1955/56…….But it’s the mercurial Timmy who sticks in the minds of old-timers, many of them still fondly recalling his dazzling ball skills………….
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Tim Lowe’s childhood years were affected by his battle with the debilitating disease of polio.

He was somewhat of a late starter to football, beginning at the age of 16, with State Savings Bank, in the A-Grade Amateurs, in 1947. When he joined Wang the following season, he walked straight into a developing side.

Small in stature ( standing just 5’7” ), he was a quick, agile and elusive rover. Under the coaching of George Tribe, the Pies were hampered by injuries in the early games, but recovered well to finish just half a game out of the four.

Lowe was hailed as the ‘Recruit of the Year’, besides winning the first of his five Club Best & Fairests.

It was the arrival of football sage Mac Holten that helped fast-track many promising Magpie youngsters into out-and-out stars.

Lowe, in particular, derived much benefit from the discipline and tutelage of the master-coach…………..And he certainly required the whip to be cracked occasionally………

Jack Dillon, who was just starting his career with the Rovers, was Timmy’s next-door neighbor early on, and says, despite being footy adversaries, the pair were as thick as thieves:

“We only owned one bike between us and would take it in turns to dink one another to the Dance or the Pub………..He was a bit of a cheeky bugger, Tim……Combined with that, he was partial to a cool drink on a hot day………So he could get us into a bit of strife without even trying…….”

“I could tell you heaps of stories, but I remember one time, we found our way to the Footy Club Dance out at Tarrawingee…..Lord knows how we got there, but I do recall we brought a Crayfish and a couple of Bottles of Wine with us…….I went into the Hall to have a dance, and when I came outside again, Tim was standing beside the fire, stirring one of the popular local players – big Leo Devery.”

“Next thing, Leo’s hauled off and whacked him flush on the moosh ……….That stopped him in his tracks. He thought his jaw was broken………….was still nursing it the next day…….”
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A touch of spunk added an extra ingredient to the Lowe football make-up. He relished the big occasions and starred in Wangaratta’s 1949 flag win over Wodonga.

The Pies had struggled to wrest control of the game from the Bulldogs, who, despite the absence of their inspirational coach Jack Eames, trailed by just a goal at half-time.

When the heavens opened up during the long break, it made conditions decidedly difficult for players and spectators alike.

Wang streaked away with the game in the final term, booting four goals to one, with Jack and Doug Ferguson, Bill Parkinson, Lowe and Ken Nish helping them to an 11.16 to 6.14 victory.

It was, of course, the first of the Pies’ famous ‘Four in a Row’, which would perpetuate the Holten legend.
But there was no more important player in the side than Timmy Lowe.

His capacity to rack up countless possessions and his rapport with ruckmen Kevin French, Graeme Woods and Bill Comensoli saw him named Club B & F in the 1950, ‘51 and ‘52 premiership years.

The evenness of the Wang side was exemplified when four players – Jackie Stevenson, Lionel Wallace, Mac Holten and Lowe tied for fourth place in the 1951 Morris Medal.

The following year Timmy polled 18 votes to finish third, behind Wodonga champion Norm Webb (22) and North Albury’s Billy King (19).

Melbourne had been on his hammer for several years and finally, in the pre-season of 1953, he and ruckman Graeme Woods agreed to head down to train and participate in a couple of practice matches.

Neither of them were comfortable in the ‘big smoke’ and were back home prior to the start of the season.

Chasing a historic five on-the-trot, the Pies finished two games clear on top of the ladder but were below their best in the finals. They dropped the Second Semi to Albury by 13 points despite booting four goals to one in the last quarter………

The Preliminary Final saw ex-Wangaratta star Norm Minns leading Benalla against his old coach, Holten.

The Demons, outpacing Wang and continually creating the loose man, held a slight edge all day and clung on to win a thriller by 19 points. Vice-Captain Lowe was magnificent, as he strove to keep his side in the game.

Benalla clinched their first O & M flag against Albury the following week. Prior to the game Lowe’s brilliant season was recognised when he was presented with the 1953 Morris Medal.
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Lowe was enticed to Beechworth as captain-coach in 1954 and proceeded to set O & K footy alight with his individual brilliance.

He took out the Bynon Cup ( League B & F ) with 18 votes, ahead of two old Magpie premiership team-mates, Ray Warford (Moyhu) and ‘Hopper’ McCormick ( King Valley).

The Bombers went within an ace of snatching the flag the following year.

Bogong led 6.12 to 5.16 in the dying seconds of a sensational Grand Final. As they grimly clung to a three-point lead the ball was bobbling around in Beechworth’s 10-yard square….. Lowe grabbed it and snapped it through, just as the siren blew…….Alas, it was a split-second too late, and the Bombers rued their misfortune.

They made amends in 1956 when Lowe (who had shared the League B & F, with Ray Warford and Moyhu rover Greg Hogan ) led them to a strong win over Milawa.

Despite woeful kicking ( they booted 9.17 to 6.5 ) the Bombers were too strong for a smaller, but courageous Demon side. Jock Gardner was a star for Milawa, kicking five goals, whilst the premiers were inspired by their tireless leader.

Beechworth fell away, winning just 6 games in 1957. Tim relinquished the coaching post and returned to Wangaratta. Injuries and a subsequent drop-off in fitness saw him confined to a handful of senior appearances, taking his final games tally to 122.

But he remained eligible for the 1959 Reserves finals and figured in yet another premiership when the young Pies eclipsed Benalla in the Grand Final curtain-raiser.

He was lured out to Moyhu in 1960. Despite some indifferent late-season form, he held on to his spot for the keenly-anticipated decider, against his old team, Beechworth.

The game’s fate was still in the balance when the siren blew and the ball was in the hands of Bomber rover ‘Ab’ Comensoli. His shot for goal from 40m out, on the angle, missed, and Moyhu snatched the flag, 9.11 to 9.5…….

Fittingly, amidst wild celebrations, the Timmy Lowe career had drawn to a close.

It was his seventh premiership……He’d won seven Club Best & Fairest Awards, three League Medals, and would, after his death, be inducted to the Ovens and Murray and Wangaratta Halls of Fame, and the Magpies’ Team of Legends………
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Ray Preston was a fifties football nomad who slotted smoothly into the Wangaratta side after the departure of Timmy Lowe.

He began his career with Ardmona in 1947, before moving to the Mountain District League for three seasons. On his return to home territory he stripped with GVFL club City United, winning their B & F in 1951 and making his name as a talented small man.

South Melbourne considered the 170cm, 70kg rover a likely type. He spent two seasons (1953 and ‘54 ) at the Lakeside Oval, but was contending for his spot with a handful of players of similar calibre and stature.

He was limited to just seven senior games with the Swans. When Wangaratta came knocking in early 1955 the Pies’ recruiting strategy appealed to him, particularly as it fitted in with employment with a cigarette company.

He enjoyed a brilliant season……. The smart, stocky on-baller was more than handy around goal and it was no surprise when he took out the 1955 Morris Medal with 22 votes, two clear of Myrtleford coach Alby Rodda.

Additionally, Preston performed more than capably in the Ovens and Murray’s Country Championship victory over Ballarat.

He snagged 20 goals during the finals series, during which Wangaratta overcame Yarrawonga in the Prelim Final re-play and lowered their colours in a tight Grand Final against North Albury.

He had a patchy 1956 season and was dropped from the senior side on more than one occasion.

But Wangaratta’s B & F voting system in that era decreed that the award should go to the leading vote-getter in the Morris Medal.

Thus Preston, with 8 votes, took out his second successive award, sharing it with brilliant youngster Lance Oswald.

Ray Preston continued his football journey, moving to Lemnos in 1957, to Seymour for three seasons; then on to Mooroopna for 1961 and ‘62.

He concluded his career back with home club Ardmona in 1963…………..
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Lance Oswald will forever be regarded as one of the Magpies’ proudest sons……

He was a schoolboy prodigy – a curly-haired football nut who had won a Junior League Medal and two premierships with South Wanderers before his 14th birthday.

Two years later, he was making his O & M debut against Wangaratta Rovers…….He only played one more senior game in 1953, but consolidated his spot the following season.

By 1955 Oswald was an out-and-out star. He kicked 17 goals during the finals series, including seven in a losing Grand Final against North Albury.

League clubs circled him, but his coach Mac Holten advised him to add a bit more beef to his slender body…… Holten was keen to nudge him towards his old club, Collingwood, but St.Kilda won the race for his services.

They played him on a match-permit in the opening round of 1957 and urged him to stay after his promising debut.

But Wangaratta put the foot down and persuaded him to return home.

By now Lance was the complete player. Strongly-built for a rover, he could sniff a goal and had a manic attack on the footy.

In a dominant season for the ‘Pies he kicked 90 goals to win the League goal-kicking, played in the O & M’s Country Championship triumph and shared the Morris Medal with Myrtleford defender Neil Currie…..

And he snapped the winning goal in Wang’s last-minute Premiership victory over Albury…….

After such a fairytale finish to his O & M career, big things were expected of Oswald……

.Within three years he was rated the best centreman in Australia, had represented Victoria, and picked up two St.Kilda B & F’s.

Lance Oswald retired to the ‘bush’ from the Saints after 107 games and 102 goals, settling his young family in Strathmerton, where he played 210 games and coached for nine seasons………

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