The 2019 VFBV State Rural Championships felt special this year because it was like they were coming home – the first state Rural Championships were held in Bendigo at the Strathfieldsaye Sports Ground in March 1957. It was also the last standalone Rural Champs.
Since then the Rural Champs have been held in Bendigo in 1972, 1986, 1996 and 2005.
On Friday night there was a gala opening at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre which was attended by many representatives of the organising committee, sponsors, the VFBV and CFA. Event Ambassador Jane Bunn was also present, and her opening remarks included a weekend weather report for Bendigo.
“A great deal of support has been given for the Championships from brigades across District 2 and we could not have put on the event without their fantastic support,” said Chairman of the Organising Committee Brendan Drechsler.
“I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the City of Greater Bendigo, which was outstanding in its support. Being able to secure the Tom Flood Sports Centre was pivotal in our quest to hold these Championships. For Bendigo to hold both the Urban and Rural State Championships in the same year is a reflection of the City of Greater Bendigo Major Events Team, headed by Terry Karamaludos and Dawn Holland.”
There were fantastic achievements by all brigades, with District 2 brigade Sedgwick taking out the Alan King AFSM Memorial Conduct Trophy. This is presented to the team which achieves the highest points in general behaviour, dress and punctuality of team members between the commencement of competition events and 6pm.
In the priming and pumping event, Sedgwick led at 21.95 seconds and they were only beaten by Greta brigade on a rerun which resulted in a difference of 0.04 seconds.
In 2013, the Sedgwick team competed in the U13 category and in 2015 the same team went on to win the state title which was the first one for Sedgwick in over 50 years of competing. This group of junior members has consistently won titles since 2015, and for a group of six kids who started together in 2013 and have competed side-by-side ever since, it was a proud moment.
A highlight from District 2 teams included Sedgwick Division B beating the Chief’s Chargers in the Low Down Pump and Ladder, Tanker Drawing Water event. In the same event, the result was a clean sweep for District 2 teams with the placings being 1st Sedgwick, 2nd Axe Creek, 3rd Huntly and 4th Mandurang.
Other results from District 2 teams included –
Event 1A: Low Down Pump & Ladder – 11-13 Years 1st Mandurang A with a new record of 15.86 seconds;
Event 1B: Low Down Pump & Ladder – 11-15 Years 2nd Sedgwick A – 17.51 seconds;
Event 6B: Tanker – Drawing Water – 11-15 Years – 1st Sedgwick A 19.47 seconds;
Brendan Drechsler, who is the coach of the Sedgwick team as well as the Chairman of the Organising Committee, was very proud of his team.
“How many brigades would have won the Stan Ross Trophy for discipline, conduct and presentation at junior level and now the Alan King AFSM Memorial Conduct Trophy as seniors, remembering that this is the same group who started out in 2013?” he said.
“Every Sunday for four months of the year, team members were out there bowling hoses – even on Christmas Eve.”
Brendan pointed out that having high-profile personality Jane Bunn as the Ambassador for the Championships “helped to showcase the wonderful work CFA rural brigades do throughout the year, and we would like to thank her her commitment.
“I would also like to the tremendous support given by members of the committee and in particular Secretary Peter Dillon, Treasurer Don Morgan, Grounds Master Graeme Pearce and District 2 HQ brigade member Paul Tangey. And the support from District 2 Operations Manager Bill Johnstone and Volunteer Sustainability Team member Beth Taylor was pivotal in ensuring we flew the flag for not only the VFBV and CFA but most importantly for District 2.”
Photos by VFBV Official Photographer Tamara Mercer