Another sporting casualty of the Coronavirus pandemic is the Davidson Shield competition which was to have been contested between Cobar, Nyngan, Bourke and Walgett high schools next month.
The annual sporting contest has a long history and for many of the school’s former students, it was a much anticipated event on the school calendar.
“Davidson Shield was the cream of the crop,” Nardine Cull (nee Hyde), a former CHS student from 1988 to 1993 told The Cobar Weekly.
“It was what every shiny new Year 7 (First Former to the old folks) would dream of.
“The noticeboard in the bottom quad near the grapevine was the place to nominate for Davidson Shield try-out for selection for chosen sports. (It was also the place the sports master posted the finalised teams to see if you were successful!),” Nardine said.
“It was there with trepidation you scrawled your name after reading through all the names already written and wondering if you could ever make the team.”
Nardine competed in Davidson Shield netball, basketball and soccer teams during her time at CHS.
“It was an aspiration to be a part of Davidson Shield.
“My family has all been selected,” she said.
“Winning the shield was important as it was the whole school together. If you weren’t competing you were cheering each other on as opposed to competing against each other at our carnivals houses of Chesney, Occidental, great Cobar and Fort Bourke.
“Cobar and Nyngan were the strongest teams,” Nardine recalls.
“They were neck and neck for most grand finals.”
Cobar Camels Rugby Club president Jarrod Marsden participated in numerous Davidson Shield basketball, squash, hockey, touch football, rugby league and golf teams during his time at Cobar High from 1989 to 1994.
“My mother once said (after I placed another permission slip on the table) “What is it this time—marbles in Brewarrina?
“Each town had some sports they always excelled in,” Jarrod said.
“Bourke was unbeatable in hockey and Brewarrina was always tough in basketball.
“The shield normally came down to us and Bourke in the years that I played.
“We always hated losing but I didn’t really notice how important it was to the school overall until we lost it,” he said.
“The first few years I was in high school, we held it and we were devastated when we lost it.
“On the flip side it was awesome when we got it back a few years later.”
Barry Knight represented CHS in Davidson Shield in the school’s rugby league team from 1967 to 1969.
“At Cobar High we were very proud to be chosen to represent our school and positions on each team were hard won,” Barry said.
“The camaraderie was fantastic, not only of our whole Davidson Shield team, but opposition teams as well.”
Barry said back in his day the Davidson Shield competition ran over two days and students were billeted with host families for two nights.
The teams consisted of debating, athletics, tennis, netball and rugby league and there was also a Shield Dance where he said “a lot of mind games were carried out by the opposing Open Rugby League teams” prior to their games the next day.
“We had the time of our lives, but we were always mindful we were there as proud ambassadors of our school and town,” Barry said.
He said one of his most vivid memories of Davidson Shield was when his rugby league team mate Larry Fox kicked a goal from half way on the final bell to win the match and the shield for Cobar.
Barry said he was lucky to have been able to represent his school and to have made many lifelong friends through sport, many of whom he’s still in contact with.
Local Wendy Robinson, who grew up in Nyngan, remembers Davidson Shield as “so much fun”.
“The bus trips, billeting and making friends.
“Brewarrina billets were the best. Mum spoke about my billets from Bre forever and a day,” Wendy said.
“There were intertown dances/discos.
“I know of a few romances that sparked during the Davidson Shield visits,” she said.
Wendy recalls being very nervous about attending trials to get into a Davidson Shield team.
“For me it was running (sprinting) for one year, netball (reserve) for one year and softball for one year.”
Competing in Davidson Shield was also a family tradition for Wendy as her mum had played in the school’s tennis and captain ball teams and father in running and football.
The Davidson Shield is named after Charles Mark Anthony Davidson, who was the Member for the Cobar electorate, and also Member of the Legislative Council from 1918 until his death in 1949.
Other Davidson Shield sports over the years have included Tug-O-war, relays and cricket.
In a newspaper report from 1949 about the competition, it was said that the annual event was more about “character training rather than achievement in sport which was more important”.