Big Sherrin in NSW pays tribute to Daniher dynasty
The Sunshine Coast has the Big Pineapple, Coffs Harbour the Big Banana. There’s the Big Lobster, the Big Merino and any number of other oversized novelties in towns scattered across Australia.
On Saturday the next big thing will be unveiled, when the central NSW town of Ungarie launches the Big Sherrin as part of a Daniher tribute weekend.
The unveiling of the five-metre footy, which will sit on a pedestal at the local park and will weigh almost a ton, is the showpiece of festival to recognise the contribution to Australian football made by the Daniher family, in particular brothers Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris, who played a combined 752 AFL matches for Essendon and the Swans.
The Sherrin will be inscribed with the words: “Ungarie, home of the Danihers.”
“She’s a bloody great thing for the town,” said Terry Daniher, whose 313 AFL games included captaining the Bombers to premierships in 1984 and 1985.
“Obviously we’re pretty honoured to have a monument like that put up. What it really does is recognise the work my old man (Jim, now 90) and his mates did to grow footy in the town.”
Terry said the Big Sherrin was a way of ”keeping the town on the map”.
“It’s great to have something for the town to hang its hat on, and it might slow the traffic down a bit,” he said.
The day will also include a legends match, in which a team comprised of Danihers takes on a local All Stars outfit.
Terry, 60, said ”half of the family is heading up” to play in the match and he planned ”to cook a few sausages and probably prop myself in a back pocket or a forward pocket”.
He said his youngest brother, Chris, a member of Essendon’s 1993 premiership team, now tended the family farm in Ungarie and was ”right into the game, he’s really looking forward to it”.
“Chrissy’s organised a working bee and the town’s looking beaut,” Terry said. “The footy ground is in ripping nick, they’ve pumped in plenty of recycled water and it’s actually got some green grass on it.
“The sheep have been sticking their noses over the fence and eyeing it off but they can’t get to it.”
Terry said Neale, who coached Melbourne for a decade up until 2007, had been earmarked to deliver the rousing pre-match address to the Danihers team, which would include Neale’s youngest son Ben, who plays for Blackburn in the Eastern Football League.
“I think Neale might have got cold feet a bit, but Chrissy has told him he’s doing it. He’ll swing him around, don’t worry about that.”
The match will also raise funds for Neale’s not-for-profit FightMND organisation.
A host of former AFL players plan to attend, including Bombers favourites Garry Foulds, Bryan Wood, Stephen Carey and Paul Hamilton, former Sydney captain Paul Kelly, and Geelong great Billy Brownless, who will roam the ground with a microphone and cover the event for Triple M radio.
Terry said it was remarkable that a little NSW town of only a few hundred people, whose football club – the Magpies – had nearly folded in the 1960s because of the strength of rugby league, would now forever be associated with Australian football.
“But it’s still tough for footy in the bush,” he said. “Ungarie is just hanging in there, we don’t have enough for a seconds team. There’s the U17s and the juniors are going strong, but once the kids get to certain age they want to shoot off to Canberra or Wagga to continue their education or look for work.
”But in the end, back home, it was the rugby league team that folded.”