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Following a Beulah-Hopetoun tradition

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• Right, Southern Mallee Giants ruckman Reece McNally joined the team at the start of the 2018 season. Reece is one of many who has family ties with his father Robin, playing for Hopetoun in the old Southern Mallee Football League.
• Right, Southern Mallee Giants ruckman Reece McNally joined the team at the start of the 2018 season. Reece is one of many who has family ties with his father Robin, playing for Hopetoun in the old Southern Mallee Football League.

For true country people the ability to go for a walk in the fresh air and see not a soul while you gather your thoughts can be one of the most attractive parts of living where we do, however for our local sporting clubs this sparsity of population can spell the end of what were once thriving social hubs.
The communities of Beulah and Hopetoun have worked hard over the past five years to ensure that the religion that is Saturday sport continues to thrive in the area. As the Mallee Football and Netball Leagues begun winding down, the powers that be for the die hard arch rivals met to map out a plan for their kid’s sporting future and the Southern Mallee Giants were born.
The honeymoon period for the Giants outfit has seen them spend one year in the now defunct Mallee League and the next two years in the Horsham District FNL, while 2018 marks their first season in the Wimmera Football and Netball League.
In this four year period the Giants faithful have been spoilt with Grand Final appearances, most particularly by the senior football outfit. An undefeated run during their two year relationship with the HDFNL saw the club make the decision in early 2018 to make the move to the Wimmera League, with their first Grand Final appearance taking place this Saturday at Anzac Park against the fabled Horsham Demons side.
Each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday there is a Tarago or two that turns up to the Giants gatherings, carrying the guys and girls who have committed to covering the kilometres to pull on the orange strip. To outsiders this looks to be a bunch of ‘bought in’ players, the ones that the recruiters track down from other leagues as the cherry on top, to bring some spark to the existing team, and to round out the team, but the avid followers know better.
Hopetoun stalwart Graeme ‘Wiggsy’ Price put highlighter to paper last week to make note of the origins of the Giants senior football list, and unravelled a tale that the club is proud to tell.
Of the 60 players on the list, 46 have fathers that played football for Beulah or Hopetoun, and of the remaining 14, nine of these live in the area, while another one has a long term girlfriend who hails from Hopetoun and has played in the Southern Mallee for 5+ years.
That leaves four guys who have no junior or family history with the Hopetoun and Beulah communities, yet there is still a link. Nick O’Farrell played footy with ex-locals in Ballarat, Jimmy Wray enjoyed a Darwin footy season with Brock Orval and Sam Weddell last year, Jamie Neild travels from Horsham to play with his Beulah-Hopetoun bred mates, and Sam is enjoying his fourth year at the club after following locals up the highway at the beginning of the Giants story.
There must be something in the water up there … come Saturday arvo we’ll know whether it contains Wimmera Football League premiership winning abilities as well.