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London calling Belvoir pupils

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STUDENTS at Belvoir Special School were beamed via video link into the athlete’s village in London yesterday for a chat with one of their Paralympic heroes.
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Javelin thrower Madeleine Hogan, who has a left-arm limb deficiency, took a barrage of probing questions from the excited group, giving an great insight into life as an elite athlete and Paralympian.

When asked by one of the students about what was the best thing about being at the Paralympics, she answered that other than the chance to get on the medal podium, the food at the athlete’s village had to be the highlight.

“What do you want? Because I can get it for you,” the Beijing bronze medallist joked.

“Village life is very cool. It’s probably the furthest thing from normality you can expect, with so many athletes from all different countries around — and everything is free.”

This answer was met with great appreciation by the audience, as was the revelation she goes to bed at 9pm or 10pm, and gets up at 5am when she is in an intense-training period.

But her disclosure that she is a Melbourne Demons supporter in answer to a question about AFL allegiances had a more mixed response.

The event was brought to the school by Telstra as part of their Paralympic Education Program.

Belvoir students have a link up with our Paralympians in London.

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Prime site to go under hammer

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THE former Winsor Park Bowling Club site will be auctioned on October 19 for the first time since the NSW Railways acquired the land about 130 years ago.
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The moves open the way for a developer to build up to four storeys on the site if the building doesn’t obscure the view of the railway station too much.

Albury agents Stanley & Martin are not disclosing the expected sale price but the state government asked the SS& A Club for $2 million about two years ago if it wanted to buy the freehold without any restrictions on reselling it.

The club gave up the lease from the NSW State Property Authority on June 30 last year after directors rejected the $2 million request and an alternative offer of paying only $500,000 on condition it was always used only as a bowling club.

A director of Stanley & Martin, Steve Martin, said the Young Street site was a prime location.

“It is zoned B4 Mixed Use, which allows it to be developed for a wide range of activities,” Mr Martin said.

“Retail, offices or even residential may be suitable for the site subject to council approval.”

Mr Martin noted that the site fell within the State Heritage Register boundary for Albury railway station precinct.

Historian Dr Bruce Pennay said he was pleased the city council had previously made clear that whatever replaced the greens and old clubrooms must respect the presence of the elegant railway station.

Winsor Park will be offered on two titles with a total area of just over 8300 square meters.

“This is one of the largest parcels to be offered in the Albury central business district for some time,” Mr Martin said.

“The majority of the site is vacant, which is a huge plus for developers as often the demolition costs of a site can price it out of contention.”

Steve Martin at the Winsor Bowling Club site.

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Nick’s slaying them at Giants

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GREATER Western Sydney says it could not be more impressed by youngster Nick Coughlan after the Scots student was awarded the GWS academy award at the Giants’ inaugural best and fairest count this week.
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Coughlan, 15, was awarded the trophy for excellence at the Kevin Sheedy medal count at Homebush in Sydney on Thursday night.

Giants Academy manager Lachlan Buszard said praised the work ethic shown by the Scots student throughout the Giants’ academy program this season.

“We cannot be more impressed with Nick’s character and commitment to football,” Buszard said.

“He’s a developing key positional player who has the ability to play both forward and back.

“His impressive form for the NSW-ACT Rams at the under-16 National Championships saw him win selection in the AFL-AIS Academy squad.”

Coughlan, who will line-up for Albury’s thirds in its second semi-final clash at Wangaratta today, was recently chosen as part of the Australian Institute of Sport’s next intake of level-one squad members coached by former Brisbane star Chris Johnson.

The squad will tour New Zealand in January.

The Giants academy award is awarded each year to a regional zone player and registered academy member who has represented NSW.

The player must have exhibited exceptional leadership skills, sound physical preparation and consistent performance.

Importantly, they must have the capacity to develop into an AFL footballer.

Albury defender and former Sydney star, Tadhg Kennelly, recently labelled selection for the AIS-AFL academy program as a “huge stepping stone” towards being drafted by an AFL club.

Nick Coughlan was awarded the GWS academy award at the Giants’ inaugural best and fairest count this week

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From the farm to the field

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YOU would think it would be near impossible to switch off from footy in a town that thrives on it, that’s unless you are Brandon Symes.
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Not much fazes the lanky Yarrawonga star with the ginger locks and 195-centimetre frame, one who feels just at home in the cab of a tractor as he does in the middle of the J.C. Lowe Oval with the footy in his hands.

Off a large cropping farm at Lake Rowan, near Tungamah — he also works for the Dowling brothers at Yarrawonga — Symes is one of a handful of Pigeons who come off the land.

And it says a lot about him, too.

Honest, hard-working and reserved to those he doesn’t know, Symes’ lifestyle means he doesn’t think about footy 24/7.

And that’s a good thing heading into today’s big semi-final against Wangaratta Rovers at Norm Minns Oval.

“The farm’s good, it takes your mind off footy,” he says.

The laidback 21-year-old is the prototype for a modern ruckman.

Quick, agile, aggressive, brave and with a leap on him to rival Russell Robertson, Symes is a major reason why Yarrawonga won the minor premiership and is just a win away from a fourth consecutive grand final.

Some believe Symes will feature prominently in the club’s best-and-fairest count on October 5, a statement that would have been hard to believe 12 months ago.

No longer does he have to wait in the wings behind the likes of Sam Keenan and Steve McKee, Symes is now the No. 1 big man at the club.

He had offers to go elsewhere but has been rewarded for his patience and loyalty.

Symes, who was best-afield in last year’s reserves flag, has featured in all 18 senior games this season after playing just five last year.

He has been Yarrawonga’s best in its two wins against the Rovers.

“This year has been my best year,” Symes said.

“I’ve played every game in the seniors which is the first time I’ve done that.

“I’ve cemented my spot now.

“I was always going to stay at Yarra and I’m glad I stayed, especially with the season we are having.”

In one of the most mouth-watering match-ups of the finals series, Symes and Wangaratta Rovers star Karl Norman will go head-to-head today in a pivotal duel that will be well worth following.

Like most involved in the Ovens and Murray league, Symes is in awe of Norman’s talent.

“He’s a gun,” he says.

“He plays as a ruckman as well as an onballer, he uses the ball really well.

“He’s definitely up there with the best ruckmen in the comp.”

As is Symes, you just won’t hear him say it.

Brandon Symes will be a key player for Yarrawonga today. Picture: TARA ASHWORTH

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Former mayor might return

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FORMER Wodonga mayor John Watson is contemplating a return to local government eight years after he departed.
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Mr Watson left Wodonga Council in 2004 when he bought Hungry Jack’s franchises in Albury, Lavington and Wagga.

He was part of the first council elected after the commissioners era in 1997 along with Les Boyes, Bill Buckpitt, Graham Crapp and Ray O’Toole.

Mr Watson said he would declare his hand before the September 25 nomination deadline.

“I am considering it,” he said.

“The council should be still like a board of directors who go in and do the strategic planning.

“I think councils are a bit out of touch with the people. We need to be available to the people and put every issue up.”

The only surviving member of the current Wodonga Council to have worked alongside Mr Watson is Cr Lisa Mahood, who was mayor when he resigned.

He was mayor when the One City debate was ignited and he remained a strong believer in Albury and Wodonga sharing resources.

“The frustration is people are not talking cross-border any more,” he said.

“We do it with sport, we play football and other sports on both sides of the river. But when it comes to local government and other things nothing happens.

“If I went back in I really would want to be hands on.

“Being a people person is important, you’ve got to listen to everyone’s point of view.”

Mr Watson has sold his Hungry Jack’s franchises and now works as a training consultant for The Personnel Group.

He has one son, Dugald, still attending high school, with other sons Digby on a gap year in Vanuatu and George studying veterinary science at Wagga.

He and his wife Christine recently moved off the family property, de Kerilleau.

Mr Watson’s departure from the council caused a by-election and it was taken out by John Mahony.

John Watson is considering a return to local government.

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Voters want to decide mayor

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LET the people vote for the mayor.
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That’s the message from the final instalment of The Border Mail’s online survey ahead of today’s local government elections.

Councillors vote on an annual basis for the mayor and deputy mayor roles, but 73.4 per cent of the respondents to the survey want ratepayers to decide the mayor.

A popularly elected mayor was pushed hard by former mayor Amanda Duncan-Strelec during her time on council.

But the incumbent, Cr Alice Glachan, said her position had changed on the issue since joining the council in 2004.

“There are greater merits for the councillors to select from within,” she said.

“The councillors know each other better than the community knows us. The councillor portrayed in the media can be very different to the person we deal with on a daily basis.

“We as a group of nine councillors need to work as a team.

“It is far better to elect the mayor annually.”

Cr Glachan has served three of the four years of the current council as mayor after taking over from Cr Patricia Gould in 2009.

She has survived challenges from Cr Henk van de Ven in the last three years with Cr Gould also re-nominating for mayor in 2009.

Even if Cr Glachan is unsuccessful in being re-elected she will remain caretaker mayor until the mayoral election.

Albury’s new council will meet for the first time on September 24 and will elect a mayor and deputy mayor.

Les Tomich conducts mayoral ballot. Our online survey has shown voters want to decide the mayor.

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Giant killers pose threat to Twin City

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TWIN City star Zac Betts says his side will not be underestimating Melrose FC in tonight’s semi-final at Myrtleford.
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The clubs clash in an intriguing cup final qualifier under lights at Savoy Park, with the winner to face either Albury United or St Patrick’s in next week’s cup final.

While the Wanderers have lost just once in their past four encounters against Josh Fluss’ side, Betts said Melrose had been a giant killer in the second half of the season.

Seventh-placed Melrose beat second-placed Myrtleford 3-1 last week, while Twin City had a comfortable 3-0 win against Albury Hotspurs.

“They were struggling to make finals not too long ago and now they are in the semi-finals,” Betts, 20, said.

“You have to watch teams like that.

“You don’t want to be over-confident against a team that knocked off Myrtleford like that.

“We’ve been playing pretty good.

“It’s a big game and we are pretty confident going in.

“As long as we play our own game we should be all right.”

Twin City enters the finals as one of the form teams, having lost just one of its past six games, while Melrose has won three of its past four.

The Wanderers won the last clash with Melrose, winning 5-3 in round 14.

Striker Betts, who scored against Spurs last week, said while the Wanderers were disappointed not to win the championship, the club already rated the season a success.

“The cup is the one you want to win,” he said.

“It would have been good to win the championship as well.

“Where we are now, if you had said that at the start of the season I’m sure we would have taken that.”

Wanderers star Zac Betts.

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Aerial attacks not so black and white

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I ALWAYS thought cyclists who wore cable-tie spikes on their helmets to ward off swooping birds were a) unfashionable and b) overreacting.
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That’s until I, too, fell victim to the Magpie Mafia and learnt post-traumatic stress can do strange things to you.

Cable ties, tennis rackets, even a cricket bat to the noggin — those birds deserve whatever they get in my humble opinion.

In fact I would even question if this whole “protecting their young ones” defence is actually a ruse to fulfil a sadistic blood lust.

My innocence was shattered during a morning run this week through Albury’s’ Mungabareena Reserve.

Shortly before a small white car had driven into the park and stopped.

I decided to turn around instead of doing my normal loop around the reserve, just in case the driver, clearly strange enough to hang out in their vehicle in a remote location mid-week, also turned out to be a murderer.

Little was I to know the real threat was to come from the sky.

BAM! It hit me hard and suddenly on the side of the head.

I saw a black and white flash out of the corner of my eye and could hear my attacker flapping as it prepared to line me up again.

As I began running away I could feel something hot and sticky running down my face.


The next few minutes are a bit of a blur but my boyfriend has since informed me I left a 20 second voicemail message on his phone as I attempted to reach him.

He can clearly hear my crying as I stumbled along the dusty road, pondering if I should call an ambulance.

Eventually he answered and I began blubbering about being attacked, alarming him greatly because it took me a while to get out the crucial “by a magpie”.

He rushed to my aid, finding me on the side of the road with blood matted in my hair, dripping onto my face, dotting my top and smeared across my phone screen.

At home, a medical examination revealed three horrific gashes to my scalp. Though others, perhaps more accurately, described them as “little scratches”.

So why would the bird attack me from the safety of is lofty nest when I clearly don’t have the athletic ability to climb a large gum tree?

And what sort of example is it setting for their young impressional fledglings?

Perhaps the Magpie Mafia are in bed with the gyms, part of a brutal campaign to increase spring memberships.

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Revenge, a grand final spot the aim

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THE crickets in the Albury Thunder changerooms could well be making more noise than coach Josh Cale before tomorrow’s second semi-final against Gundagai at Greenfield Park.
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Cale shouldn’t have to mutter a word.

The incentive to win could hardly be greater with Albury chasing its first Group 9 grand final appearance and at the same time the chance to rid the demons of last year’s semi-final disaster.

Not to mention extracting revenge on the Tigers after they blemished their unbeaten record at Anzac Park just a fortnight ago.

Cale is tired of words, he wants action.

“Everyone is back and we’re full strength,” Cale said yesterday.

“I guess having a loss to Gundagai has made us work that little bit harder.

“We have a bit of a sour taste in our mouth and it’s good to play the side that beat us.”

While Cale says last year’s finals loss to Cootamundra hasn’t been a major topic of discussion in the lead-up to the match, he admits it’s a game he would rather forget.

The Thunder were thumped 22-0 by Grant Boyd’s Bulldogs after promising so much in the home and away series.

“It’s in the back of your mind I guess, especially in my mind,” he said.

“Maybe not so much with the boys, though, as we have a lot of new players in the side.

“We touched on it at the start of the year but that’s as far as it goes.”

Albury has a new-look side with Ben Jeffery, Matt Rose, Mitch Davis, Willie Heta and Mark Walsham adding quality and, more importantly, the point-scoring ability missing last year.

Gundagai has it own mental demons after faltering in the 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011 grand finals.

The Tigers last saluted in 1983.

Cale is under no illusions about the enormity of the challenge ahead.

“Gundagai deserve where they are on the ladder,” he said.

“They justified their spot by beating Young last week and I think it’s going to be a massive test.”

Willie and Henry Heta are ready for tomorrow’s finals showdown. Picture: DAVID THORPE

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Greens not kidding: this one’s for Scott

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ALBURY United star Mitch Jones says the club wants to send master coach Scott Kidd out with a seventh cup win.
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Kidd, who has won an incredible six cups and eight league titles, revealed this week he was retiring from the position he has held since 1996, meaning, at best, he has two games left in charge after 17 years.

Jones said the Greens, who travel to Wangaratta to face St Patrick’s in a cut-throat semi-final tomorrow, were dedicating the rest of their season to Kidd.

“You can’t get much more motivation,” Jones said yesterday.

“A lot of the guys have only had Scott as their coach.

“For him to be leaving at the end of the year … the boys will be well and truly pumped up for the big fellow.

“We’ll use that as motivation but at the same time we’ve got to focus on St Pat’s.”

While most tipsters are predicting United to move into their second straight cup final — they lost last year’s decider 3-2 in an extra time thriller to Wodonga Diamonds — Jones is wary of a Patties outfit the Greens haven’t beaten this season.

St Patrick’s shocked the soccer world with a 4-0 thumping of United in round 1, with Matt Turner and Andy Stevens scoring doubles at Alexandra Park

In the corresponding fixture in round 19, Turner and Stevens scored again, but their goals were cancelled out by Josh Mulcahy and Elliot Jones in a 2-2 draw at Jelbart Park.

While he doesn’t expect the match to go to penalties, Jones believes just one goal will separate the sides.

“They’ve played quite well against us this year,” he said.

“We had our pants pulled down against them in round 1.

“I think we were just slow out of the blocks.

“It’s just our inconsistency that has let us down where as in previous years that’s what we’ve hung our hat on.

“We’ve beaten Diamonds twice and then lose to teams that are lower than us.

“We think our best football is as good as anyone in the comp.”

Patties could pull a surprise by playing midfielder Phil Torbett, despite having moved interstate, while the Greens are expected to have their best side available.

Jones said United wasn’t worrying about the opposition.

“We are just going to concentrate on ourselves,” he said.

“We won our first final and are confident we are coming into some form.

“I’m a strong believer that you’ve got to beat the entire team, not just one or two players.

“They’ve got quality.

“But we’ve been there before and there’s a lot of experience in our group.”

United coach Scott Kidd: calling it quits at season’s end.

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