“If you’re a famous Australian sports star, and you drive your car through Wagga – Wagga will claim you as their own”.
So says Michael “Speedy” Stratton, The Area News veteran sports contributor.
The Riverina capital likes to see itself as a regional sporting powerhouse – producing an inordinate number of Australian representatives that belie its relatively small population.
But it seems as if Wagga are as loose with their borders as the Queensland state of origin rugby league team. And their creative reach takes in the MIA.
Here are five sporting heroes Wagga claim who (arguably) aren’t really from there.
Mark “Tubby” Taylor
Everyone knows that former Australia cricket captain and current cricket director Mark Taylor hails from Wagga, right?
Well, few outside the Riverina seem to know Tubs was actually born in Leeton, and lived there the first eight years of his life.
Leeton residents in the know say it was in the MIA he truly honed his leadership skills.
The Wikipedia page of former Sydney Swans captain Paul Kelly introduces him in the following way:
“Born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Kelly initially played rugby league for Wagga Brothers but turned to Australian rules football at age 15”
Stolen at birth by Wagga, it seems. Paul Kelly was born in West Wyalong.
Another red and white superstar is Michael Henderson. The former NRL hitman, who played for St George and the Gold Coast Titans, was once claimed by Wagga.
But we all know he’s from Griffith.
The Daniher brothers
The legendary Daniher brothers – Neale, Chris and Anthony – played an incredible 752 AFL/VFL games between them.
Of course, Wagga claim all three.
And just a predictably, they're not really from Wagga. They’re from Ungarie.
Where is Ungarie? That’s in Wagga – is how a new song might go.
But it’s really a town in Bland shire in Central West NSW.
Chris Daniher in fact currently runs the family farm in Ungarie.
It’s not just the men Wagga want.
Sharni Williams is an Olympic champion Australian rugby union representative.
Prime Wagga poaching material.
Only problem is she’s from Batlow, a town more than 100km away.