2 October 2023

How AFL legend Billy Brownless revolutionised Mirrool's silo kicking competition

| Edwina Mason
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Red oval sign welcoming visitors to Mirrool, Home of the Silo Kick.

The population may have expanded to 29 in recent years, but that’s got nothing on the town’s annual Silo Kick competition which attracts hundreds of visitors. Image: Visit NSW.

Mirrool might usually be a 29-person town but come 14 October, the population explodes to around 800 for one reason – a silo kicking competition.

As the story goes – back in 1988 AFL legend Geelong’s Billy Brownless was travelling to a wedding in West Wyalong when he sighted a pub from Maguires Hill.

Suggesting the group stop for a beer before the wedding, a sign on the bar of the historic Mirrool Hotel caught their attention.

The offer of $50 to anyone who could kick a football over the nearby Mirrool grain silo proved too irresistible to Brownless, who was furnished with a football and nailed the challenge first go.

Needless to say – the silo vanquisher and his party didn’t make it to the wedding, but did get to the reception, leaving the locals with a good yarn and, Aussies being Aussies, a challenge to beat.

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A repeat invitation in 1992 saw Brownless return for the official inaugural annual silo challenge, and ever since, on the second Saturday in October, football players, celebrities and farmers gather at Mirrool to boot a football over the Mirrool grain silos in a quest to win the annual post footy season pilgrimage.

Many have tried and failed and according to one local organiser Jason Bryce, only a few have the skill and power to beat the silos!

The still operational concrete silos are 30 metres high and 10 metres wide with a walkway across the top adding another few metres.

These days Jack Harper from Ariah Park is the man to beat. Which isn’t surprising given the sporting prowess of that family and the fact that silo kicking seems to be in his blood, given his uncle Robbie Harper has won the Mirrool Silo Kick about eight times.

Mirrool silos with a smaller version of the silos constructed from 44 gallon drums

Mirrool local Eric Robinson created a mini-silo using 44-gallon drums on an old horse and cart for the Junior Silo Kick competition. Image: Bland Shire Council.

Jason says the silo kick success rate is about 80:20 in favour of the silo.

“There are a few competitors who go and have a few beers while they’re not kicking and return thinking they’re super-boots and they get a bit wobbly,” he said.

“Some blokes have fun, others take it very seriously,” he added.

Since the start of the kick, the free entry competition has grown to incorporate Junior Kicks for those aged nine, 12, 14 and 16; a Ladies’ Kick and a Men’s Over 40 kick, in addition to the main event, which now offers $3000 in prizemoney.

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In all fairness, the juniors get a smaller silo – custom-made by another local in Eric Robinson – using 44-gallon drums on an old horse and cart.

There’s also a gumboot throwing competition, tug-o-war and a Calcutta (that involves humans running rather than horses), netball competitions plus a netball shoot-out for medals and prizemoney.

Finally, there’s the auction, long sponsored by Kotzur silos – which has grown from humble beginnings in a small shed in the Riverina town of Walla Walla – offering a grain auger, field bin and all things a farmer could hope for, including sporting memorabilia.

Starting at 11 am, the Mirrool Silo Kick runs through until 6 pm when the folk retire to the pub for beverages and a band.

Mirrool is located in the northern part of the Riverina region of southwest NSW, 46 km south of West Wyalong on the Newell Highway.

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