Max Williams, left, was the original shearer at the Poowong Loch Cricket Club’s sheep shearing fundraiser when it started 19 years ago, and Brad Tobin has been there nearly every year since.

Hayley McKinnon did all the paperwork organising the fundraiser, but still found time to chase this big “woolly bugger”.

THEY admit that selling raffle tickets would be easier, but the Poowong Loch Cricket Club held their annual sheep shearing fundraiser event once again on Sunday, January 12.
“Shearing sheep as a fundraiser is a ‘logistical octopus’, but very well handled by the Poowong Loch Cricket Club,” said club member Garry Knox.
Approximately 253 sheep were rounded up, given a full body makeover, then returned to their rightful paddocks by volunteers.
This probably would not have been too difficult in sheep farming country, but unfortunately for the club, they are in South Gippsland.
This was the cricket club’s 18th annual shearing day, only made possible by three shearers, the use of Ray and Sandra Hill’s shearing shed at Poowong, 36 sheep owners, and perhaps as many as two cricket teams of hard-working cricketing jackeroos and jillaroos.
As Shearer Travis Scott pointed out, “this is magnificently unique, events like this help develop the history and culture and longevity of small country cricket clubs”.
The first, and possibly most important, step of putting the fundraiser together was finding a shearing team.
Travis Scott, Brad Tobin and Daniel Howe were eventually found and put up to the task.
Organising the fundraiser meant tracking down a shearing team, drench gun, wool packs, trailers, lice treatment volunteers, temporary fencing and more.
Once they had everything together, they could actually get started and prepare the shed, setting up the pens, and looking after the sheep who had arrived early.
The sheep came from as far away as Grantville and Mirboo North, and were picked up and returned home by the courier service the club included in the fee.
The recent wet weather was a bit of an issue for organisers, who were frantically texting sheep owners to remind them how much sheep shearers dislike working on wet sheep.
Advertising on social media also presented its problems, the club was contacted by two sheep owners from Western Australia who were keen to have their stock shaved, before chief organiser Hayley McKinnon pointed out that “they won’t get here in time”.
Special guest Max Williams, who helped start all this 19 years ago as the original shearer, was invited along to keep an eye on things.
Max remembers when he worked for Alex Scott and 20 sheep turned up that first year, and now it’s something much bigger than he ever imagined.
Clubmen Ray Humphrey and Shaun McKinnon both celebrated their birthdays on the day, but Garry says there was no time to sing songs.
More volunteers were organised to collect the cash, accommodating the sightseers and spectators and moving them “out of harms way”.
Special mentions went to Alan Jenkins and Sa’id Magnussen who picked up, skirted and sorted every fleece, they both started before 7am and finished only when the last sheep was shorn.
The club’s younger cricketers were also in the good books, Tom O’Halloran ran the penning in the shearing shed along with the Monson boys and their friends, and Shaun McKinnon and his dad who did the oral drenching.
But it was club president Matt Loader who was judged Best on Ground, for an episode where he disappeared full length under his trailer to grab the hind leg of a shorn sheep that thought the long paddock would be his new home.