The Sale Touch Association was formed in 1993, following a public meeting held at the Sale Sports and Community Club.

The meeting was called by Laurie Smyth, the long serving Association President; also in attendance was Barbara Barrett, the then VTA Development Officer.

It is now twenty years since the Ass'n was formed with many players passing through the area in their employment such as the RAAF, Fulham Correctional [staff] and the ESSO helicopter pilots

The RAAF East Sale have been an integral part of the local scene as many players and referees coming from that area.

Teams have come from such areas as the RAAF, Fulham Prison [Staff], local schools, and places of employment together with teams from individuals who have enlisted their mates

Sale has now hosted the State Teams Titles on fourteen occasions; twice at Sale Catholic College Ovals and twice at Gippsland Grammar. It was in 2004 that the event was first held at Stephenson Park and has been held there since that time.

One of the greatest areas of growth has occurred within the local schools; teams have travelled from Traralgon with Karen Joyce and Bairnsdale Nagle College with John Katal. John has now relocated to Darwin and now we have Bryan Smith running the show.

Travelling time from each town is one hour.


In earlier times Martin Stephenson and Nicole McGrath would visit schools to promote the sport. Martin has travelled as far as Tubbit, in Far East Gippsland. On more that one occasion, the clinics were called off due to the school being snowed in for several days.

Karen Boyle, who has now joined the RAAF, was a very keen supporter of our Youth Development program. She would conduct clinics here in Sale and on one occasion, she visited Leongatha.

Jason Taylor and Jeff Cox have conducted a clinic for the local school's cluster sports day where small schools hold a combined sports day. Students and teachers were transported to a central location, where ten different sports are offered to the students.

The students made their choice as the sport they were interested in. Not surprisingly, touch was one of the more popular sports, with great interest shown by students and teachers alike.

The real success of the Ass'n is that fact that the committee have a very active and keen group of players who always support touch activities in the area.

This real commitment has been shown at the State Teams Titles, School Carnivals, and Schools Clinics and in the general running of the Ass'n.


The Ass'n has a weekly column in "The Gippsland Times", which has a circulation of 14,000. In addition exposure is gained through the support of ABC Radio and WIN TV.

Now we are up with the latest and greatest with the WEB. [It took me a while to get into this age of electronics – now I am learning to text.



Perhaps one of the big plusses would by when we conducted touch for people with physical and mental problems.

These people were catered for with players such as David Whyte, John Katal, and Laurie Smyth together with the staff from the special accommodation houses.

Activities would only last as long as the residents wanted. This would vary, depending on the day, and could be for thirty minutes or it could be for an hour or more.

Ball handling skills, co-ordination etc were taught. The residents were very appreciative of this inter-action.

Not one to let a good story go I must tell the story of Dave Whyte, who is now a level four referee in Melbourne.

The mini bus arrived from Bairnsdale when a small female resident rushed up to Dave and gave him the biggest hug of all time.

As he was in this position, a carer yelled out, "Watch out, she will put her tongue in your ear". That was the fastest that I have ever seen Dave move. It turned out that the whole episode was a joke and it was taken that way.

Perhaps the most important aspect of these days was the BBQs that followed. This was a great opportunity for touch people and the residents to mix socially.

The "ESSO Tiger", a publication by ESSO Australia, ran this story in one of their publications.

We will resume this important promotional work and hopefully I can report to you as to how this is going.


Associations such as ours cannot exist unless you have a keen band of workers and this is something that we can be proud of in Sale. That's twenty years of co-operation and support to make the Ass'n what it is today.


Under the leadership of John Katal, Nagle College coach; we entered a means, women’s and a mixed team in the State Teams Titles were held in Shepparton which entailed a 1,000 k return trip to the Titles.

The following week end it was the Victorian Secondary Schools Touch Championships in Melbourne. From these games the following players were selected for state trials. Under 16 Boys: Stuart McLean, Christopher Katal, Daniel Evans, Zac Jepsen and Brett Davidson.

Under 16 Girls: Clare Cunningham.

Under 18 Boys: Samuel Nelson.

Congratulations to John and his students.


The Wellington Shire Council have actively supported the Association ensuring that the playing surface is first class; thanks to Tim Rowe and his staff for the work that they do in this area.

The Shire has just had a Civic Reception for the 2013 Sale Knockout with Councillor and Council Officers in attendance


Touch has received in recent times was the admission to the Catholic All School's sports program. This was the result of five years lobbying by John Katal and Graham Readett, both teachers at Nagle College, Bairnsdale.

John is the mentor for the students at the College and is head Touch coach while Graham is the proud father of Blake, a member of John's team.

Graham attended the State Co-ordinator's meeting in Melbourne where he successfully lobbied the Catholic School System for admission. Hockey was also admitted to the CAS.

Congratulations to both John and Graham for active support of Touch in Victoria.


These days are held in Bairnsdale with local players taking part; several of the primary schools in the area have entered teams but to date they have not committed to entering teams in a Bairnsdale competition


Chris Katal has been selected to play in the State under 21 team and at the time of updating this he is in Adelaide with his parents, John and Kerryn and sister Daniel. The team is under the guidance of Rugby League Fitness Coach and will be put through his paces.

Congratulations to Chris on being selected for this squad.

Stuart McLean and Lani Harris have been added to the State squad.


We have three RAAF Touch teams in the local competition, Can’t Touch This, Switched on Installations, and 1st Degree Burns.

The Fist, Payless Promotions, Stegbar Storm and Mancans, Roulette Cinema and Jimmy’s Top Draw Krill are just some of the teams from the RAAF that have played over the years.

Brett Towers Retires

12th August, 2015


Bret Towers (Porky) announced his retirement from Touch following a twenty year career in which he had won many awards; in 2005 he won both the male try scorer and male best and fairest player. Over the time that he has played he has won many club awards. 


His career started when he played for Charmac and following the closure of that business he then started Porky’s which then became Leesons; the next name change was to Porky’s Pines and finally Porky’s.


In his time with the Sale Touch Association games were played at Wurruk, Sale Showgrounds, McMillan Park and finally at Stephenson Park.


The Annual Sale Knockout will not be the same without him as he has competed in this event over a number of years.


Porky has seen many changes to the teams that he has led; this year he has recruited twelve year old Oli Wilson to join with the Porky’s team.


He will remain Vice President and an active supporter of the Sale Touch Association.