ON the Wimmera Football League's list of premiers, there's a blank space between 1941 and 1945, but that doesn't mean football was dormant.
Amid the Second World War in 1941, it was decided by all Wimmera Football League clubs that the league would go into recess until circumstances permitted its return.
Horsham Historical Society member Jim Herd said most of the region's footballers went away to serve.
"All the young fellas had gone to war. At one stage farmers would have had a couple of young employees working with them, but they all went away. It was only old-timers left, and they were pretty busy with their own labour and too old to play footy again," he said.
The 1940 season - immediately before the recess - left the league teetering on the edge.
Five of the nine clubs were forced to withdraw midway through due to financial difficulties and a lack of players.
"In the country there were great shortages of young men and that had consequences for quite a long time. Country sport was just about completely done away with for the duration of the war," Mr Herd said.
No official football was played for two years and the clubs took the duty upon themselves to keep the sport alive in the region.
In 1944 clubs around the Wimmera banded together to form an unofficial league under the moniker 'Wimmera Football Association'.
A short season was planned with teams representing Jeparit, Horsham, and a composite side of Nhill residents and Royal Australian Air Force servicemen stationed in the town.
The clubs decided any profits earned from gate takings would be donated to patriotic funds to support Australian soldiers.
Horsham RSL historian Sally Bertram said Wimmera community members came together in any way they could to support the troops.
"Everything they did was for raising money for the war," she said.
"All the families in the region were affected. Either you had sons going away to serve, or they were distant relatives or your employees who left.
More sports news: Have your say, who's the Wimmera's greatest AFL player of all time?
"There was always a connection, so everyone just supported them."
After an entertaining season that drew big crowds in support, Horsham and Nhill RAAF met in the grand final, with the latter going on to be crowned the league's first premiers.
More than 300 pounds (an estimated $21,000 now) was raised during the season and donated to patriotic funds around the region.
A second season was played in 1945 with newcomers Warracknabeal crowned premiers. It was the last year for the Wimmera Football Association.
In late 1945 it was unanimously decided by all the clubs that the Wimmera Football League would resume the following year.
Footballers returned to the region, new players settled, and in 1946 the list of premiers started again.
IN OTHER NEWS:
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.