Connect with us


Knock off and Kick off



There’s no shortage of mining industry professionals at the Gunnedah and District Soccer Association, with currently 11 players taking their teamwork from the mine site to the soccer field.

Five years ago, the Gunnedah and District Soccer Association discussed the idea of a new senior team in town and the Gunnedah FC was formed entering the local Tamworth comp in both first and reserve grade.

Heading into their fifth year in 2020, the senior team has welcomed a total of 11 players working in and around the mining industry and it’s clear that teamwork has played a major role in their success.

Over the 4 years, the first-grade team has made the grand final each year winning twice and taking out the league title in the first 3 years and runner up in 2019.

The reserve grade team have had equal amounts of success, getting better and better each year. They won 23 games straight in 2019 to win the league and grand final double.

This year both grades have made the step up to the Premier competition in Tamworth and Electrical Engineer Coordinator at Whitehaven Coal and Gunnedah FC’s first grade coach Andy Cygan is feeling good about the finals. “It certainly has been a bit of learning, but we are adapting to the big league,” said Andy.

Back row L-R Atilla Yigman (Reserve Grade Coach), Zac Crowhurst, Boyd McCormack, Lee Butler, Matt Williams, Daniel Pengilly, Andy Cygan (First Grade Coach).
Front row L-R Paul Webster, Cody Auld, Andrew Cameron, Nathan Hobart.
Jayden Thomas couldn’t make the photo.

“The reserve grade side is currently sitting 2nd on the ladder and first grade just outside the top 4, but we expect to make the finals.”

Originally from England, Andy played semi-professional soccer (or football as Andy says) and had worked for 9 years in the UK mines before moving to Australia in 2005. “It was football (soccer) that really got me the job out here funnily enough,” said Andy.

“The mine manager was over in England interviewing people and had been out for a meal with someone who knew me; we were both involved in the same league.”

“I coached when I was in England and have always wanted to go down this path once my playing days are finished.”

When Andy first arrived in Australia he worked in Moranbah, Central Queensland. He ended up playing representative soccer for Mackay where he travelled up and down the Coast to play teams from Cairns, Townsville, Gold Coast and Brisbane. “This was a big commitment whilst working in the mine with a 2-hour drive to training twice a week and away each Saturday,” said Andy.

And that commitment and passion for the game has followed him to the fields in Gunnedah.

With 25 years working underground in the mines, Andy said you certainly inherit the teamwork that comes with working in the industry. “You always have your mates back whether its underground or out on the field.”

Although it’s hard to manage changing rosters, the team somehow make it work and players do their best to make as many training sessions and games as possible, with training sessions running twice a week.

Covid has not made it easy for the passionate squad and at one stage it was unsure whether they would go ahead with the season. But with a plan put in place they managed to get back into training whilst maintaining social distancing and only touching the ball with their feet. “I have been very impressed with the Covid plan both at work and with the soccer club,” said Andy.

“We have managed to get our junior comp to go ahead which was a massive bonus to the kids in town that love the game.

“On the first week we had over 100 children turn up and I can certainly say the handful of coaches had their work cut out for them.”

But Andy said that none of it would have been possible without their sponsors. “I’m lucky that working in the mine has allowed me to attract major sponsorship from ADS (Australian Drilling Systems) and our local pub the Gunnedah Courthouse Hotel who have been with us since the start and also sponsor the junior competition.”

Other sponsors include two Newcastle based companies ARC Mining and ALFABS Engineering who have generously sponsored the senior side. Gunnedah Leather Processors (GLP) also sponsor the club.

Andy concluded by praising someone who has been by his side throughout his 25 years of mining and playing the game; his wife Helen. “She gets the brunt of my moods after poor games or when the team isn’t doing well,” he said.

“She became the clubs secretary over a year ago and had a massive hand in securing a grant for club upgrades and I am proud of what she does for the club.”

“Mentioning her might get her to stay next year!”

Following in his footsteps, Andy’s three children are also playing. Andy coaches his sons 5/6’s team and absolutely loves it.

It’s amazing to see so much passion for the sport from Andy and the rest of his team members. Let’s hope to see both Gunnedah FC senior teams in the finals for 2020!

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Good. Better. Best.



Hitachi’s range of mining excavators is a dominant force in Australia. With six machines in their mining line up, they have a solution for every size and type of mine, from the versatile 120t EX1200-7 excavator through to their EX8000-6 weighing in at a whopping 837t.

Available in backhoe and face shovel configurations, these machines are highly regarded and operate globally. Instantly recognisable in their distinctive Hitachi orange, you’re most likely to find the EX2600, EX3600 and EX5600 backhoes working in the Valley.

Sitting in the sweet spot of Hitachi’s diggers is the EX3600. A stalwart of the Australian mining industry, Hitachi has deployed locally over 100 of these 370t excavators since launching the EX3600-5. Now in its third iteration, the Japanese manufactured EX3600-7 is Hitachi’s latest generation machine built upon industry feedback and the Company’s learnings in the field to produce more fuel efficient product for customers.

In a development immediately broadening the appeal of this excavator, miners now have an option of power plant with both the Cummins QSKTA60 or MTU 12V4000 on offer.

Combined with improvements in the machine’s hydraulic system, operators can reasonably expect reductions in fuel consumption between 4 – 7% compared with the previous model (the EX3600-6 with Cummins engine configuration). Further, intelligent management systems including main pump electric regulators on each individually controlled hydraulic pump as well as, a hydraulic regeneration circuit, permit this machine reduced pump demand, enhancing engine power, lowering fuel consumption and increasing productivity.

All too aware of the detrimental effects of dust and moisture ingress, Hitachi has introduced slit-less solid conduit harnesses and junction boxes. In the instance of damage, electrical harnesses between junction boxes can be replaced individually, ultimately reducing maintenance time and cost. Likewise, the cab riser now features a pressuriser system to minimise dust infiltration and extend the service life of electronic components within.

Improving upon a product that customers already like, the hydraulic hoses between the boom and main piping have been rearranged from an arch to underslung configuration removing the need for clamps, reducing deflection and increasing reliability. And I could go on, with features too numerous to contemplate in this article.

Find out more today by contacting your local Hitachi representative or go online at


Continue Reading


NSW Leads Nation with New Facility



Australia’s only independent underground mine explosives testing facility has opened at Freeman’s Waterhole NSW.

Paving the way for improvements in mine safety and innovation in the mining industry, the new testing facility is under the control of the NSW Resources Regulator’s Mine Safety Technology Centre (RR).

The facility, which is discreetly built on the site of a quarry to reduce impact on the surrounding environment, will be used to determine if locally made explosives are viable and meet vital safety requirements to protect the wellbeing of workers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro recently launched the first round of explosives testing at the new facility and stated that it positions NSW as the nation’s leader in mine safety development.

“Currently, there are few explosives that can be used in underground coal mines and these kinds of explosives have a very short shelf life, they don’t travel well and need to be developed and tested locally,” Mr Barilaro said.

The RR is responsible for regulating the mining industry in NSW, which includes work, health safety matters through to environmental issues such as mine rehabilitation.

Anthony Keon, Executive Director of the Resources Regulator said the new testing facility is critical to ensure that people can have confidence in the materials and explosives being used underground. “The establishment of this facility will ensure that we’re not stifling innovation,” said Anthony.

“It will give industry and explosive manufacturers access to this test which has previously been unavailable for almost decades.

“There are limited facilities of this type throughout the world and because of the limited shelf life on these products we really need something locally based in order to open up those opportunities for NSW companies and for the NSW mining industry.”

“What the test is trying to do is ensure that explosives when used properly don’t ignite methane; and we’ve seen through numerous incidents throughout the world and even recently in Queensland the ramifications of when there isn’t an ignition of methane.”

Geoff Slater, Manager at Mine Safety Technology Centre said the development of explosives specifically for underground coal mines started back in the1890s at the Greenwich Naval Facility London. Early tests used a small bore cannon and this influenced majority of test facilities since that time.

“The facility at Freemans Waterhole uses concrete culverts and water bags to reduce the noise emissions during testing,” said Geoff.

“Extensive computer simulations were used to determine the best optimum use of the water.”

Test rounds at the facility will be scheduled to meet the needs of industry, at up to two to three times per year, restricted to work hours on weekdays.

Continue Reading


Students Have A Yarn



St James’ Muswellbrook welcomes a newly constructed yarning circle thanks to the generosity of Malabar Resources.

Fully funded by Malabar, the Yarning Circle will give students and teachers at St James’ Primary School in Muswellbrook the opportunity to sit together and enhance their understanding of Indigenous culture.

A Yarning Circle is an important part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and a harmonious and collaborative way of communicating. It promotes respectful relationships and provides an open environment to share cultural knowledge.

In August Malabar designed and installed the Yarning Circle which involved the placement of more than 5000kg of sandstone blocks.

Malabar’s Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Donna McLaughlin said, “We are delighted to continue building our relationship with St James’ and other schools in the region by providing resources that help their specific needs.”

“We look forward to seeing the Yarning Circle develop as native plants and artwork are added to the space, which will further facilitate cultural learning and understanding.”

The new space was enthusiastically received by students. “Thank you for this amazing and respectful area where we can teach others about our customs and traditions,” said year 6 student Tushawn.

St James’ Aboriginal Education Teacher, Tania Thompson expressed how thankful they are to have a designated place for our CREST Crew to meet and yarn.

“When we meet as a whole group from K-6 around the Yarning Circle, it gives students the opportunity to bond, form strong ties, and unite as one mob,” she said.

“Communicating, sharing and problem solving as a team are some of the extremely important life skills that we refine when meeting for Yarning Circle.”

“We learn to listen to one another and to respect the ideas and opinions of others regardless of their age, as we all have wisdom to share.”

St James’ will use the Yarning Circle as an extension of their classrooms and teaching practice to foster knowledge of Indigenous culture by engaging both indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.

Continue Reading