Short Story: The little Big League

My first game in the little league led to much mirth for the crowd . The little league, back in the day, was played at half time of the big game in the then Victorian Football League. Oh how I wanted to play in it. I was a good footballer but very very small, the runt of the litter. I don’t even know how I was selected to play what being so abnormally small. The beauty was I didn’t realise that I looked absolutely ridiculous. Although we were all ten year olds it was like the little brother of one of the players had followed him on the field.

 

I can still remember the huge expanses of Lakeside Oval where I would represent the then South Melbourne Football Club as we lived in their zone. Every VFL team had a zone where they could select their players from. This was before the draft was introduced. So in many ways it was luck of the draw as to what you turned up out of your zone. Some clubs perhaps worked harder on their zone trying to develop players but in our case no.

In the game I stood out not for my footy ability but for my shorts. They looked huge on me. Although a good little runner I was handicapped as the shorts acted like a parachute when I took off.

 

The crowd laughed and pointed as I joined the scrum of boys vying for the footy. They laughed even more and louder whenever I got the ball and took off with t . I was actually a very good dodger courtesy of British bulldog that we used to play at school. That was where somebody would be picked out to stand out front whilst the rest of us would run to the other side of the oval without being tagged. I could start and stop, spin accelerate and nearly always get away. I was like this in the game and once I got through the congestion would set sail for the goals bouncing all the time. I looked a bit like a circus clown really. You know the ones that ride those ridiculously small tricycles although far too big for them. Or the dwarfs that barrel across the floor running into each other sending the crowd into raptures. We win the game and I more than did my bit and was in fact voted the best player on the ground. How proud I was leading my team off the ground I thought the crowd were cheering when in fact they were pointing and laughing.

 

The following week’s game was at Essendon’s ground better known as Windy Hill. At that time I wondered why they put a ground on a windy hill it didn’t make any sense to a ten year old.

Windy Hill was on the other side of the city – it seemed an eternity away. My father was a policeman and for some reason organised to be driven to the ground in a police car, perhaps Mum needed ours. Anyway I felt as though I was some hero being driven to the ground by an official escort. It was better than when I was brought home in the back of a divvy van years later for drunk and disorderly.

 

The ground was like a Colosseum. I remember the people jammed in and a haze of smoke sitting over them all as they yelled and screamed getting out the frustration of their ordinary everyday lives. For this game I was named in the forward pocket where I was thinking I’d definitely kick three or four goals.  Half time only goes for about sixteen minutes so the game is over in fourtee , two seven minute halves. In the first half the ball never came up my end and of course I had to stay in my position, which I hated. I hated doing anything I was told to do. I think that’s what makes a good footballer. In the second half they tried to get me into the game and so put me in the back pocket. The ball never got down to me again as our midfield rallied and got the ball to our forward  line. The ground was so big for us it was like the trip we took across the city to get the ball from one end to the other. I never touched the ball for the whole fourteen minutes. How humiliating.  This time when we walked off the ground I was at the back of the pack. I was crying.

 

Comments

  1. Cat from the Country says:

    My dad once, in the 1940’s, was full back for his team and got one kick all day, when the opposition kicked its only score for the game, one behind!

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