Take me out to the ball game

A couple of weeks back my mate Woody texted me a picture of his new footy boots. They were white and green. We were getting ready to play old man’s footy and having a laugh about “not wearing these back in our day”. A couple of hours later Woody called me back. His father had died.


The next Friday around a thousand people gathered at St. Pius Hall in Warrnambool to celebrate the life of Peter Wood. Son. Brother. Cousin. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Played over 600 games of footy. Coach. Captain. President. Mentor. Mad Collingwood fan. Dairy farmer. VB can drinker. Not sure how many premierships but there were a lot.  In delivering a tribute to his mate, Jack Ryan simply stated, when Woody (Peter) was around there were premierships. He was always around.


There were other sports too. Thirty-four marathons including London. Co-founder of the Surf-to-surf fun run in Warrnambool. Only this year a Master’s Games cricket premiership in Alice Springs and back-to-back C grade cricket premierships at Killarney.


As with all of us there are as many stories about Peter as there are people who knew him. And he knew everyone. He and I were leaning against the fence having a beer and watching his beloved Panmure play. My brother was running around in the middle but my eyes were elsewhere. Cars were two and three deep around the boundary. The netball courts were surrounded, the canteen had a long line and the can bar was doing a steady trade. As much as anyone Peter had built this.


Club’s going alright?


People need this. They don’t even have to like footy or sport. They just need somewhere to go.


Thanks to Peter many of us had somewhere to go. And with his cheeky grin and bent fingers made us feel comfortable when we got there.


Peter Wood being chaired from the ground only a few weeks ago. Another premiership.
Photo credit: Sara Beever from Facebook


Peter shared a birthday with my sister Michelle. They were both on my mind when I saw the Tigers take on the Dees on ANZAC eve. Our extended family’s annual footy get together. Michelle’s husband Jerry a two time Afghanistan veteran. Michelle and Mum’s family Demons, me and Dad’s family Tigers. A cracking game. Over 85,000 there. More than that. A chance not to only remember the deeds and suffering of generations past, but the deeds and suffering of those among us now. And to be a family. To have somewhere to go.


Michelle wasn’t at the game. She lives in America far from the songlines she was born on. But a photo she posted a couple of weeks ago shows she has somewhere to go. The song remains the same.



And so life in its complexity goes on. And so does the simplicity of enjoying time with friends and family at a game of sport. Passing time on or around a big green paddock.


On the weekend, Woody and I played our first game of footy together since a ressies premiership for Panmure back in 2002. His old man ran the bench that day. He was happy that we won then and he would have been happy that we helped the Marcellin Bald Eagles twos get over the line on Sunday.



Take me out to the ball game.

I don’t care if I ever get back.

Vale Peter.

About Chris Daley

Tiger fan Chris Daley works in Community Nursing, which has taken him to Perth, Broome and now Dandenong. Being tall, he used to get a game in the ruck playing bush footy outside of Warrnambool.


  1. steve todorovic says:

    Wonderfully evocative piece of writing Chris. A fitting tribute to an old mate that tells us so much about both of you. Peter sure was some sort of character and it certainly seems a life extremely well lived. I can’ t get my head around 34 marathons!! Loved the title…one of the greatest phrases ever written about sport. And yes, that moment of silence at the Anzac Day/Eve match does give us all the chance to reflect on those people who were so special to us, but who are no longer with us.

    Thanks for making a difference with a piece of writing.

  2. E.regnans says:

    Well played, Chris.
    Very well played.
    Thoughts with Woody’s family and friends.

  3. Chris Daley says:

    Thanks fellas

  4. Lovely words big fella. Harv

  5. Marc Raiola says:

    Beautifully written Chris – must have been a great man. Condolences to the “young” Woody and the Wood family. Rav.

  6. Beautifully crafted Chris. A life exceedingly well lived. Condolences to all.

  7. Chris Daley says:

    Thanks again to those who have read and enjoyed. I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend.

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