The day love came to town

Fev kicking one of 18 goals for New Norfolk

Fev celebrates with his New Norfolk teammates

 

The community of New Norfolk, a township about 22 miles north-west of Tasmania’s capital Hobart, has been having a tough time lately. They have been on the receiving end of a spate of fires; some pyromania, others unfortunate. They needed a lift and like so many country towns these days, their footy club is a good barometer.

The home of their team, The New Norfolk Eagles, is big Boyer oval, known locally as ‘the oval’ and last Saturday it was pumping. Some say it was the biggest single gathering in the town ever. Even bigger than Armistice Day or former Town Warden and ‘king of the kids’ Tom Andrews’ 100th birthday.

Former AFL star Brendon Fevola was due in town amid hype and fanfare befitting a rock star. He metaphorically swaggered into town like a gunslinger on important business. He was here to kick goals and when reminded that the club record was 14 he announced to the Old Players’ luncheon, “I’ll kick more.” The Derwent Valley is tough country where cheap talk is quickly tested. In these parts not many survive that scrutiny. Fevvy had a 2 o’clock appointment as over 4000 fans awaited.

Preparations had been going on for months. Club officials proudly sported their blazers and logo adorned polo tops as they hurried about. Everyone was busy. One suspects to be an office bearer on days like these had finally conferred their importance. It’s amazing how these tests unearth the incompetent. So much work had gone into the event that the footy club had appointed a Director of Pies. The local paper, The Derwent Valley Gazette, had included Fevvy cut-out masks in their dedicated double page spread. The club published a Fevvy ‘Uncle Sam’ promotional poster and heaven forbid New Norfolk football had reached agenda status on Hobart radio bulletins!

Inside the oval Eagle fans were greeted by the inspirational sounds of Up There Cazaly. For a fleeting moment I wondered if we were at a mullet and rat-tail convention. Not carrying a stubby, I felt naked. There were people everywhere. Some not sighted in these parts in years. I spotted old Jack Trifiitt; he’d be well over 90. He holds the Tassy record for logging the most hardwood on a single-bogey truck in a year. He was accompanied by his son ‘young’ Jack and his boy John. With them was John’s son Troy with his wife Brittany with their youngest: Beau. Five generations, they’d travelled from deep in the Central Highlands for the game. Troy informed me that pop (that’s young Jack) had seen this bloke (Fevvy) on pay TV at the Interlaken pub and reckoned he could play. Old Jack, a little unsure of his location enquired if it was grand final day. Among the crowd were families of Triffitts, Triffits, Triffetts, TrIffets, Trifitts, Trifits, Trifetts, TrIfets, Triffittes, Triffites, Triffettes, TrIffetes Trivets and their nemesis the Pearce’s; I won’t go on.

The seniors were warming up while the reserves, in post-game rehab mode, rehydrated with a can of XXXX Gold and a smoke. The day was clear and crisp while my perennial travelling partner Lezzy had penetrometer-rated the ground as a slow 6. We made a bee line for a spot in the forward pocket in the hope we’d be near Christians. Fevvy appeared soon after in a tailor-made number 25 guernsey, carrying a bit. In fact he looked like he’d been in that big spring paddock that Black Caviar enjoys. Did he still have it? Only time would tell.

Game underway and Fevvy soon made contact. Following a lead his long range shot was marked by a team mate on the goal line who converted. Fevvy soon followed with one of his own. The crowd erupted. Quarter time arrived and Fevvy had amassed 5 marks and kicked 2.3. The subsequent quarter-time huddle was bigger than some game day crowds. It was littered with politicians, farming cockies, captains of industry and us; the rank and file or as Barry Dickens would say the proletariat. They texted, tweeted and filmed. The less fortunate simply gazed. Ex player Deano King held aloft the Team Measures Board: No Sacrifice – No Victory it read. Adjacent Dale Fenton held the Toyota Team Tactics board. Team tactics, I pondered…. Um? Meanwhile Coach Matty Smith implored his players to,”Keep it (forward line) open for the ‘big bloke’; because he will do the rest.” The kids changed ends to be near the star.

The second quarter saw the ‘big bloke’ move a bit more freely and soon he had another. I was somewhat concerned each time he went to ground he resembled a medieval knight as he struggled to regain his feet. The old, “I’m injured, I’m going off” syndrome always lurks aback my mind with these mercenary dudes. His slowness to return to the upright position rekindled my childhood memories of Vivian ‘Mopey’ (Aeroplane) Eiszele, a similarly clad Eagle player who would spectate for inordinate periods once tackled to the ground. So much so that play would move up field and often return to his area before he had arisen. But to my surprise Fevvy kept getting up and providing a contest; in other words having a go.

Half time arrived and Fevvy had more than had a go. He had racked up 10 marks and had 5.4 beside his name. Word must have spread that something was going on at the oval. The gates kept ticking as punters continued to stream in at $8 a head. This was unheard of in recent times. Like outback rain, some had never experienced it. Most clubs throw the gates open about 10 minutes after kick off such is the demise of local footy. The beerometer was reaching redline such was the anticipation.

The third quarter meandered along with Fevvy snagging one then another at regular but not frequent intervals. Come three-quarter time and a quick tally revealed he had surprisingly booted 10. The resulting huddle was bigger than before as fans tried to get close. As Fevvy made his way back to his spot in the goal square women moved closer for photos and autographs, some even kissed him. “No more, after the game.” Fevvy pleaded. He took up his spot right in the middle of the goal square, in front of the boozer, at the scoring end, no breeze, no rain. Were we about to behold something extraordinary, I wondered?

Last quarter underway and Fevvy had another within a minute. In fact he had another five within six minutes and missed a sitter from about 15 metres out on the move (as opposed to run). His 16th came from deep in the right hand pocket, against the boundary, check side dribble. The crowd went wild. They were one. Enemies were friends. Pearce’s were dancing with Triffitts. Grahams were cuddling Gleesons. The beerometer redlined. Two more from Fevvy; the last a screw round the body from the left pocket as the siren sounded.

Fans, reporters, cameramen, you name ‘em streamed onto the field. Love was in the air.

A bloke in the wet area ignited a drum, some say for warmth. The fires had started.

Comments

  1. I had no time for Fev before reading this. Now I want a piece of him too! Great stuff Daryl

  2. Sounds like a great arvo Daryl, and a good investment.

    We were offered it up on the NW Coast but the non negotiable 15k cash up front (as soon as he got there) and another five on Saturday night was just a bit too much of a risk.

    The ABC support, for local footy, was extensive and good.

  3. BrianRice says:

    As a New Norfolk native (now residing in Coffs Harbour) who spent many a freezing Saturday at Boyer oval, this brought back a lot of memories – do they still sell saveloys out of the big drums of pink greasy water?

    Great article but are you sure Pearces were dancing with Triffitts?? That can’t be right surely!

  4. Excellent. I was at Boyer for the first time in 30 years. The crowd description was accurate – and as it was 30 years ago. The Director of Pies was in good form too. More National Pies stands than goals by Fev.

  5. Peter_B says:

    Great stuff, Daryl. 4,000 @ $8 a head plus bar takings sounds like a win/win. Good luck to Fev. So long as it ended up in the missus’ pocket and not at Elwick. From what I’ve seen on (dare I say) DTWTS, it looks like he’s having a real go at turning his life around.
    We all do what we have to do to make amends. Fev is a good news story for everyone if he can keep his head straight.

  6. pamela sherpa says:

    Sounds like an amazing day our for all concerned. What was Fev’s opposition like Daryl ? Did he have a few different opponents during the course of the game? Would love to know what the opposition strategy for Fev was.

  7. Daryl Sharpen says:

    Hello Brian. i went to school with Greg (my year) and Chuck. Don’t blame you for moving to Coff’s Harbour. those Eagle winters are a bit harsh. Savs? Yes those big green barrels filled with pink greasy water, no change there. I think they are the same ones you ate of at High School. You can, and have been able to for years, get ‘special coffees’ now with a shot of your favourite. Pearces & Triffitts? Well from where I watched it seemed that way. I think it’s called ‘poetic licence’ maybe. Mind you the Rainbirds just watched and kept to themselves, as they do.
    On a serious note the club enabled the junior clubs to have a tent and raise something for themselves.
    Also a big fund raiser down in Hobart is ‘give me 5 for kids’ – it supports the kids ward at the Royal Hobart Hospital. All reports the tin rattlers at the gate got $2K as well.
    Fevvy was very obliging with nothing a trouble. The club also had a very profitable ‘footy night’ the day before. The club took the punt and it paid off big time. Good on ’em, I say. It was virtually the equivalent to a premiership night afterwards, 3 am finish. Phantom might have overstated his fee, a bit.
    Finally Pamela the Eagles are a good unit in this league. They have won 2 outa last 3 flags and going OK this season too. The opposition aren’t up to them but not totally bereft of ability either. This is the second tier level of footy in the state. i spoke to Huonville’s coach Mark Hoyle after the game and he said he only intended trying two blokes on him. The usual suspects – regular full back and CH Back. He reckoned he had no-one who could control him and just let those two blokes play on him to learn, which I thought was a smart move.
    The backs were sitting ducks as he could lead out and they kept the forward line open with mostly only two big forwards and one rodent. The Eagles midfield is a hot lot for this comp. Also when they bombed it in he just held the back man of or nudged him late and marked. He’s got all the skills. Reminded me of Hudson when he played here after his AFL career.

  8. Daryl – Am I right that Peter Hudson came from and played for New Norfolk, before and after his Hawthorn career? But they were in the Tassie ‘big league’ back then?
    Of all the greats of my youth, I reckon Hudson is the hardest to describe how he played and why he was so good? It was like magic. Like he could somehow read the fall of the ball better than anyone, and stand his ground, and it somehow fell in his lap like magic. Again and again and again.
    And its not like Wes Lofts et al were mugs.
    I have no idea how he did it. Any thoughts?
    Then he’d wander back – and I mean wander – and chip it through with those good ordinary flat punts.
    Now Peter McKenna drop punts or Doug Wade torps ‘looked like’ how full forwards were supposed to kick. But Hudson just kept getting results.
    The most extraordinary ‘good ordinary’ champion ever.
    Any thoughts Knackers?

  9. ChuckRice says:

    Daryl,
    Mention of Mopey Eiszle had me swooning with nostalgia
    Great piece. Reminded me of the day the pine trees at the Back River Road end mysteriously caught fire mid match.

  10. My comment of 5.37 was 14 minutes after one brother, and about 6 1/2 hours before the other! Derwent Valley families stick tight.

  11. Daryl Sharpen says:

    Peter B: The great P Hudson played with the Eagles fresh out of school. He played soccer as a little tacker and some say this gave him his uncanny ability to stay upright, unlike Mopey Eiszele. He kicked a ton 2 or three times as a teenager with New Norfolk in the 60’s before going to the Hawks. He kicked 42 one day – 18 for the high school in the morning and 24 for Upper Derwent in the afternoon – his father coached the latter. They went premiers and he celebrated with a raspberry in the car with his mother outside the Gretna Green Hotel. Drinking age was 21 back then. He was leading goal kicker in the 1966 carnival in Hobart before joining Hawthorn in 1967. His record there you all know but everyone overlooks one thing. They all talk about equalling Bob Pratt’s record (150 goals) in 1971 after Kevin Cowboy Neale chopped his ear off and put him down for a count of about 267 in the grand final. That aside have a beau peep of his 1970 effort. To save you all the google 146 my friends. Hawthorn never made the finals, finished 8th! Hard to compare anything from different eras, but there has not been a better full forward than this bloke. Did his knee and returned to Tasssy to coach and play for Glenorchy. Kicked 192 one year. Then went back to Hawthorn and kicked 110. I’ve got a 100 stories about this fellow. Booby Woods and I saw him creep off the bench for Glenorchy one day in a final against Hobart. 19 mins gone first quarter. Hobart captain/coached by Paul Sproule (ex Essendon/Richmond). Less than 20 seconds on the ground and booted his first; ended with 14 straight before he was booed for missing number 15. Used the old flat punt – we called it the Arabian Torp. His philosophy was simple. Kick it how you felt comfortable, aim for something behind and between the goals – generally the clock at North Hobart – and never take your eye off the ball ’til it left your boot. Like a golfer – never lift your head. Regarding his ground play he was a wonderful spectator and still is – simply watched the ball.. Everyone else watched him. Eventually he got extra good at reading where the ball was likely to end up.

  12. Daryl Sharpen says:

    Greg, Chuck & Brian (descending order) a clue – second avenue, just above Clydie Fitzgerald’s shop. Everyone remembers and talks about the pine trees catching alight. They reckon Danny Maddox did it. He always had matches. They say his bad thumb was done with a fire cracker. I reckon chromosomes had something to do with it. Line breeding can go too far you know. He robbed Noel Hardwick of his lunch money on the bridge one day and spent it on fireworks at Angelo’s Eagle Snack Bar. Anyway good to hear from you boys, we must catch up one day. And good to see you are as solid as ever; True Eagles! What about the Lou Rice Trio!

  13. ChuckRice says:

    Uncle Lew is doing it solo these days. Well into his 90’s, which suggests better genes than some other DV families.
    Would indeed be great to catch up……….Looking forward to your next missive.

  14. pamela sherpa says:

    Great to read your account of watching Hudson play Daryl.

  15. Phantom says:

    “Daryl” I was talking to young Terry Morris regarding NTFL votes on Saturday night.

    Quite enlightening.

    Will catch up with you.

    Cheers.

  16. Daryl Sharpen says:

    I reckon I’ll see big Tell on Sunday at the Tapeta in Devonport. Regarding votes, it will be interesting to see if Fevvy gets the votes in the William Leitch medal (League B&F) for that round. My mate (Lezzy) reckons had he stayed he probably would have kept his spot.

  17. Daryl Sharpen says:

    Footnote: Footy followers throughout Australia will be pleased to know that Fevvy received three (3) umpires votes in the Southern Football League best and fairest count on Monday night. Honours for the William Leitch medal went to his team mate and co-forward, Michael Thompson. ‘Thommo’ kicked 101 goals in the roster series this year for the Eagles. The Eagles are into the grand final this coming Saturday, 15 Sept 2012.

  18. Daryl Sharpen says:

    New Norfolk Eagles 10.18 – 78 defeated Lindisfarne Blues 11.7 – 73. Eagles were 7 goals down early in the second quarter, hit the front about the 10 minute mark of the last quarter and held on to win by 5 pts. Brad Carver Eagle ruckman/forward won the medal. Rover and team mate, Roger Belcher was an excellent contributor all day and wasn’t far behind for the award.

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