AFL Round 5: The View from Shepparton

I must say that I begin this week’s effort in an introspective mood because despite my love of sport, in particular “the footy”, sometimes in the real world, events occur almost  like a tsunami  which overtakes everybody and everything in its wake.

Such is the situation here in my home town of Shepparton where the local cannery, SPC Ardmona, the major employer  of the district, has cut local fruit suppliers off at the knees by advising mid season that, and I quote from today’s The Australian, “..SPC Ardmona told 114 farmers last week that their quota for next summer would be axed or greatly reduced. The company slashed by half its pear and peach intake for the 2013 summer harvest and reduced processing at its Shepparton cannery to one day shift. SPC Ardmona says that it can no longer compete with cheap canned imports from South Africa, Argentina and China because of rising labour costs, the increased cost of fruit production on farm and the high dollar”. One grower will this morning “start uprooting 5500 peach trees at a cost of $30,000 but (he) has no idea how his family business will survive the loss of 60% of its income overnight”.

One can try to be a dispassionate economic rationalist and say that like the car industry there is no longer any point in throwing money at impossible dreams but by crikey when it hits home like this, like in the car industry it is extremely difficult to accept such economic rationalism as being much good for the country. And here in the local Lutheran Church of which I am a member we have many “African” (Sudanese, Congolese, Burundians) who came to this town for the type of casual labour which the fruit industry previously offered. What will happen to them and our magnificent African choir which absolutely wowed 6000 plus people in Adelaide a couple of Sundays ago at a service held to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the commencement of the Lutheran faith in Australia. And what about  all of the small businesses here which are already struggling?

The bottom line, be it emotive or otherwise is, how many hopes and dreams have been smashed in the last week?

Anyway, that’s where I am coming from today.

I produced a great “view” for round four. Except that I didn’t because I couldn’t get my dopey computer on line. Well perhaps I am the dope or perhaps I should have taken some for all of the good my messing around achieved. So forget round four.

The good news for round five is that Brisbane won, starting again as I have previously suggested their onward march to premiership glory. What legends they will be. Cynical observers will of course carp and criticise this analysis in an attempt to talk down this magnificent win by asking, “ well yes but what team was it that they defeated”? It was Melbourne actually who had been on a winning streak of one, the team that had kicked twelve goals in the last quarter of their last match against the up and comers, Greater Western Sydney. So I am totally confident that now that the test is coming for the Lions in their next few matches that they will be up to it. Winning against Sydney at home won’t of course be easy but by golly they will do it. I reckon that Zorko and as ever Leuenberger (who will be one day a household name such that the average individual will able to spell his name from memory) are the players to watch for the Lions.

Richmond was robbed by the goal umpire being in the wrong place, simple as that. I have refrained as I always do from reading other posts so that my judgement such as it is won’t be coloured but really if I were a Tigers barracker I would be totally pissed off. Which seems to be the permanent state of mind of Jack Riewoldt. How his sulking attitude helps the team is beyond me. In terms of the overall situation I really do hope that Richmond get more of the rub of the green for the rest of the year. The number of close finishes that they have been on the wrong side of is countless.

All of my Essendon mates are pretty happy and why wouldn’t they be, they are playing fantastically well but there is still the elephant in the room. I really do hope that they are and were  clean but at present the evidence relating to last year is as I see it is pretty ordinary. On the field of play where it really counts the Maggies must be sick and tired of Zaharakis, he played an inspired game. I just love these Anzac Day clashes, even as an avowed interstater I have to admit that the Pies and the Bombers have the mortgage on this game.

Which gets me to the “other” Anzac day clash. I reckon it was or is a great idea to play a meaningful match across the ditch on that day. After all, Anzac Day is a celebration for two countries, not just one. It’s a pity that the prevailing ground conditions did not allow for a better standard of play but the fact that the game was played in New Zealand at all was a win. How I would love to see a Collingwood v Auckland game one day, not in my lifetime if ever unfortunately. Sydney was clearly the better side.  St Kilda are definitely battling to stay with the pace this year.

As I have stated before, as a Norwood man I am no fan of Port Adelaide but how they came back from the dead did leave me in admiration of the character of the side. On the other hand this was a devastating loss for West Coast who looked like the West Coast of old whilst I was watching in the first half. The Weagles, like St Kilda, are also one and four. They (Port) still have real tests to come but 5 zip is a damned good start, may they continue. In fact they have engendered the sort of interest that would in occur in Melbourne if the Dees could pick themselves up in a similar fashion.

The Western Bulldogs gave a much better account of themselves against the Cats than most expected but they were always behind. Really the structure of the teams this year is starting to become apparent and Footscray are again at the wrong end of the table. Geelong are said not to have played well but their “not well” is still too much for anyone so far this year.

As a sort of honorary Crows supporter I doubt that they would have got up against the Blues given the trend of the game but Taylor Walker’s injury was a real blow for the club, and the way it happened seemed so innocuous. I am not sure if I am right or not but I seem to recall that Neil Craig wouldn’t play him because he would not chase enough when the ball  was being cleared  by the opposition out of the Crows forward line. How ironic then that his season ending injury should have occurred when he was doing just that. Having said that, Carlton are playing like they were at the beginning of 2011. I don’t know if this is a result of Mick’s coaching or not but when they get it all together it is fantastic to watch. I often hear it said that the footy isn’t what it used to be, it isn’t, its better. To see Yarran getting on a break is one of the best sights in footy. So Carlton were way too good but nevertheless I admired the way that the Crows came back in the last quarter particularly given that their whole forward structure was messed up. It didn’t result in a win for them course but they showed real character in not being blown away by ten goals or more which often happens these days when a team gets a break.

I reckon that the Gold Coast really showed something, sure they were playing the Sprawls but this bloke Dixon made me sit up and take notice. Once again GWS faded badly in the last quarter whereas in the second quarter they had made a sort of comeback after the Suns had put in an avalanche of goals in what to the end of the second quarter had been their best ever effort in the AFL superseded of course by the eight goals four in the last quarter.

Have I left the best match until last, probably but I could only enjoy the last quarter from a distance  as one of my best long standing mates  from interstate chose that time to have deep and meaningful phone call which whilst most welcome was at exactly the wrong time. The trouble for me was or is that during the footy season, particularly since I “got” Foxtel anytime is likely to be the wrong time. North Melbourne are another team which with any luck at all would have at least three wins this year. So, they are now struggling as well. Sport is so unfair sometimes. Cyril Rioli gives us another example of this, injured just when he is at the height of his powers. How our indigenous players have enriched our game. Anyway, often there are blowouts in Rules as compared to other codes where because the scoring is much tighter there is always a chance of a comeback against the run of play, but when the scores are close at the end of our game there is no better spectacle, except at the final siren for the team that loses.

Highlight of the week. Yarran streaming towards goal and to be fair the Travis Robinson of Penrith with his length of the field try against Parramatta last night.

Lo Light Shepparton. What more can I say?

About Peter Schumacher

Wannabe footy commentator and writer, used to be a wannabe footballer


  1. Ben Footner says

    Sad to hear about the cannery, I remember visiting as a kid on holidays. My dad love visiting factories, I recall going to a cheese factory and a the Campbells soup factory as well – he bought a slab of ‘Cream of Chicken’ soup and that’s all we ate for the rest of the holiday!

    Take heart from the recent situation here in Adelaide with the family owned business Spring Gully. They came out and said they were in trouble and the state rallied, cleaning the stock off the shelves of every supermarket in the state within days of the announcement. It was quite amazing – perhaps SPC could learn from it and run a similar campaign.

  2. Dr Rocket says

    Great shame about SPC Ardmona.

    Wonder what would have happened if they’d remained as co-ops…?

    I see where the old Girgarre Heinz crew have started a food processing plant as a co-op in Kyabram. My father used to make blue-vein cheese at the old Gig cheese factory.

    Meanwhile, I see that Benalla knocked off reigning premier Tat.

  3. Peter Schumacher says

    Hi Ben,

    SPC did go down the path of appealing to the general public to save the business about twenty years ago as I recall. We were living on the Sunshine Coast then with no particular knowledge or emotional involvement with them but even then we did make a point of buying at least one can of their produce as some sort of gesture of support.

    I am not sure why it couldn’t be tried again, I’d be guessing but there could be a few reasons why it wouldn’t go today. It is not now the small country co-operative that it was then but rather is a very small part of the Coca Cola Amital conglomerate and as such any such campaign might not capture the general support given to the original campaign which did indeed turn SPC as it then was around. It could be the be the costs now involved in growing and processing the produce, the fact, as I understand it at least, that the product now relies very much on foreign markets and that given the high Aussie dollar it just is not competitive in such markets. It could be that in Australian suoermarkets their products are being undercut by cheap imports.

    Having said that I can’t see why a local appeal wouldn’t go. I am aware of Spring Gully, having just spent a week in Adelaide and agree that that company appears to have been turned around which I reckon would be fantastic for everyone who is interested.

    For Dr Rocket

    As for remaining a co-op I reckon that the factors noted above would have killed them.

    I have to admit to my shame that I am not across the local scene the way that I could and should be particularly given that the standard here is pretty bloody good.

  4. Stephen Cooke says

    Hi Peter,
    I was in Shepparton just yesterday – drove past huge areas of young trees and wondering now whether they will be bulldozed into the ground.
    As soon as Coca Cola bought them, the writing was on the wall I think. Empty shops in the main street of Shepparton and there will be more if the local farming scene is left to rot like this.

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