Almanac Art: Footy Fun Day


Jack Riewoldt rode his bike to school today.

Fully clad in his Tiger gear; the number 8 on his jumper, black shorts, yellow and black socks. Runners, not boots, on his feet.

He pedalled a 16 inch Malvern Star BMX that was also in the right colours, yellow and black. I call it the Tiger Bike.

The bike was bought in the township of St.Arnaud on Cox Plate Day 2011. I had gone up to this old gold mining town for a weekend away with the family to relax and to go to the races, country style, not to buy a bike.

St. Arnaud is a town that sits quietly at the junction of the Wimmera and Sunraysia Highways; quietly minding its own business as the rest of the world busies itself with a more frantic way of living. It has a long strip of beautiful shop fronts. Many are empty though. It has an Edna Walling garden, a municipal pool without a slide and a pub aptly named the Farmers Arms.

It is a town full of surprises.

When I was there I came across  a department store up the street. Not one of the big chain stores you find in the city but a little independent one whose name I can’t remember. It had everything in it that anyone could ever need in life; it had fishing tackle, bait, hooks and all those fiddly things that go with angling; it had furniture, clothing, haberdashery and terry towelling  grow suits for newborns; it had bras in every size imaginable, hanging alongside the XXXL high visibility vests.

This store had it all.

Somewhere nestled amongst the oddity of all these things mixed in together, a new Malvern Star bike in yellow and black stood out. It looked at us like an unloved puppy in a pet shop window, begging to be taken into a loving home. It was expensive and far too big for my then six year old. The bike was bought on impulse simply because of its colours, yellow and black.

That was two years ago.

Today, you may have seen Jack Riewoldt riding to school on his bike, or you may have seen Paul Chapman, Buddy Franklin or Dane Swan doing the same. In case you are wondering why, many of the local school kids are celebrating  Footy Fun Day, or Footy Colours Day, this month by wearing their team colours in support of a charity.

This morning at my son’s school, I witnessed a football parade that was a sea of vibrant colours set against a background of themed songs that drew choruses of cheers, jeers and roars. A delightful sense of fun and friendship united these children, their teachers and families. Everyone participated.

Our school raised money for an organisation that looks after kids and families going through the rigours of cancer. Kids who are too ill to easily celebrate the small joys in life such as riding bikes and dressing up as one’s favourite footy player. Kids too, who may no longer be with us and whose families grieve daily for that which they miss.

Today was a fun day.

And all is good.


  1. Cat from the Country says

    Delightul story. There are surprises galore in the Country.
    In the MCDFNL my town Carisbrook has two teams in grandfinals this week. The twos and the 15 & under. Unfortuately the seniors lost only one game all season and that was lasy week’s Preliminary Final!
    So all town pride hangs on these two teams.
    Go the Redbacks!

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Enjoyable Read while society has gone backwards in so many ways it is days like this supporting a worthwhile cause where there ha been a huge progression These ar far more frequent at my kids school now than I can remember a a kid and a chance to dress up as a Footballer is something I never would have forgotten
    Seems like a Great Shop too !

  3. Kate

    It’s a great day for the kids. My Year 6 daughter doesn’t really follow football, save for wanting her brother to do well when playing. She adopted the Swans a few years back so at least she had a team on Footy Day, primarly because red and white made pink, so it made sense to her.

    But small Swans numbers at the school meant she felt she stood out too much, so she borrowed by Tigers scarf last year and again yesterday, which meant she was very much in the majority.

    The school had 4 players along, and she’s come home quite impressed with their size and cuteness, which is a whole other thing for her dad to have to look forward to.

    Lot of colour yesterday, photos, autographs, very little school work, so a lot of happy kids

    Keep the art coming


  4. Kate,


    Our nanny comes from St Arnaud. Her Dad is the pharmacist there.

    WEG cartoons has its headquarters there!

    On a slightly related matter: the Merri Creek Primary Musical ‘Imagine’ has just been performed to sell-out crowds at the Darebin Entertainment Centre. Theo’s prep class played a critical role: they were sheep. And very cute they looked too. However, Archie sheep, from a Pies family, painted Collingwood stripes on his costume. (He looked fantatsic). Excellent production all round.

    Loving your pieces and their warm stories.


  5. Thanks for reading my piece.

    I didn’t know WEG had his headquarters in St.Arnaud, and as I said it was a town full of surprises; friendly too….I even got to meet the local constable at the gate of the race course as we exited the St.Arnaud Cup that weekend!

    When I was of primary school age I chose Carlton as my team; the reason being I had won one of those put a mark where the ball is in the local Sunbury Gazette. I won what felt like lots of money that I got to spend at the local sports store. I had to make a decision and so I chose carlton because I liked navy, Bruce Doull and Jezzalenko.

    That was quite a while ago and I now live on the other side of the Yarra and have more of a leaning towards the tigers.

    Love the idea of a black sheep in amongst a prep class full of, I am guessing, white sheep…. Lamb Pie


  6. Peter Fuller says

    You continue to give me cause for concern. Your apostasy in deserting the Blues all those years ago seems now to have afflicted your offspring. Even if your daughter couldn’t find her way home to the one true faith of the Church of the Navy Blue, you missed a parenting opportunity to encourage her to stand up for her principles by sticking with the Swans even when she is in the minority.

    I am also concerned that you seem to have infected Kate with this same waywardness, with her confession that she has abandoned her Carlton allegiance and gone over to (one of) the dark side(s). Kate, I find it gratifying that your childhood self understood the truism: all footballers, all women, and almost all men look better in navy blue.

  7. Peter

    If it makes you feel any better, my girl had a photo taken with Kane Lucas yesterday and thought he was very cute. I have never heard her say any boy was cute before.

    She could have taken her brother’s Hawks scarf, but went with mine. I think she’d rather be popular hence the sensible lack of Carlton interest.

    She’ll probably just barrack for whomever her older brother plays for (and if he’s talented enough one day and drafted by the Blues, there’s that Karma bus travelling down the road)


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