Almanac Footy – Country Footy Ovals




We were in Mullewa in the last third of a 3 month travel around W.A., having started at the north and working our way around and south. Mullewa is a small town at the north of the wheatbelt country, but also nearly the capital of wildflower country. We had done most of the tourist things in previous travels, but repeated the trip out to Pindar for the famous wreath flowers. This had a new side benefit in that the tea rooms were again trading from the restored 100 year old double storey hotel building. Who could resist hot m&m laden scones with jam and cream. That’s right, fair dinkum scones, probably CWA approved, baked with several m&m’s inside!



Mullewa is now a pretty small town, with all the usual struggles evident. The main new thing is a very nice art gallery recently opened, where the owner has a grand piano installed. A true grand, weighing 600kgs. and delivered by one man! She also does coffee and things. Unfortunately, there are many vacant shops around, but schools look good and, for the wildflower season, there are many visitors.



So it was that, by Saturday 7 August, having observed a lovely big oval and an attached sporting club promising meals on Saturday nights, I left the petticoat government in charge of the caravan and betook myself down the road. This oval has a side slope to rival Lord’s and the photo shows the view out over the surrounding wheat and canola fields, which look incredible at present. Upon arrival (free entry), I had a choice of spots for the folding chair and saw the last minute of the women’s match, both teams having 18 players, quite a good effort I thought.



One team, wearing a version of St. Kilda’s uniform with the cross design, was warming up a bit outside, so I asked and found out they were Mullewa and the others were “Brigades” from Geraldton. This is where the Great Northern Football League is based. Mullewa thus became my team for the day, but this was the last bright spot.



The full details are now a little blurred and don’t matter a lot. As a précis: first quarter fairly evenly fought, second a bit less so and third quite catastrophic really, with my mob being about 12 goals behind and visibly wilting under the pressure. There is a limit to what one captain can do and he was a very good player, but some others not so. Usual story in such games, a mix of old blokes, slow blokes, overweight blokes, too young blokes, but at least they all turned up and gave it a crack. Some of the athleticism on display was high class, but sustaining it was the problem. Interchange was a very busy part of the oval. Your humble scribe took his leave, not wishing to witness the potential mayhem of the last quarter. One also has to dress for dinner at the Sports Club!



Other impressions? A cricket pitch nearer the half forward flank than centre. Young kid near me with his own footy, a Freo jumper and West Coast socks and shorts. All umpires professionally turned out, field looking like retired bank managers, boundary wagged primary school, goal all look the same in those coats, but I reckon one was a girl. Snickers bars are now made in China; I know because I bought one at half time as a supporter does and read the label, but had eaten half by then and couldn’t return it! Be warned and caveat emptor. Supporters around the boundary tooting horns for goals, but also needing bull bars in case of errant footies.



There was a full quota of officials and players, although the local policeman appeared to be team manager too and it gave the impression of a well run league. No doubt there are many background stories in getting teams like this on the ground and running  the league, but I congratulate all of them, it was a good afternoon. The Commissariat & Politburo at AFL House and all its retinue, baggage trains and assorted minions would probably also be pleased.




The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE


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