Almanac Local Footy: The Sandlot




It was sometime during the late 1980s that the idea playing music in the changerooms before a game of footy took on a life of its own. Often, it was the coach who would diligently construct a mixtape of so-called ‘inspirational’ tracks such as (Farnham era) Little River Band’s “Playing to win” and Survivor’s Rocky III anthem “Eye of the Tiger”. There was a belief that such bangers could not fail to get even the most casual of players hyped up while going about their pre-match routines. Yes, really.


The pre-match mixtape evolved to the point where the players themselves assumed responsibility for controlling the boombox; and that’s when the entire exercise collapsed into an amalgam of heavy metal, piss-takes, and disputes over song selection. I recall Tucky being howled down when he suggested that The Pogues’ “Battle March Medley” would offer the perfect backdrop to our team entering the field of play.


And what about movies? Occasionally a film night would be organised, and all at the club would traipse off to a cinema to view either a documentary, an inspirational against-the-odds type tear-jerker, or perhaps a sports-themed flick. Sometimes, in the depths of winter, doing anything other than slogging about on a sodden Fearon Reserve was a blessed relief.


This reminiscing led me to considering what sport-related film I might request our Under 19s boys watch on the night before a big semi-final. Like, say, this coming Saturday night. There are any number of excellent movies in this particular genre from which to choose including, but not limited to, Field of Dreams, Any Given Sunday, Happy Gilmore, The Damned United, Moneyball, Invictus, Million Dollar Baby and Robert Redford’s The Natural, forever a classic in my opinion.


However, it is The Sandlot which is my absolute favourite sports-related movie. Ostensibly a kids’ film set in the early 1960s, the plot of The Sandlot Kids (as it was renamed here in Australia) revolves around a gang of pre-pubescent boys who play scratch baseball games on a vacant block. There are a number of sub-plots: the outsider who is new to the neighbourhood, the angry dog over the fence who steals errant balls, strained family relationships, a few sly winks to the adult audience and, of course, baseball. And who could forget Wendy Peffercorn? It has gained cult status in the US, probably because it encompasses a number of themes which Americans hold dear to their hearts, and it plays to their hankering for better, more innocent times. I suppose the feel-good ending also helps.


I know from experience that it proved a reliable 90-minute pacifier when I required a distraction for my boys when they were younger, so I am guessing that some of the Under 19 lads have already seen the film. But surely it would not hurt to watch it again on Friday night, just to get them in the mood for the big game. Or maybe, failing that, on Sunday morning they could just play all the songs on The Sandlot from start to finish. With early-60s gems such as The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Tequila, Wipe Out and others, I reckon that soundtrack would even get me half-interested in the pre-match warm-up.




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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Love a short story Smokie.
    I don’t play the game but have noticed the boom box is an obligatory item for pre match motivation.
    I’m not sure how effective it is before the game/ my thinking is the brain responds to music and beat once the activity has begun/ and the stress hormones are flowing and before then it can be a distraction. My two bobs worth.
    Good luck under 19’s.

  2. Try Bull Durham for a quality baseball film Smokie. Great music, hilarious performance from Tim Robbins and a nice insight into minor league baseball. Cheers

  3. Daryl Schramm says

    Not pre-match, but as a guest speaker to an umpiring meeting one night around 40 years ago, Daryl Hicks as the Central District coach presented us with Ravel’s Bolero as a ‘motivational training tool’ around teamwork, syncing, crescendo etc. You could try it and threaten to use it again if they don’t play well.

  4. As Rob Gordon should’ve said in High Fidelity, “Top ten musical crimes committed in the name of sport? Number 1- Eye of the Tiger.’

    Thanks Smokie.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Smokie. I’ve not seen The Sandlot but need to check it out after reading this.

    South Colac had the boombox going in the rooms before the second semi final, and boy did it warm my heart when The Living End came on as part of the mix.

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