Almanac Memoir: My Most Enjoyable Sports Injury


Geelong Grammar School, Corio Campus, Clock Tower. (Wikimedia Commons.)


My Most Enjoyable Sports Injury


Let me take you back to the verdant playing fields of the main campus of one of Australia’s most elite private schools, Geelong Grammar School – the year is 1975. I was thirteen at the time. If you picture beautifully green, well-manicured ovals, gently winding, smoothly raked gravel pathways, lovely old stone buildings, a central clock tower, a bell that tolled on the hour, and the adjoining waters of Corio Bay and Limeburners Bay … you’ll have an appropriate image in your head.


Back in those days, Geelong’s private schools would get together – annually, I think – for a track and field meeting. The best athletes from each school would usually be selected for the events in which they specialised – nothing out of the ordinary there. However, for some reason, my school, St Joseph’s College in the leafy, hilly suburb of Newtown, chose me for the High Jump. It was not one of my best events, though possibly my most enjoyable sports injury occurred before I was to compete in track races to which I was better suited, races which were scheduled later that same afternoon. I can’t really remember. Perhaps St Joseph’s selected me for the jumping event as I was their junior school track-and-field champion the year before, and they figured I could do anything.


Whatever the case, there I was, running towards the high jump bar, about to do the Fosbury Flop, the popular style of jumping in which one would arch one’s back and go over the bar in a head-looking-upwards, lying position. (And we’ll freeze the action there, for a moment.)


I’m pretty sure it was my first jump, and (Now hit ‘Play’) my shoulder blades struck the bar – to my considerable annoyance, as I recall. I got out of the pit, still thinking I had another two attempts at achieving the height. Then I looked down and saw the inner part of my left leg. Not far above the ankle, there was a small gash, and when I looked more closely, I saw it was unpleasantly deep. The sight turned my stomach. What had happened was that I’d spiked myself as I was attempting to arch over the bar. The Fosbury Flop involved a legs-going-over-the-bar-last position and, in the process, my right foot had slid slightly up my left leg – my spikes were very sharp, a small slice occurred, and there you have it.


My memory goes blank at around that point. Next thing, I vaguely recall limping down a cloistered path, closely attended to by a middle-aged woman people were referring to as ‘Matron’. We got to a small room with a medical table and Matron, who possessed a pleasantly warm, motherly manner, told me to get up on it. Part of the table was raised at an angle, and a pillow was placed behind my head. Matron bandaged my injury, and covered me with a blanket. Next thing, she made me a cup of tea, gave me a biscuit, and generally fussed over me. I remembered especially enjoying the attention I was getting, thinking it was not very often one had a personal matron attending to one’s needs.


I was in the Geelong Grammar medical room for some time. Probably I had a snooze. I think my parents were phoned to pick me up (quite possibly I went to the athletics carnival in transportation supplied by my school). Next thing I recall, I was lying on the medical table at the clinic of our family doctor in the centre of Geelong, on the corner of Ryrie and Bellarine Streets. I remember sunlight streaming through the wide bay windows of the room as Dr Martin B -, MB, BS, FRACGP, put an injection in the vicinity of the injury and then a couple of stitches: that was a novelty – I’d never had stitches before.


I recall playing the ‘wounded soldier’ for the next few days, relishing the ‘me time’, as I received more special attention than usual. This was certainly my favourite sports injury, as it wasn’t a serious one, and got me considerably more focus than it really merited.




I can still look down at my left leg and see a small scar that reminds me of that long ago day – of the high jump, ‘The Grammar’, Matron, Dr Martin B -, and the sunlight streaming though the wide bay windows.




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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. will purcell says

    you lucked out Kev. location, location,

    contrast; the one and only time I represented Joeys as an athlete; was in a footy game against G College. Was on the front oval (bordered shanon av) at St Joeys. They loaned me a jumper from one of the brothers – big bloke with a bushy black beard, cant remember his name. I tore a knee cartlage just before half time. (still dogs me). and the band drummer (think his name was mayde Fitzgerald or mcdonald) was the trainer. nice lad – but that was the extent of care given to me.
    prognosis was ‘I think you’ll be right’ could not walk, let alone keep playing. Got myself home on the bus and mum drove me to my own GP next day who manipulated, got me back walking again and prescribed the anti inflam. back to school the next day, business as usual.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Great to hear from you, Will. Yes, “location, location” for certain!

    Your story was a fine one, too – shows what can happen if you’re not fortunate like I was. I think the Christian Brother you’re referring to was Br Lloyd. Regarding the trainer/school band drummer, I’m pretty sure it was MacFarlane – he did the training gig at quite a number of St Joey’s football matches. I remember watching him doing his thing at another football match at the school – all he seemed to have on him was a plastic bucket with a bit of water in it, and a scruffy looking bit of cloth. I remember thinking at the time that these things weren’t going to be much help – especially if someone broke a leg, or something similar!

  3. Correct KD. The six original private schools of Victoria, the Associated Public Schools, held an annual track and field carnival each spring. Those schools were/are GGS, Geelong College, Scotch, Wesley, Melbourne Grammar and Xavier. The five extras making up today’s 11 schools — the Second XI if you like — came in much later. And on that main oval at Corio leaving athletics to one side, let’s consider winter footy on that very ground. The southerlies would roar in off Corio and Limeburners’ Bays on winter Saturdays when we were playing APS footy. Can’t recall which end was favoured by the gales but as it was open ground, virtually no trees, scoring at the other end was very, very difficult. Headmaster Dr. James Darling would emerge from his two-storey mansion at three-quarter time, stand outside the huddle and wish us the best of luck for the final stanza. The same Dr. Darling (later Sir James Ralph Darling, chairman of the ABC for about 6 years) came out with one of the best-remembered quotes from his 30-year head mastership.
    Not long after he arrived in Australia as an Englishman virtually straight out of Oxford in early 1930 he was taking a walk along the Limeburners’ Bay beach. Dr. Darling came across a group of lads stretched out on the sand on their towels.
    “Why are you baking your beastly bodies brown?” was his never-to-be-forgotten riposte. Incidentally, St Joey’s produced at least two AFL skippers: Cameron Ling (Geelong), Nick Maxwell (C’wood).
    Were there any others ??

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Richard, for your comments; in the process, you’ve provided some highly interesting (and enjoyable) additional material about Geelong Grammar School.

    Re St Joey’s … they produced many Geelong AFL/VFL footballers, of course, and at least two other captains (apart from Ling and Maxwell): Damian Bourke from 1987-89, and Barry Stoneham, co-captain of the club in 1996 (with Ablett Senior) and captain in his own right in 1997 and 8.

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