Carnival of Footy

lightning carnival

image: Half Time

pen and ink wash

This is the J.L. Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne. The oval was host to the Southern Metro Junior Football Carnival on a July Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago.

Hundreds of kids, all about eight or nine years old, mostly boys, but certainly a scattering of girls present also, descended upon the oval to represent their club in this, the season finale.

Vehicles flooded local streets, many having to park miles away. There were entourages consisting of parents, siblings, nonna’s and poppa’s and whole extended gangs, all trudging, plates of food, chairs and footy gear in hand, up Williamstown Road towards the ground; the little ones straggling, dads hastily pushing strollers, the mums on safety patrol whilst bare legged, premiership flag potentials, pummelling the pavement way ahead.

(Recently I visited Ballarat, Sovereign Hill…this scene made me think of all the trudging our colonial forebears must have endured in their trek to the goldfields in the mid 1800’s, and here, a century and a half later, and we are all bemoaning the three, four or five paved streets it takes to get to the ground….ahh the parking!)

The weather held up beautifully with glorious sunshine, and more significantly, temperatures in double figures and no rain. There was no need for gloves or thermals and food was in abundance.

Good food too.

There was a sausage sizzle, coffee cart and the hosting grounds’ club kiosk, all trading briskly in pies, lattes and King Pythons. But the real spread was inside some of the bunting and banner adorned club tents. I’m sure ours was the best. It was a veritable feast, worthy of a Margaret Fulton cookbook cover – our team manager having gone to considerable effort in co-ordinating breadth and variety  in the offerings,

Upon cloth covered trestle tables sat plate upon plate of freshly baked cakes, Madeira and Lumberjack; fluffy sponges and rainbow sprinkled cup cakes; ribbon sandwiches with chicken, garlic and tarragon mayonnaise, platters of pineapple and strawberries, honeydew melon and oranges spliced into sixteenths. Savouries came in the form of spring rolls, sushi and diagonally quartered baguettes, all stuffed with ham off the bone, avocado, rocket leaves and chunks of cracked black pepper spilling from foil trays.

Crinkled, sweaty bit of glad wrap peeled back from platters with some floating loftily about with the sea breeze towards the grassy tent floor. It was already littered with empty chip packets. One of the Mums was there, running about with a recycled supermarket bag, picking up the rubbish and making sure everything was ok.

It was all too good.

In fact, there was no need to leave the club tent. There was a selection of good camping chairs dotted about, with space in the armrest for a beverage. Together with good company, ambience and the colorful passing promenade, the temptation was to settle in and not move.

But move we had to.

There was a tight schedule of football games to be played and spectated upon. Three games with two halves each. The kids played on makeshift ovals, with goals at odd angles to each other. Things happened, balls were kicked, marked and smothered in a series of contests.

Our Caulfield Bear Under 9 team went into the third game with one win and one loss. The last game saw a last minute surge of energy and a couple of goals to secure a narrow win over St.Kilda City. Surprisingly, this also secured our team as overall winners for their group, albeit, by a tiny margin.

A bright blue flag with black text declaring Lightning Carnival WINNER 2014 was awarded. The kids were ecstatic. The parents too. Photographs were taken with the coach and his assistants still donned in the job description bibs, and all reaching in to hold onto a piece of the small but glorious winning flag.

As families recomposed themselves, the bits and pieces of footy gear were collated along with empty trays and platters of half eaten offerings. The camp chairs were folded up, trestle tables and marquees collapsed.

Ratty siblings and bored nonna’s regrouped. Parents called out to someone, but yet no one in particular “Have we got everything? Jackson where’s your jumper? the coach wants it back. Who owns the green mouthguard?….where’s Roxy? who’s got Roxy?…Patrick, are you coming with us, or do you want to go with Hugo….?

And so it went on, the whole packing up, trying to leave with everyone in tow process, until eventually, the trudge back up Williamstown Road to parked vehicles, could be made.

Fatigued, happy and bedazzled by the excitement of the day, the carnival of footy was over.

Go Bears

Go Tiges!



  1. Beautiful Kate. Felt like I was there – headache and all.

    I have horror memories of Lightning Premierships. Getting beaten by McCleod-Rosanna by 10 goals in 15 minutes!

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Loving your paintings Kate.

    Are you missing Sunday morning footy yet?

  3. Thx Swish
    I must be as I putt name down for canteen as there are other finals on.

  4. Mick Jeffrey says

    My lightning carnival experiences were generally positive (we won a couple). But the embarrassing one for the league was at a. 2004 carnival in yeppoon. Basically nobody thought we were any chance of winning, so our matches were completed well before the last game with no final scheduled. We won all 4 matches that day, then sat around for close to 2 hours just to collect the trophy.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great read , Kate love your passion and involvement as always
    ( I was thinking exactly the question , Swish asked and your answer was what I expected also , good on you thanks , Kate )

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