First win



I love Dodges Ferry FC! It’s very much a family club. There are also loose units, personable blokes, ratbags, hard nuts, bush boys, a bit of everything needed to make a club great. And lots of respect.


Mostly, there is a community. Each home game is a wall of faces – in the clubrooms, around their cars, the oil drum fire, at the canteen, the bar. Kids everywhere! It’s a home.


For four years, though, it had cancer. As the club improved under coaches Dolliver and Wentorf, it did so without a Colts team. That’s like enjoying the sun without water or soil. There’s nothing coming through. No kids, no parents, no volunteers, no money over the counter, no future soul. A club like Dodges isn’t big, it doesn’t have the avenue to build success, or even survival, on coin. They need players who grew up together, who chose to stay when they could go for dollars, higher standards or glory.


Tat knew that. A 30-year-old twos player with great coaching ethos. Over summer he worked hard, in person, on the phone, doing whatever he could to gather the young blokes of the bay-side town into a team.


He and his great mate, the walk up senior gun, Murph, scraped together a group, half of whom had never played before. Kicks sprayed, handballs looked impossibly awkward because they were. Nothing spun right. Some had the raw-boned fire, though. The jets of the team stood out like sore thumbs.


The early floggings came, but the one thing they had above all else, that kept them fat, and numbers up, was mateship. That, and positive coaching.


Get a toe-hold, lay a foundation, weather the storms, then build.


When the Colts won their first game about four rounds in, the whole club was proud! Happy. They did a lap, jogging, laughing, leaping, whooping it up. Making noise! It was hilarious, gold.


Running out to play Ressies, someone put it to the group to jog over and let `em know how glad we were. Ressies and Colts on an oval in the mountains somewhere, shouting war cries and laughter at each other. It was magic! Magic!


The setbacks came, too. The top teams are made up of the very best players of far more populated areas, young men who’ve been playing since they were babes. The thumpings were big. But the young blokes who rocked up to cold, southern Tassie, mid-winter Tuesday night training after such hidings, filled me with respect. They’re the ones you build a club around.


And there were more victories, too.


In the end, they only missed out on finals by the smallest percentage. That was heartache, but not. The fun of it had already begun. I was jealous of the coaches, the players, the bond they will always share.


Some years are an adventure. By having such a season, down the line, five years, ten, fifteen, when ideas and money and the last of the players who grew up together finally run out, those boys will be men, ready. The next Murphs!


Missed finals? They have saved the club.


I hope they’re aware of it. That the coaches are. What they’ve achieved just by committing to something, by having fun.


They will go to music festivals together, surf, travel, end up at each other’s weddings. Bring to the club, over time, girlfriends and wives and their kids, future players, the sort money can’t buy.

Or branch out and conquer the world!


Imagine that – setting sail on a season, with so many more, and life in general, in front of you, kicking goals, and living stories to be told.


Well done Tat and Murph. Well done, boys.


To read more from Matt Zurbo, click here.




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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Terrific stuff Matt! They are the core of the club and its future successes, the young blokes coming through. The mateship, the bonding together, and the people they bring to the club; family and friends, build that community, and hopefully success. Good luck Sharks!

  2. That’s a great account of the club Matty, I thought you were talking about the Bay boys back in 2010 and look where we are now playing in a preliminary final.Good luck to you guys stick together love from us lot down the Bay.

  3. Mark Duffett says

    Intersectionality is all the rage in certain academic circles these days. But there’s none more important than this: the intersection of footy and community. I’ve always felt this in my gut, but in an inchoate sort of way. No one expresses it for me so well as Matt Zurbo. Good luck at Shark Park on Saturday.

  4. Matt Zurbo says

    On ya Duff! Stop using such big words! Haha.

    Thanks for coming to the launch the other day. Epic!

  5. Hope.
    Your stories are like a currency, Old Dog.
    This one another nugget.
    Stories of life.
    Thank you.

  6. Old dog you nailed it ! Can not underestimate re juniors growing up together the parts they play in each other’s lives and the club in the future great stuff

  7. Old Dog- great to read of a country footy club turning it around when so many are struggling. That’s heartening. Love a footy club called the Sharks. Our boys played for the Singapore Sharks. Good stuff!

  8. Matt, when I think of colts, i invariably think of “the Colt from Kooyong” aka former famous liberal politician Andrew Peacock. Mr Peacock, if you remember, was the arch rival of John Howard and had an affair with famous actress Shirley McLain. Every thing to him was “very, very serious”,

    He was often parodied on Mike Carlton’s “Friday’s news revue” in the eighties. Others sent up were Joh Bonkers- Bananas, Rocks Messup, Never Wrong and President Hopalong Cassidy. .

  9. Zurbs, absolutely!!!

    Love it. ?

  10. It doesn’t matter about the on-field playing quality, Matty,
    just so long as they are on that field every week.
    So true.

  11. Matt Zurbo says

    On ya Perma, and thanks everyone!

    Fisho, fir effort to come out of this with Andrew Peacock! Haha! Good stuff.

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