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Defining ‘The Moment.’

The daily papers have reported that the Portsea holiday home of the late Lou Richards is on the market. It was said to be the place where Lou and his family would while away the non-footballing months each year. In my pre-trade, draft, JLT and AFLX series childhood, this ran from October through to March and was known as ‘the cricket season’. By early March, the sports pages of The Sun finally turned their attention away from the cricket and onto the new recruits and pre-season practice matches for each of the 12 VFL teams.

 

It’s different now. Football (AFL) as we all know is a business, not just a sport. There is interest in every facet of the game and social media is the means by which we gain access to our team for 12 months of the year. I know what my Swans have been up to since that forgettable (but unfortunately, unforgettable) final against GWS. I know which charities they have been riding bikes long distances for (Robbie Fox), where they have been holidaying (Buddy et al) and who has been riding camels in Qatar (the coach, Rampe, Millsy, Isaac, Parks and Joey). Social media is a seemingly unstoppable force in life and sport.

 

Each year contains a 22 (plus finals if you are lucky) week cycle of team announcement, pre-game analysis, the game, post-game analysis, the injury concerns, the MRP and back again to the team announcement…and I love it. We all love it. Because we love football and we love our team. But for just the smallest, briefest period of time, somewhere between the trade and draft (about now!), football social media goes into its own version of a hiatus. Not quite akin to hibernation, but greater than a moment.

 

A moment. The Sydney Swans website has filled this gap with a series of personal reflections entitled ‘The Moment’. Various proud Swan supporters, known in the public eye, relate ‘the moment when they fell in love with the red and white’. Their stories are varied and interesting. Adam Spencer, Sam Groth, Deborah Hutton and Natalie Barr have recounted their personal journey to becoming passionate Swan supporters. They seem just like ‘us’ – sitting in the stands with family, being enthralled by Plugger, cheer cheering Tom McCartin’s goal…

 

It got me thinking about my own ‘moment’ – and there were plenty of special moments even for a South supporter in the dark days of the 1960s and ’70s. I saw Peter Bedford play his first game for South in sardine like conditions (for players and spectators) at the Glenferrie Oval; my 8-year-old self recognised even then what a special player he was. Watching South defeat Collingwood inside the cauldron that was Victoria Park in Round 2 of the ’76 season, when 1975 had brought only 2 wins for the entire year. Watching Bobby Skilton lead out the Swans in front of 104,000 spectators in 1970. Watching Skilton, watching Skilton, watching Skilton.

 

But there was never ‘a moment’ for me. It was a love for the red and white instilled at birth. My grandmother was as proud and passionate a Swan as you would find. Born in Hambleton St. South Melbourne; died whilst residing in Kerferd Rd. South Melbourne – lived 107 years in-between. Map 57 of the Melways was her world. Widowed for 65 years! When she spoke at her 100th birthday of having seen South’s 6 premierships (well before the ‘Here it is!’ of 2005), it appeared dementia had finally set in…until she reminded us all of the three they had won – and which she had seen – before the VFL was formed in 1896! Dad played U19’s and reserves grade football for South. Hawthorn came calling and offered him the prospect of a guaranteed 10 games in the firsts the following season. One of those games would be against South – ‘I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wear another jumper. Never’. He suffered a head injury the following year playing for South reserves and never donned the colours again.

 

That is my footballing pedigree as a Swan. A baby photo shows me wearing a hand knitted South jumper with No.2 on the back (Fred Goldsmith). At seven, I was ‘helping’ Dad push a wheelbarrow whilst wearing my long sleeved South jumper. No. 14 on the back this time. At training with the Highett West U13’s. No sleeves on the red and white jumper, but 14 is still on the back. No Swans jumper in 2005, but wearing Dad’s black ‘gameday’ overcoat and Swan scarf. How much would I have given to have had him with me at that game! Plenty of 45-year-old tears at the final siren.

 

 

 

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About

Ross Treverton is a third generation Swans supporter who grew up on family stories about Pratt, Nash and Matthews. He was then fortunate to see Skilton, Bedford, Kelly et al. 3 daughters with no interest in sport means his AFL watching is confined to the television and regular duties at the MCG and Etihad as a police officer.

Comments

  1. Rabid Dog says:

    Same as you Ross, there was never a moment – I’ve been a Ceeeeeeentrals supporter for as long as I can remember.

  2. craig dodson says:

    Great recounting of your story Ross. Totally agree it is harder and harder to escape any form of footy ‘news’..

  3. Wally from Williamstown says:

    Exactly how the AFL want it Craig, the game (which now appears to be called AFL rather than Aussie Rules!) In your face and your consciousness 24/7/365.

    My sliding doors moment came at Brunswick Street in 1966, the last year that the VFL Roys played there. My dad, a South fan from way back, took me as an 8yo along with my uncle and cousins who lived in Reservoir and followed Fitzroy. My dad was keen for me to follow in his footsteps and follow South while my relatives were insistent that I barrack for the Lions. I announced that I would henceforth barrack for whoever was the victor, which turned out to be South. I can’t recall the margin but I do remember Austin Robertson kicking a goal at the Brunswick Street end. And I kept my word and followed South from then until 1981, only ending my romance with the move to Sydney which I couldn’t hack at all. I had a couple of mates who followed none other than Fitzroy so I ended up supporting them until the very bitter end in 1996.

  4. Ross, so nice to see your story in the Almanac! More please.

    Clegg, Goldsmith, Gunn, Siburn, McGowan, Bedford, Heriot, Rantall, Boyd, Morwood, Healey, Kelly, Creswell, Plugger, Kirk, Buddy, and all of those in between. Skilton, of course, is sitting on the top the mountain, reigning supreme.

    The moment was at birth.

    Go the Mighty Bloods
    And look forward to catching up again next year. Cheer cheer, Jan

  5. Please replace previous entry which has faults.

    Hi Ross
    Some more info on The Great Herby Matthews who like us was ex Ringwood.
    Swans old-timers say that Matthews was blessed with great pace, stamina and skill, and a beautiful high mark for a player of his size. History says things could so easily have worked out very differently. He was the son of Herb ‘Butcher’ Matthews, who played one game for South Melbourne in 1914, 13 games for Richmond in 1915, 50 games for Melbourne from 1919-22 and a further 31 games for South in 1923-24 when he partnered the great “Up there Roy Cazaly” in the South ruck division.
    The young prodigy had moved from the family home in South Melbourne to live with his grandparents in Fairfield close to Collingwood’s Victoria Park headquarters, He was heavily targeted by the Magpies.
    Happily for South fans, he chose the club where his father had started and finished his career. He debuted at 18 years in Round 1 of 1932. He was one of four Swans debutants in a 20-point win over Melbourne at South Melbourne.. The other three debutants that day played a total of eight games – Alick Black (1), Roy Selleck (3) and Herb Boschen (4).
    Matthews was also a handy district cricketer with South Melbourne and could easily have been more than a Brownlow Medallist.
    In 1936 he polled 20 votes to finish third in the Brownlow medal behind Fitzroy’s Dinny Ryan (26) and Geelong’s Reg Hickey (21). In 1937 he polled 23 votes to finish second behind Essendon’s Dick Reynolds (27). And in 1941 he polled 22 votes to finish second behind Footscray’s Norm Ware (23). Skilton, won the medal three times and was third once, Matthews is the only other Swans player to have finished in the top four more than twice.
    Also, with five top 10 finishes, Matthews ranks third among Swans players in this category behind Skilton, who finished top 10 a staggering nine times, and Adam Goodes, who in addition to two medal wins in 2003 and 2006 was six times in in the top 10.
    Matthews’ career vote tally of 117 votes sees him ranked fourth among Swans players behind Skilton (180), Goodes (160) and 1949 winner Bill Clegg (121), and ahead of 1995 winner Paul Kelly (103) and Dan Hanneberry (100).
    He was included in the AFL Hall of Fame in the second intake in 1997, Matthews was chosen in 2003 on the wing of the Swans Team of the Century, completing a centreline of Matthews, Greg Williams and David Murphy.
    He was an inaugural inductee to the Swans Hall of Fame in 2009, and in 2015 he became the club’s fifth Hall of Fame Legend alongside Skilton, Kelly, Bob Pratt and Peter Bedford. In 2016 Clegg became the sixth Legend, and in 2017 Peter Burns, the game’s first superstar from the pre-VFL era in the late 1880’s, became the seventh Legend.
    I at sixteen years of age played in the Ringwood First Eighteen of 1950 that was captained and coached by the great Herbie Matthews. At sixteen years of age I was Herbie Matthews’ first rover for this season. I did not know at the time what a great player I was playing with. This was Herbie Matthews last playing season. It was my second season in open age first eighteen football. Stab Punt Jim
    Stab Punt Jim Johns

  6. Good stuff Ross yes the ridiculous saturation of just about when a afl player goes to the toilet is ridiculous.
    I detest that footy is called afl not aussie rules there are some of us who follow other competitions far more than afl never a actual moment for me either always Norwood fc aka the redlegs

  7. george smith says:

    Changes over the years.
    Stan Wells cartoons show a cricket thing – stumps for a body, ball for a head, punting the football into a shed, not to be opened until March.

    6 games on a Saturday afternoon, football on 6 radio stations, if you were lucky you got full coverage, not snippets between races.

    Now it has become a night game, disappearing into the bowels of the MCG like a murder mystery – lights everywhere, but step outside the lights and you are alone in the dark with a footpad, or worse, a feral possum…

    Moving to Sydney, realising that no one really gives a toss about Aussie Rules, sitting in one’s car trying to pick up 3LO when the sun went down to get the after match summaries. now just switch on your computer.

    Driving to Central Station to get the 2 Sunday papers from Melbourne for any footy news, in those days you could get a car park. Now just look at your computer or phone…

    Memories of South Melbourne – the cruel tongue of Lou Richards in the Melbourne Sun:
    “South and winning are like curry and ice cubes…”

    Now the Sun is full of onanistic Rupert acolytes, making it unreadable.

  8. Nice reminiscences, many thanks Ross.

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