General Footy Writing: Have a snag at St Vinnies match at Punt Road before heading across to the ‘G

By Zoe Clare
St Vincent De Paul soup vans have been feeding homeless and disadvantaged men and women in the Collingwood area for years. And all volunteers who work on the vans quickly learn that, in order to have a chat with the regulars, you must know your footy. If not, you fake it. The streets of Collingwood buzz with footy fever.
The talk on the streets for the past few weeks has been the second annual clash between the Collingwood Knights and a joint team of St Vinnies soup van volunteers and their Collingwood “clientele”.  The highly anticipated match is to take place at the Punt Road Oval this Saturday, 11 July, at 12 noon, a time that means the match will serve as a curtain-raiser to the Carlton v Richmond match at the MCG. The Richmond Football Club is hosting the Punt Road match. Why not enjoy a snag while watching the Knights and Vannies match at Tigerland and then walk the few hundred metres to see the Tigers take on the Blues at the ’G?
Following the success of the event last year, when the Vannies and the Volunteers played out a draw, the blokes from Collingwood formed their own team, the Knights, to play in the RecLink competition on Wednesday afternoons. The Collingwood Knights team was organised largely out of the Innerspace drug safety program in Johnson Street, and includes many soup van regulars.
“Patrick” enjoyed last year’s match so much that he ventured to a Knights training session and has been playing for them since. Patrick speaks highly of the soup van volunteers. “Without their encouragement I’d be still sitting in my room all day every day watching TV,” he said. He has divided loyalty this week, not knowing whether to play for the Vinnies or the Knights.
Ken Wilson, the organiser of the match, said: “Being a soup van volunteer is much more than handing out some sustenance. It’s actually about breaking down the barriers and giving people a reason to keep on trying. It’s being committed and going the extra yard to help people.”
The Richmond Football Club has made St Mary’s House of Welcome in Collingwood and the soup vans a focus of their community outreach program. Richmond and Carlton supporters are encouraged to attend the game at Punt Road before going to the MCG. A $5 donation at the gate will include punters in the draw to win a plasma TV; all proceeds go to the St Vincent de Paul soup vans.
Gates open at 11.30am.

Questions? Email Ken Wilson at: [email protected]


  1. Zoe,

    Aside from wishing you and Ken all the best with the soup-van match, I just love the idea of a game at Punt Road at midday and then an AFL match at the MCG at 2pm.

    I remember when AFL reserves matches were played at Punt Road in the 1990s. Thousands of fans used to watch the magoos game and then head up to the ‘G to the watch the big boys (and Chris Naish).

    In 1997, Ashley Browne wrote a story in The Age in which he explored the reasons why Richmond forward Justin Plapp had become a cult figure. The main reason, he decided, was that the thousands of Tiger fans who went to midday games at Punt Road took a shine to watching Plapp take marks and kick goals. They formed a Plappian following (why did that term ever take off?) and the rest is history.

    Well, Plappy actually never did set the world on fire in the Tigers’ senior team. He eventually moved across St Kilda and then headed back to Burnie in Tassie, where he took marks and kicked goals for many years.

    Anyway, curtain-raisers at Punt Road … bring ’em back!

  2. K N Dole says

    This sounds like a ripper event and I for one will be putting in an appearance, as well as my hand in my pocket to support the Vinnies, before heading over to the G to see the Tigers do the Blues!

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