Glove-wearing in primary school Queenslanders: a study in weather new and old

I wore gloves on the weekend, for the first time in years. To the footy at Etihad on Saturday night, where the Cats notched up a really important victory. I also wore a beanie, which is unflattering for the middle-aged, but warm enough, made all the warmer by paint-stripping shiraz and sublime game-reading of geriatric Geelong footballers. (I think Corey Enright speaks seven languages)

I wore gloves again this morning, because they were on the bench (where I left them when I got home from the footer).

I was a glove-wearer as a child. You had to be in Queensland. That might sound ridiculous to southerners. But anyone who has lived inland (and you don’t have to go too far) in the sunshine state will know the beauty of a crisp, clear, frosty morning. And the 2k ride to school on the Malvern Star (blue and white 26”) was sheer torture without gloves. Your face would wind up splotchy, your legs cold-warm in that way of winter exercise but without gloves your hands would be frozen into a grip position, painful (sometimes impossible) to release.

I was not as tough as some of my classmates – being more of a nancy five eighth for the Under 12 Oakey Bears Junior Rugby League Football Club. Shoeless Kevin Krahenbring, who had feet like Fred Flintstones, was particularly resilient. The frost didn’t stop him playing soccer in the half hour or so before parade (as it was called, with its throw to all things military) and he was an exponent of the toe-poke.

Quite a few of the boys didn’t wear shoes for the warmer months, which I could understand, but there was no way I was going Volley-less on those frosty mornings.

The beauty was that it would be -4 degrees (hoses splitting, taps frozen) and cold as misery, but the days were impeccably clear and often barely a breath of wind which  created a behind-glass torpor I have craved ever since. I sure I learnt trigonometry while in an altered state having been hypnotised by the drone of the teacher’s voice while basking in the sun streaming through the northern windows (remember the suspended dust particles in the sunlight?)

Weekend frost meant perfect golf conditions, with the ball flying through the still air.

Not quite the same here in the south-east of the continent on Friday when news of snow was floating around. My brother’s family at Hamilton sent this photo of Mt Williams.

Mick Karms Mt Williams snow

Mt Williams in the Grampians on Saturday


No doubt there are plenty more – send them in if you have them.

So, I am just back from walking to school with Theo, and the gloves are off, the heater is on, and I’m behind the north-facing window of my study. It’s a good day for scholarship.

Now that takes me back.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Lovely piece, JTH. Suspended dust particles in the sunlight conjures up wonderful sunny winter morning memories for me.

    I was at the ‘G for the Tigers-Giants twilight match on Saturday and I would have jumped at the chance of wearing gloves in the last quarter. More mornings like yesterday and today and I might have to invest in a pair. I don’t even know where to get any – where’s my local glovery?

  2. Saturday night was probably the coldest I can remember being at the footy since I watched Hawthorn beat Geelong at Waverley Park in the early 90s with rain running down my back. It was a night when I was glad not to have a seat so I could jump up and down in between slurps of (relatively) warm beer.

  3. By the way, I have a theory about gloves. They keep warm hands warm but they do not heat up cold hands. Therefore they must be put on prior to venturing out. Paint stripping Shiraz, on the other hand, can be consumed at any time to warm up the whole body.

  4. Basking in the sun indoors on a cold day is one thing that I miss here in Singapore. Being so hot and humid all the time, the sun is to be avoided at all times. I long for crisp sunny days and appreciating the warmth of the sun.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Channeling your inner Morrissey, JTH?

    “Spending cold winter days indoors

    Writing frightening prose

    To the buck-toothed crowd of the Almanac”

    Nature is a language, can’t you read?

  6. Dave Brown says

    Nice work as always, JTH. Similarly, I was almost reliving the Canberra soccer fields of my childhood in Adelaide this weekend. The freezing morning gave way to a clear afternoon. Layers of clothing were gradually shed by all at the early football game as the sun relatively quickly went from ineffectual to just warm enough for a t-shirt. Therein lies the difference, though. I don’t ever remember stripping down to a t-shirt on a proper Canberra winter’s day.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    How did I miss “Hand In Glove”?

  8. qldpies35 says

    John, I live an hour south towards Beaudesert and it does get cold up here, but never need gloves, I am built like a union second rower who has been in a good paddock, so that explains it, but the other delicate members of the family live in gloves and beanies. They won’t enter the beach water until November, too cold!!!! But remember by 9.30am its a lovely 25 degrees and the layers peel off. I’m a schoolteacher and the dust might explain the boredom of the class during English, it can’t be the curriculum.

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Enjoyable ramble , JTH I had time to kill this morning and was just going to wander around , Melbourne but gave up as it was too cold and went to the airport early don’t no if I am getting softer but the cold seems to be worse this year


  11. Which is why you live within a mile of the beach. There’s been some cool mornings here on the Sunshine Coast, but no glove wearing weather. The electric blanket is still on the bed just in case, although not being turned on. Haven’t had the really nasty cold with windy to whip it into nooks and crannys so far.

    Weather envy?

  12. Pamela Sherpa says

    Winter in the mountains has been fantastic this year. Cold nights ,glorious days and sensational snow. I wear a beanie to get wood in from the back verandah and need gloves on to hang the washing out early on frosty mornings.

  13. Ian Hauser says


    When I was a kid at Blenheim State School, 100kms south-west of Brisbane (below the Range), knitted gloves on the Malvern Star (28″, green) were not unusual on frosty winter mornings. By morning recess, however, it was back to shorts and shirtsleeves. Unfortunately, I did not sit on the northern side of the single classroom but, with Mr Whelan out front, it didn’t matter, we just got on with it.

    Twenty years later, as a teacher in an independent school in Adelaide, ISA interschool sport was played on Saturday mornings. I used to look after the “A” girls hockey in winter with the opening bully at 8.30am. I recall one very cold morning at Woodlands College at Glenelg where hockey was played across their grass tennis courts – beautiful surface and very fast with a touch of frost lingering. My star player, centre-half SEF, a State Under-age player, started the game wearing several layers (and, possibly, even gloves) but gradually peeled them off to the standard uniform as she, and the game, warmed up. Can’t remember the result but SEF was a star.

    I have their photo in front of me – I wonder whatever happened to Jenny, Anne, Kathy, Karen, Julianne, Mary, Donna, Neroli, Carolyn, Liz and Sue?

    Thinking about it, what gets me is that those kids are now closer to 50 than 40! No wonder I’m grey and retired! But it’s still bloody cold in Adelaide! Thank goodness I live on the Sunny Coast.

Leave a Comment