Henry and the Jets: Heathmont, romanticised.

On the face of it, Heathmont’s H.E Parker Reserve looks like any other football club in East Melbourne (or the “deep-east” as my Dad would say). Which could be why I can’t remember my first time there.

 

The sloping ground, cricket pitch remnants in the centre, two green coaches’ boxes to the near side, one newly erected electronic scoreboard to the far side, and towering Mount Dandenong in the background beyond the netball centre.

 

The concrete and cinderblock change rooms, home and away with only a garage door between them. The bar down one end, the canteen at the other, manned by equally smiling faces.

 

When the clubrooms are inevitably knocked down and rebuilt in the coming months, it’s not the building I’ll miss. It’s the club this building represents.

 

My junior footy club, which will remain nameless, served me well. But when I arrived at Heathmont 5 years ago, I found family. No cliques, minimal politics, just footy. My first coach at Heathmont, Justin “Fossil” O’Dwyer, was someone to look up to, a coach you played well for out of respect, not obligation. My first Heathmont footy trip to Yarrawonga, and the team roast we cooked up still provides laughs around the post-training dinner table.

 

There’s no way the demolition of one building could tarnish any of the memories I’ve attached to a club that’s come to mean so much. But you’d be kidding yourself in thinking that this club won’t miss it.

 

Sure, the new building will have more than a wood fire and an air-conditioner, but it would be rude to forget who has kept it lit for all those winter months. And sure, it’ll have a new kitchen or two, but there’s 100+ men, women and children who’ll make sure you don’t forget who cooked away in the old ones for you.

 

I’m sure the trainers’ rooms will be all nice and new, but I’m even more sure Alan Raskas will miss losing his scissors every second ankle taping. He’ll probably still find a way.

 

Who knows how long it will take for ‘H.E Parker Reserve’ to conjure thoughts of the new and improved pavilion, rather than the old. I hope it takes a while.

 

So, in 5 more years, when an errant kick ricochets out of bounds into the second-storey windows of the new pavilion, instead of onto the roof of the old, I’ll laugh and think how lucky we are as a club. When I’m characteristically complaining about climbing stairs to the function room after a hard day’s footy, I hope I kick myself for doing so. When we turn the hot tap in the showers and hot water comes out, god, how grateful we’ll be.

 

There’s a dozen more people that have called this place home for much longer than I have. And so, the fact I’ll miss it after a handful of years is testament to how homely they’ve made it.

 

This club doesn’t need a fire to feel warm – the new pavilion won’t know what hit it.

 

Current day HE Parker Reserve Pavilion

 

For further information about making a donation towards much needed funds for the new H.E. Parker Pavilion, click here.

 

 

Henry Ballard is a final year journalism student at Deakin University.

 

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Henry Ballard

21 year-old student of journalism, local footy, and fluent conversation. Of which I have perfected none and should never hope to.

Comments

  1. This is the beauty of footy clubs – good footy clubs, where the sense of giving and commitment prevails. That ground looks pretty well-worn too!

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