How Mum finally fell in love with Football

As we come to the 10th A-League season it would be easy for me to go over the highlights for the last decade.  Highlights such as Melbourne Victory’s 6-0 grand final win over Adelaide Utd, Brisbane Roar and Central Coast’s epic grand final and the rise of Western Sydney Wanderers.  No, when I think about the last decade I think about how the A-League or more specifically Melbourne Victory made my mum fall in love with the game.  Considering how much the game has meant to my family and mum was always around the game it took Melbourne Victory and Danny Allsop for her to realise how much she loved the round ball game.

Mum was born in West Sussex England just after the war. While she played some netball and hockey she was never into sports.  Music was her big passion.  She grew up when the British pop explosion happened.  Playing through her town most weekends were The Beatles, The Stones, The Who and any big act in that time:  chances are my mum saw them as they started off.   In regards to football the only big sides in the area was Swindon Town and Brighton who were both in the lower divisions in English and in the 60’s women did not go to the football.  At the age of 21 mum decided there was a bigger world then the small village she was living in and became one of the 10 pound poms to go to Australia to join her sister who had settled in Reservoir where she married a Maltese man.

Reservoir while it was only 30 minutes from the city was like a country town back in the 60’s. Dirt roads, milk being delivered by horse and cart and there was an outhouse in the backyard.  It was another world to mum and wondered what she got herself into.  She was introduced to my dad on a football pitch at Broadmeadows Soccer Club.  Dad was also English but came over with his family when he was 11 years old.  Dad never lost his passion for football and thankfully came to Australia during the immigration boom and mixed with Italian, Greek and UK immigrants who also played football as well.

So over the years mum would help out at Broadmeadows and when my brother and myself came onto the scene she would help out at our soccer club at Mornington running the canteen, wash our strips and tend to our bumps and scratches. Now while she was happy to help she never enjoyed football as to her it was work.  It meant losing her weekend and dealing with people she didn’t enjoy being with.  Her father was a drunk and in the 70’s and 80’s there was a lot of drunks wherever we played and mum never enjoyed seeing that side of the game.  So when dad retired, my brother and myself drifted away from the game, mum was glad to get her weekends back and do what she wanted.

When the A-League was announced was the replacement for the NSL dad jumped on board as he felt that this was a league for all Australians no matter who you were. So we all got memberships including mum.  Now a strange thing happened.  Mum went to Olympic Park to watch Melbourne Victory purely as a supporter.  She enjoyed the atmosphere the Blue and White Brigade generated, and  loved watching the game.  She was a big supporter of Danny Allsop who in season 1 struggled and mum became sympathetic to him as he was getting booed by the Victory supporters.  She was convinced he would come good.  In season 2 when Victory dominated the A-league mum was having a ball.  Whenever I would speak to her she wanted to talk about Victory, brag about how well Allsopp was playing and getting frustrated with Archie Thompson.

Come grand final day my brother and myself could not get tickets, but mum and dad got tickets. Dad still tells us how mum was singing, joining in the chants and cheering on the lads as Victory romped home to a 6-0 rout against Adelaide Utd.  I remember seeing her after the game and you could not wipe the smile off her face.

I would say this is the highlight for me in the first 10 years as this was the last time I saw mum this happy. A month later she was on her way to her weekly golf game when she had a collision with a truck after going through a stop sign.  Mum died instantly at the scene.  While the pain of her passing will never pass.  I can take comfort that mum got to see, feel the passion my family have for football and most importantly got to feel part of it.

About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Co host of It's Not Called Soccer podcast


  1. Dennis Gedling says

    That was a great read. Friends who never had an NSL club said that it was only when Victory came along with a united front that they finally had a team to support in the national competition. There would no doubt be other stories like this which is amazing considering the A-League was so manufactured.

  2. Thanks Dennis. As manufactured the A-League has been. It is amazing how much of a voice and connection the fans have with the teams and the league.

  3. Great read from a great football family!

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    I’ve been a Victory fan from the start. Been a great club to follow, Danny Allsop was a big favourite of mine. Used to watch the NSL as a boy but never settled on a team, liked both the Melbourne Knights and South Melbourne. The Victory though has been a team I could be passionate about.
    Fantastic, touching article Vaughan. Look forward to reading more from you on the Almanac, hopefully some Victory match reports.

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