John Foord Oval, Corowa

Glen’s story of his Mum and the Corowa footy days of old prompts me to finally publish this post I drafted months ago.


Picture a football oval sitting cozily alongside the mighty River Murray on a cold winter’s morning in July. The stubborn grey fog is just lifting its shroud over the floodplain bringing the welcome promise of afternoon sunshine. Tall river red gums stand majestically behind the boundary fence at the southern end anchored solidly to the floodplain earth. Screeching Sulphur-crested Cockatoos wheel and circle above the Australian-bush-green Eucalypt foliage, piercing the silence all round.

Four white posts stand straight and tall at both ends, facing one another awaiting the game. The wings, flanks and pockets of the playing surface are well grassed and decorated with a moist topping of dew. In contrast, the goal squares and centre bounce area are pock-marked with boot stop-holes indented by players in recent games. The sign at the entrance to the reserve boasts the name ‘John Foord Oval’, home of the Corowa ‘Spiders’.

Cars carrying families of home team and visiting supporters roll through the gates and head for the prized boundary-side spaces on the river side of the ground. The savoury smell of steaming saveloys wafts through the late-morning air as the early-birds settle into their seats around the wire-netting fence in readiness for the reserves game. Many in the crowd read their ‘Critic’ football programs to learn snippets of club news and check on the names and numbers of opposition players.

A roar suddenly explodes from the home team’s change room as the door springs open and twenty fresh-faced players emerge. In single-file they run and skip towards the ground entrance gate, before spilling out onto the oval, greeted by toots of car horns, cheers and claps from the home crowd. The visitors soon follow with a slightly more subdued reception. The shrill sound of the umpires’ whistle signals the imminent start of play, while the 36 players take their designated positions.

Four quarters of football later, in the early afternoon, the sequence is repeated, heralding the start of the main game. The crowd has built up nicely and Corowa supporters are shoulder-to-shoulder near the club rooms on the north western side. Clothed in felt hats and grey coats, men puff on their smokes as the anticipation of the contest grows. Women chat, some dextrously knitting, as they wait and watch. Now fully sun-lit, the ground is ready for the afternoon’s action as a hush falls over the crowd. Cheers and supporter’s calls break out, “Carn the Spiders!” and “Go Bulldogs!” just before play commences.

The orange-red leather is bounced and play gets under way.

About Peter Clark

is a lifetime Geelong supporter. Hailing from the Riverina, he is now entrenched on the NSW South Coast. His passion for footy was ignited by attending Ovens and Murray League matches in the 1960's with his father. After years of watching, playing and coaching, now it is time for some serious writing about his favourite subjects… footy, especially country footy, and cricket.


  1. Dave Brown says

    Love this, Peter. Written with a sense of place while no doubt being a common country footy experience.

  2. Good onya Peter. Carn the spiders !!! Memories of chaps like George Tobias and others from the pre Corowa-Rutherglen era. muchly appreciated !


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