Local Footy: Football in the time of Corona


Precisely twenty rostered boys patiently waited on the edge of Brunswick St at 7.05pm last Tuesday and it was certainly a strange scene to behold, but like so many around the globe we’ve become accustomed to these modified practices. Maximum four in the café, ten in the cinema and two at either half forward flank.


Whether it be elbowing the traffic light or counting bodies in the Bunning’s aisle, we’ve adjusted to a new mode of normality. And football, it is no different. We sanitized the ball after it flew out of play and over the fence. We spaced ourselves 1.5m apart as best we could and each time our brains reacted on muscle memory and went for a high-five, we exercised restraint and followed it up with an elbow. It is all very bizarre.


The creativity of the mock VB commercial by the @ranch_coffee_co (Will Zaghis, Sam Batterton, James Graham, Liam Garrard and Nick Harrison) down at the Alphington Ranch was a fine example of what sort of comedic content was required to lift the mood during such testing times. Snapshots of the way the players were managing life under lockdown kept the team connected as much of the world moved to entirely online spaces. We saw a training program by Riley “Bluey” Harry-Blackall that had been inspired by Sun Tzu’s military treatise, The Art of War. Equally remarkable were exquisite renditions of the Fitzroy theme song by Thommy ‘’T-Bull” Robinson (trombone) and Benny “Big Bags” McDonald (accordion). The men’s 1’s skipper, Jules ‘’Bunsen Burner” Turner’s artistic endeavors were on show as he mapped out a crocodile via his running app. All the boys showed ingenuity adapting their training in these unprecedented circumstances.


Countless kilometres were clocked up on the app Strava that exploded in popularity during isolation. Players could compare the routes and times that kept them busy, and sane! An informal half-marathon challenge spread amongst the group and my competitive instinct kicked in. 1 hour 45 was all it took my lightly built frame to battle the 21km course along the Merri Creek. Fair to say, the next day my body was furious with my mind’s determination. Desperate to keep fit and strong, Max “Banjo” Davie, Jacob ‘’J-Lo” Long and I (a group of housemates sporting matching Roy’s tattoos) made a slapdash bench press that consisted of one piano stool, a draftsman’s chair and two pillows for head support. Max and Jacob stacked heavy weights onto the flimsy 8-kilogram bar and I watched in envy knowing my scrawny figure was no match for what they were throwing around.


Speaking to Chris Green, the President of Sandhurst Football Netball Club, at my late Grandfather Bruce Reid’s funeral highlighted the importance that community sporting clubs play in our life. He fed me anecdotes about him and Bruce catching up in Bendigo, both accompanied by their cherished four-legged friends. Talking footy and walking the dog brought them old ecstasy-filled memories of the beauty of footy’s routine. Chris often found that the conversations between him and Bruce dried up without the presence of local footy.


One only needs to look as far as the NFNL and EDFL to see the struggles of community footy right now. Clubs are fighting to convince players that playing for free will be better than them taking a penalty rates Saturday shift on the tools. Coronavirus has changed the complexion of the grassroots game but thankfully down at Brunswick St in the Amo’s we can enjoy a more stress-free Saturday of footy, free of the baggage that money brings. I’m looking forward to a Kerry Burger as much as anything.





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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Young Fitzroy Amo's player; just providing some anecdotes along the way.


  1. Fabulous feature Pav! Captured the Roy spirit perfectly.

    We train joyfully to return to the field, equally joyfully. Bring it on!

  2. Elizabeth Reid says

    I want aKerry burger in the afternoon sun on hipster hill too!

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