Local Footy: My love for my club grows stronger with age

By Darren Dawson

It’s been eleven seasons since I last pulled on the boots for the Williamstown CYMS Football Club. As the years pass, the number of players with whom I played continues to diminish, but strangely my attachment to the club grows stronger as I get older.

When I finally hung up the boots after 213 games in the blue and gold hoops, I believed that I would severely miss being out on the field and that nothing would fill the void of the camaraderie that I had left behind. However, I distinctly remember that first season out of the game and how it greeted me with a strange sense of detachment; I was surprised that I had no urge whatsoever to again pull on the boots, despite the urgings of players to reconsider my retirement. Happily, my feelings of ambivalence have receded, to be replaced by a sense of belonging and ownership that possibly only a past player can feel.  

A decade later, I rarely miss a home game. I wander down to the Fearon Reserve in Williamstown with a sense of anticipation similar to the excitement I felt before running out onto the ground in my playing gear. It helps that my three sons often accompany me to the game. It also pleases me no end that they would prefer to spend an afternoon watching D2 amateurs than sitting through an over-priced, sterile Etihad affair.

This Sunday, the CYs take on Peninsula Old Collegians in the VAFA D2 grand final. I am proud of the fact that this current group has taken the club up two grades in two seasons; and I am extremely envious, considering that my playing career coincided with a sustained period of under-achievement. My sons and I will be there cheering on “our” boys. In the lead-up to the game I will be nervous, and once the ball is bounced I will be roaring as loudly as anyone, riding every bump and celebrating every goal as if I were still out on the field of play.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Smoky,

    I envy you. For me, nothing has replaced the joy of playing. I just miss running around getting a kick. I still feel like that now, at 43, especially when it’s a sunny day and the grass is particularly pungent.

    I think part of my problem is that I didn’t play at one club for an extended period. I went back and forwards from St Bernard’s to here and there, depending on where I was living, but it just confirmed to me that you shouldn’t go backwards. Leave your good footy club memories as they are.

    In my post-playing days I’ve never settle into watching just one club, either. It’s my job to watch many clubs. I therefore feel like I’m cut adrift.

    My dream is to watch one club and enjoy feeling attached. It’ll happen but I’m not sure when.

    Good luck for the CYs on Sunday.

  2. Glad to hear, Daff, that you miss running around and getting a kick. I know what you mean although I don’t really feel it as I know a footy club culture can seem great but is not for everyone. I do, though, wish I was 12 and running out with my mates when I go to watch Tom play…and able to digest a hotdog afterwards.
    This is the time of year when we get that ceaseless finals guff..blah,blah..
    “Premiership…after all, that’s what you play footy for.”
    This always goes unchallenged. You, Daff, miss playing. That’s what you played footy for. Winning and flags are aspirations and rewards.
    There is an envy when you see such commitment to a club. I sense, though, you’ve seen so many you recognise the myopia often involved with fanatics and shall always remain slightly “adrift”.

  3. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    Crio you are so right!

    Playing footy for premierships is NOT what its all about. Playing footy is all about intrinsic rewards.
    It almost makes me vomit to hear blokes trotting out lines about only playing footy to win premierships.
    At the Bushpigs we were just happy to have a shower after the game and a few beers, actually quite a few beers!

    Daff – once your sons start playing Auskick you’ll get to smell the leather and liniment again!

    Meanwhile, GAA football for the kids starts again this Saturday in Abu Dhabi – I get to kick the ball around with the boys albeit a round one, but at least we pick it up and kick it!

  4. True, Rocket, there is nothing like the love of a sport you see in your kid’s eyes to remind you what it is about. Sure, it is passionate, but its not so simplistic.
    Can I also say that I’m not belittling club stalwarts in my earlier comment. Each place is a treasure in its own way and relies heavily on people being committed. But not just to premierships.

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