Local Ground


Kate Birrell Freo


It’s late afternoon and I’m with my youngest, who’s nearly nine, and one of his cousins. We are at the local ground. It’s not really a kick to kick session. It is a match. I’m told that its like a twenty-twenty, but with footy.

“…Ballantyne lines up for goal…….to give the Dockers the lead….” says one of the boys panting and running at the same time. The other continues, poking his toes at the ball ” he kicks it ………right through the middle……..he splits the sticks..…this is innnn….credible”.

The horizon here is bare and bereft of foliage. The council have removed the twisted, curled gum trees that had, until recently, buffered the space between the scoreboard and the racetrack… a shame, because they were superb specimens, with their contorted, twisted limbs reaching out, poised, ready on their mark.

The evening sky is tinged with shades of grey and purple, a residue from the previous weeks soaking, and an orange glow seeps gradually across from the west.

“Pavlich……M-a-t-t-h-e-w-P-a-v-l-i-c-h…. he’s done it….he has done it!… it is raining champions here at Patersons Stadium…..….a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e champions they are….…no doubt about it…dockers are in the grand final….….sen-s-A-t-ional stuff……”

The breathless dialogue continues. It’s a drunken blend reminiscent of both Gerard and Rex. The dog-walkers congregate nearby, but no-one seems to notice the boys; they too, are engrossed in worlds of their own.

Unfettered by other things this evening, we can take our time. I lie on the grass, inside the boundary, watching and listening. I savour this vivid spectacle and the sound of the running commentary, because I know it won’t last.

As the cool air of this April evening descends, and the red moon rises, we head home with cheeks rosy, and appetites, still hungry for more.


  1. Love it Kate. Good to hear that some kids still kick the footy rather than playing on their personal entertainment devices.

  2. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Thanks for the lovely word pic Kate. And if those two don’t make it to the goal square, sounds like they’re ripe for a job in the box.

  3. Thanks Dips
    I think our local ovals are really well patronised these days, ours has just been improved (although I do miss the trees I referred to) with new paths and general tidy up. It looks great. So many people use it especially late in the day. Have a good day

    Thanks Mathilde

    And Ed excuse my ignorance…what is a dob?

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ditto Dips word for word ! Glad your oval is used , Kate but more and more kids are on bloody computer games instead of having a dob ( having a kick ) Thanks , Kate

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