Off Season Odyssey – Part 16: Not Every Club Is Roses

Off Season Odyssey Pt.16.


Not every Club is Roses.


The plan is simple. Vaguely bounce through Kingston, S.A., then wobble towards Gypsy Point, somewhere on the other side of the ranges, where there’s work on the coast. About two days away, give or take. But there’s a beaut pub just off the highway, with an old weatherboard bar, nice beer, I haven’t eaten and Rod Stewart videos are on the juke box.

The barman’s young. Mid-twenties. Third generation, 200% local. Him, and the owner’s wife, cleaning the floors around us, are the only people in here. The town’s small. I’m surprised there’s a pub at all.

I ask him what the local footy team is like.

“A pack of wankers,” he says, like lazy facts.


“Absolute wankers.”

The woman, cleaning the TAB window, arcs up.

“Hey, be careful! My son plays for them!”

“I know,” he replies, looking her right in the eye. “He went me last year.”

She knows too. They ‘discuss’ it. She blames the girlfriend. Says it’s okay, they won’t last.

We can both tell she’s hoping.

He fires a few comments back. I think they need this. He speaks his mind, every time. Straight up, right off the bat, I like him.


I order another.

“They get too many players from the big towns and city,” he says. “They think their shit don’t stink. They’re their own town. Their own circle.”

He tells me about a footy function where an older player from Adelaide kept feeling up a 15 year old from town, right in front of the mother and father. The boys sorted him. There was blood, police, but that shit shouldn’t happen.

I agree. Mercenaries, too many of them think they own everything. Some clubs think they own everything.


“You go to the footy, and they try to stare you down,” he says, a few beers later.

“You still go to the footy!?” I ask.

He says nothing, as if of course he does. As if that’s what you do in small towns. As if liking the blokes has nothing to do with it.

They stare you down?!” I protest.

“As they’re walking off.”

I’ve been through this town before, and heard it from others. In some places it’s a culture.

The lady apologises for airing her personal affairs in front of a stranger.

“You don’t even know the story,” she tells me.

“Yes I do,” I tell her. “I come from a small town.”

I know it perfectly.


The bloke asks me if I’d like another beer. I really should get some food in my gut, push on to a bigger town, not off the highway, further down it, but this barman’s a corker. I notice my mouth saying:


Not every club is roses.

An old salt walks in to bet on the doggies. Between the two of us, we keep the bar open.


I’m half way to drunk by 11, an hour past close. The place is a ghost town. I grab my six-pack, dog, get in the ute, and head in the wrong direction, because there is no wrong direction, into the desert. No map required. There is the sweetest half moon and silence.

I hate backtracking. I’ll see which way the ute’s pointing when I wake up and make new plans tomorrow.




  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Kingston home of Michael Kingo Taylor , Norwood Champion who also had a significant
    career at , Collingwood fantastic genuine bloke would be great for your book .
    The mercenaries part of your article really struck a chord with me I am rapt to be a part of , Ad Uni FC where no one gets paid and plays for the right reason the love of the game Thanks Matt

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