Old (Woollen) Footy Jumpers: South Purrumbete FC


Round 18 of the Heytesbury/Mt Noorat Football League, 1999. I was part of the South Purrumbete Football Club team that was thumped by Kolora. We got thumped most weeks that season. Didn’t win a game. We didn’t know it at the time, but never again did the black and green guernsey grace a football field ever again. What a beautiful jumper, right up there with the Collingwood AFL jumper as the best looking in all of Australian Rules football. When the AFL’s 19th franchise is given the green light, they could do far worse than adopt the South Purrumbete colours and design.

I grew up in a tiny place no one has heard of called Koallah. A school and cricket club existed there from the early 1930’s to the late 1970’s. A post office for a shorter period of time. As a teenager it was about an 8 kilometre bike ride North to cricket training at Pomborneit, and about the same distance South to footy training at South Purrumbete.

I played 3 seasons of under 17 football for South Purrumbete from 1994-1996. All in the number 1 guernsey, which was surprisingly available when I arrived. We finished mid-ladder in all three seasons. The 1996 season was by far the most enjoyable of my career. I was co-captain with rugged defender Joel McCann. Finished runner up in the team’s best and fairest. We were competitive most weeks. When I think about my football career this is the season I most fondly remember.

1997 saw me make the hard decision to leave South Purrumbete and play Under 18’s at Hampden league club Camperdown. The main reason was to play alongside my two best mates, but also didn’t think I was ready for senior football. While socially I enjoyed playing at Camperdown, I felt guilty all year not wearing the black and green. I got back to watch them every chance I could when our games didn’t clash.

I was cleared back to “the Beters” for 1998. Wearing the number 21, I made my senior debut in round 1, kicking 2 goals and getting in the best players in a winning team. That was the peak of my senior football career. We beat Princetown that day. They lost most games that year by well over 150 points and folded at the end of the season. Always enjoyed playing at that coastal town and it was sad to see that proud club finish the way they did. We won three games for the 1998 season. All against Princetown.


1999 saw the appointment of Trevor “High Tower” Clarke as coach. A huge coup, a giant of a man as his nickname suggests. He could really play. And could coach. Best football coach I ever had. Yet we never won a game in 1999. Only rarely competitive. Some stalwarts had retired. No other decent recruits came to play. He tried hard.

A couple of months after the season, the club folded. Player numbers had dwindled. The club still had a decent amount of money. But not enough to buy a competitive team. As far as I know only the coach got paid in our final season.

I haven’t played since. Being part of a team that got flogged and eventually closed it’s doors very much dampened my enthusiasm for local footy. As well as a few concussions during my career. Couldn’t afford to lose too many more brain cells. And of course a complete lack of ability as a footballer also has contributed to no longer being out on the field. I was a regular on the many South West Victorian interchange benches I got to know well.

Nowdays 100% of my football passion is for the Collingwood Football Club. Cricket at all levels, from the Pomborneit Cricket Club that is still going strong right up to the Australian Test team, is my main sporting interest. But I would have kept playing had the South Purrumbete Panthers kept on going. I’d make a comeback if they started up again. But that won’t happen. I’m just proud to have pulled on the black and green guernsey and been a part of a fondly remembered club’s history. Go the ‘Beters!!!

(For more about the South Purrumbete FC, click here for the link of the article with photos of the South Purrumbete ground on the excellent scoreboardpressure.com website.)

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Well done, Luke. Great stuff. Should be more refernces to Purrumbete in this site.

  2. Luke

    That’s a seriously good looking footy jumper. Simple but very effective, like it.

    With the club’s demise, has it been adopted by anyone else? With so many clubs turning to imitations or replicas of ALF team jumpers, this one sholdl definately be retained somewhere


  3. Neil Anderson says

    Writing to let you know Luke that there is at least one Almanacker and his wife who knows where Koallah is.
    We used to travel to Melbourne via Cobden and Koallah when we lived south of Terang. I remember a large distinctive hall on the right as we headed east but nothing else. Also there was a teacher from Camperdown High that lived there probably about the time you were at the school.
    The other reason the name Koallah sticks in my mind is it always seemed like a misspelling of Koala.
    As you probably know, Kolora ( there’s a lot of places starting with ‘K’ in this story) is still a strong team after it combined with Noorat in the Warrnambool and District League and has won premierships in that very strong league.
    Recently retired Brisbane Lion Brent Moloney is Kolora’s famous export.

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    Thought Moloney was a Wbool boy. Learn something everyday.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Excellent Luke I must admit I had meant to ask you how come you weren’t involved in local footy you have answered the question brilliantly , the jumper is similar to ,
    Greenacres FC in local amateur footy here in sa thanks , Luke

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    I submitted a very similar design to the GWS website when they were asking for suggestions for colours and a nickname. Green and black being the opposite colours to the Swans red and white. Losers.

    Can you still get a pickled egg at the Mamre Hotel?

  7. Great story Luke. It would be great to compile the designs of all the small footy teams that are now defunct so that we can remember the variety of strips that once were. Like Sean says – too many AFL imitations these days.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Skip, just enquired. No pickled eggs at the Mamre. Only pickled onions.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Bewdy Luke

    Someone should invent an invisible coathanger for all of these old (woollen) jumper shots.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    Now that is a proper football jumper . I love the coloured trim and the collar .

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Andrew. Agreed.
    Sean, certainly no other club in South Western Victoria wears the same jumper. I’ve not seen or heard of another club using it until Rulebook’s comment. Would love to hear about any other club(s) wearing it.
    G’day Neil, that would have been the South Purrumbete hall you drove past. It’s now a private home. That teacher still lives in Koallah, in what was the former Koallah school building. Koallah is often misspelled and mispronounced as koala! A group of guys I know played Basketball for a few years under the team name ‘Koallah Koalas’.
    Skip, hope the design gets AFL approval one day.
    Thanks Malcolm, Damian & Swish
    Spot on Pamela. Collars sadly missing in today’s guernseys.

  12. Malcolm Ashwood says

    My fault , Luke should have looked more closely same colours but distinct differences with , Greenacres jumper

  13. good days look back on photo which i have many well done Luke

  14. Neil Anderson says

    Yes you’re right Luke, it was the South Purrumbete Halll that we used to pass on our trips.
    I think I must have seen the sign to Koallah near the hall and I got the two places confused.
    I actually went to Colac the other day by chance and came back along the Stoneyford Road past the hall on the way home for another look. I did notice the South Purrumbete Hall has been turned into a private residence.
    The Mortlake Historical Society has just put up a photo of the 1908 Mortlake side and I was tossing up whether to send it in for the woollen jumpers segment. Unfortunately the jumpers don’t look very woollen. They look more like they are made of canvas or out of the stuff they wrap wool bales in.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Cheers Malcolm, had a look at Greenacres website and saw their guernsey. Still to find another club club with the same jumper.

    Thanks Lizzie. Am sure you’d have quite a few good South Purrumbete photos.

    Cheers Neil, I have a photo of the Pomborneit Football Club from around 1908 and they certainly are not woollen jumpers they are wearing, I think your description of Mortlake’s 1908 ‘jumpers’ sums up what they look like very well!

  16. This was a great read, Luke.
    It always saddens me when I read or hear about footy clubs which are no longer in existence. All the blood, weat and tears, all the hard work of volunteers, all the history, gone.

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Smokie. It was and is like a death in the family. The honour boards, premiership photos, etc. went to the South Purrumbete Hall after the club folded. Then the hall closed and got sold. Think the Camperdown Historical centre has them now, though nothing was on display when I visited recently. Seems such a waste.

  18. Very enjoyable and moving story Luke, well done, it’s important for the histories and memories of these clubs to be recorded and live on

  19. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Steve. Great to have a forum to record these memories.

    Found out today the honour boards are in the Carpendeit hall, a small place a couple of kilometres South East of South Purrumbete. Very happy with that.

  20. Graeme Williamson says

    Great story Luke . Loved it . I still have a pair of the green and black socks from my 2 years with the beaters in 1974 and 1975 . I was the teacher at South Purrumbete school no 1822 from 1973 to 1975. Couldn’t crack it into the 1973 premiership side but after the Foster boys and a few other heavy weights moved on I got a game in 74. We also had a basketball team under the beaters colors. Black singlet with green stripe. We played in the old Camperdown picture theatre and won a couple of grand finals there if I remember correctly . Graeme Williamson

  21. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Graeme! We wore all green socks in my time but remember as a kid, and had a pair, of the black socks with the green foldover bit on top. Remember competing against South Purrumbete PS in the school sports, they seemed like a ‘big’ school in our group of small schools. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  22. adrian english says

    great read luke, brings back a few memories as i usto play for kolora in the mt noorat league and then the heytsbury mt noorat league! i can only remmember goin to play down at the purrembete ground once it was i think around early nintees some of the boys relished that day playing in the mud, but it was to bloody cold

  23. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Adrian. What a great club Kolora was. By the early nineties games at South Purrumbete were extremely rare, remember one I went to that was very well attended. The move to play games at Cobden didn’t help the club at all, unlike Kolora’s move to Terang.

  24. Great read Luke I was a player in 98 and 99 Don’t remember your face but that was 20 years ago now

  25. Simon Todman says

    The colours have always been black and green, however an early Camperdown Chronicle (c1902) stated that it was black with a green sash. Maybe the players wives decided that it was easier to sow a hoop than a sash.

    My involvement started in 1972 as a seven year old. Remember the Diamond. I remember my teammates and I looked at the markings and didn’t know why it was there.

    The 1973 Grand Final was played where it rained heavily all day. The U/17’s won 2.0 to Imperials 0.9.

    The seniors won 6.7 to Lorne 6.5. Graeme Wombell kicked 1 goal to fall short of the CDFL goalkicking record.
    The point of discussion that week was whether Ken Boyd would play in the U/17 or seniors? He played in both. Ken went back to back with the league B&F in the U17s.

    In 1973 a lightning premiership for U14 boys was played at the Camperdown showgrounds. Teams from Camperdown, Cobden, Terang, Mortlake and East Hawthorn, and South Purrumbete. We won.

    U14 football started in 1974, with 8 out of 15 clubs participating, we often played scratch matches when we had the bye. There were about 40+ boys keen to play each week. We celebrated the 1974 U14 premiership at the hall, one of the selectors, Keith Vagg made a speech and said “Some of you boys will never play in a premiership again!” I thought at the time ( I was 10) it was bullshit by in fact I never got close to a flag.

    1980, I played my first senior game against Pirron Yallock at 15, I got 1 handball and a PCL injury in the 2nd Q.
    The following year we changed leagues and as I studied in Melbourne I couldn’t attend training. I got called up a few times after first playing reserves. I played under Paul Bremner and Greg Sambell. The club introduced a policy of if you don’t train you can’t play so that was it for me. I was now working in Melbourne and developed other interests.

  26. Luke Reynolds says

    Simon, I have a copy of the 1979 First Semi Final Record/Program listing you as wearing number 9 in the Under 15 team coached by my old man.

    Was aware of the green sash, thanks for pinpointing the year.

    Ken Boyd went on to have a wonderful career at other clubs in country footy.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences at the club, at a time when it was thriving!

  27. Adrian Morrissy says

    Hi Luke
    Played at Sth Purrumbete for Colac Imperials U15 way back in 77 i reckon , slope on ground running to the road , wet and cold common place, and change rooms what a delight
    Lots of good cricketers and footballers come from Koallah and Stoneyford way , Boyds ,Fosters ,Hall’s ,
    Treat to read your story
    Adrian Morrissy

  28. Luke Reynolds says

    G’day Adrian, spot on with the slope and the change rooms, especially the away team rooms.

    Boyds, Fosters and Halls among many good cricketing families in the district.

    Thanks for reading!

  29. Love the Almanac and all the comments. Great, but funny, nostalgia. I make some references to the Beters (but maybe call called them Beaters, thinking it was stronger) in my Purrumbete memoir Milking Our Memories: 150 Years of the Walshs of Walshs Road, South Purrumbete. My brothers Peter (BnF 1957), Cyril and John all distinguished themselves on the reserve field of dreams in footy and cricket. Newsagencies in Colac, Cobden, Camperdown and Terang all have the book.

  30. Luke Reynolds says

    Pat, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Highly recommend Pat’s book “Milking Our Memories: 150 Years of the Walshs of Walsh Road” to all Almanackers, a very well written and engaging book detailing the life of a pioneering farming family, the ups and downs and the times when South Purrumbete was a bigger and far more active community.

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