Round 5 – Brisbane v Port Adelaide (a sort of preview): And so it goes

 

 

 

From Tramalfador to Won Wron.

 

And so it goes…

 

 

There’s something about this mob that gets me twitchy. Port are the necessary reminder of mortality that keep the Lions (and Lions fans) tethered. But, let us never forget, that Fitzroy died so that they may have life. The very existence of the Port Power is a permanent reminder of football mortality. Matthew Primus, Stephen Paxman, Fitzroy Football Club – and so it goes.

 

But they were also there when the Lions, version 2.0, became kings. They were winning McClelland trophies while we were winning premierships. And, in 2004, it was they who stopped our threepeat from becoming four. For some reason didn’t sting as much as it would have if it was Essendon or Collingwood. My suggestion is that the best way to prepare for the pain of losing a Grand Final is to win three just before it happens. Even though Port are a constant reminder of the transience of success, the truth is, I don’t mind them. They’re a proper footy club, not like the conglomerate leviathan that the Eagles and Crows are. Being new, their wins against us don’t have any exponential generational heft attached to them yet. The scars don’t run so deep. Clubs like Hawthorn and Carlton gouged me as a child, but one becomes stoic about wins and losses as an adult. And the silver lining of Port not joining the competition until 1997 means that they never, ever beat Fitzroy! And so it goes.

 

Everyone should read Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. The protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, experiences life not in a typically linear way but, in accordance with the timeless Trafalmadorian philosophy, being able to revisit different moments in his life at will. In Vonnegut’s work, even in the moment of death one is still alive at any other moment in their life and able to travel there. Death is greeted with the genial phrase – ‘and so it goes.’ As a Lions man, I choose to embrace Port Adelaide, Vonnegut style. Yeah, they were the beneficiaries of Fitzroy finally being nailed to the cross… but so it goes.

 

Does it even matter, really? The Lions are winning but the girls and I won’t get to see them live this year. We are pledge members, but we are also live in Gippsland. The Victorian teams are about to evacuate for hubs in either Sydney or Perth. It may as well be Guatemala. Victorian members like me have learned to love from afar and watch the Lions peripatetically when they visit Melbourne. We watch “our” team in the white away shorts, and it is enough to stoke the fires until they return, corporeal, for their next game in Melbourne. As a result, maybe we Lions fans are better prepared for hub footy than other teams, but it’s still rough.

 

Like most tributary leagues across the state, the Gippsland Football League have given up on season 2020. And so it goes. I don’t have deep ties to any local team, not really. As a footballer, I make for a pretty good English teacher. I do like to watch Traralgon play though. It does the soul good to be reminded that there are experiential layers in watching a game that the sanitised Marvel Stadium cannot offer. My loyalties in local footy are definitely up for negotiation. A few years ago, I promised one of my year elevens that I’d be a Morwell Tigers man for that season if he promised to read the David Malouf novel we were studying. Truth is, I just like being close enough to a game to smell the dencorub and hear the crackle and fizz of mud streaked butchers, builders and plumbers crunching into each other. Even though terms like ‘team defence,’ ‘KPI’s,’ ‘execute’ and ‘quarterback’ have entered even bush footy lexicon there’s a raw, timeless purity to it. They kick to contests, run forward with the footy and, for a few hours every Saturday, give local towns their epicentre.

 

One of our school holiday traditions is a day trip to Port Albert to sit by the jetty and eat fish and chips for lunch. We throw the picnic blanket in the boot, bring the tomato sauce and more often than not stop in Yarram for an ice cream on the way home. This week I noticed something I hadn’t really taken stock of before. Just before you get to Yarram there is a little farming village called Won Wron. It’s really just a forest with a town hall attached. I’d never noticed the footy ground until this week. Won Wron merged with Woodside in the early eighties.

 

Won Wron-Woodside produced Greg Eppelstun who had a fine career at North Melbourne, representing Victoria as well. In 1990, their player Anthony Banik was the number one draft pick for Richmond. It’s not really remembered that his career started well, forty games in two seasons, before he contracted chronic fatigue syndrome and was ultimately delisted. And so it goes. The merged entity would go on to merge again in late the nineties to become the Devon Welshpool Won Wron Woodside Football club. Four clubs can identify their DNA in the appropriately monikered “Allies.” And so it goes.

 

The old Won Wron ground is gradually becoming farmland again. The club rooms remain, and the boundary fence is still standing, but the driveway in has grown over, the gates are rusted, and the sheep are recolonising. It’s sort of the Alberton league’s answer to the colosseum. I want to find out more about the ground, the original club and I hope it leads to another piece of writing when I do. My cursory research shows that Won Wron is the only one of the original four clubs involved in the multi merged that never won a premiership in their own right.  And so it goes.

 

 

 

 

When the restrictions lift, probably in 2021, my daughters and I will catch the train to Melbourne and watch the Lions lose or win or maybe draw. We’ll drive to Port Albert again one day, probably soon. Brisbane, like Fitzroy and Bears of old, will either beat Port and move to equal top or they’ll lose, and they won’t. And so it goes.

About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.

Comments

  1. Peter Fuller says

    Shane,
    I very much enjoyed your contribution. I was particularly amused by your deal with your year 11student (the reluctant literature enthusiast). The tour through Gippsland was diverting, especially your discovery of the Won Wron ground. I seem to recall that after the later amalgamations DWWWW were known affectionately as the four wheel drives.
    There’s so much to like about bush (and suburban) football, and the tone of much of the writing and comments here reflect that the Almananc community is missing that even as we’re trying to make sense of the confused AFL season. “It may as well be Guatamala” captures that sentiment succinctly.

  2. Sam Evans says

    Love the pic and the story Shane, thanks for sharing. Very circumspect.

  3. Shane Reid says

    Thanks for the kind words Peter and Sam.

    Peter, I reckon there are a lot more stories in that Won Wron ground. These are interesting times for the local Gippsland leagues, structural change has been a constant and it seems likely. I think there is discussion at the moment about the Mid Gippy and Alberton leagues combining.

    Thanks Sam, now that we’ve won I feel a bit bad for being so circumspect! Go Lions!

  4. Adrian Daly says

    A few readers might find your transient allegiances to local footy teams hard to fathom, but using that as a carrot to get your students reading sounds fair enough. Great read, Shane!

  5. Nathan Oliver says

    See some history and images of Won Wron FC at https://www.facebook.com/wonwronfc

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