by Matt Zurbo

The oval of the Otway and Districts Footy and Netball Club was packed like I’ve never seen it for Scratcher’s 500th game. Every ex-player, all my old peers, kicking around the boundary, milling between the gums trees that surround the oval, gathering around the oil drum fires, drinking, cheering, being happy, having a great time. It felt strange, like a re-union that I had never left.
All three teams won. Juniors, Reserves, Seniors. Unheard of in our recent history. The weather was good. It was like the gods had given a battler who’d never won a final in 30 years of senior footy his due. He was well past his prime and playing in the Twos, but so what.
The last quarter in the Ones, when we’d kicked away and the game was no-longer in doubt, was just electric. I was in our best three or four. Played a corker for my old mate on his big occasion. Shoved it up all those pricks younger than me who’d given it away a decade ago. Had a ball.
Near the end, the footy was kicked long to me as I slinked along the boundary into the goal square. I out-muscled my opponent, and, as I fell back with the flight of the pill, the ball about to enter my hands, the final siren went.
“No mark,” said the ump. “Game over.”
The crowd roared, then booed, then laughed.
“The ball, Matty,” the ump said.
I got up, played on around my man anyway, rammed a torp through the goals, then pumped my fists in the air at the throng of laughing, cheering spectators – mates, teammates, old and new club men and families, four rows deep – and yelled:
to more cheers.
That one was for him, and a great kick-on to the night’s festivities.

It was a real win.


  1. Matt – that was magnificent. Pissed myself.

  2. Bloody umpires, no sense of occasion…

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    At my desk in Coburg, correcting yr.8 English work. Transported back to footy days in Warrnambool. That’s what it’s about. Great stuff, Matt

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