The Seafood, friendship and footy is great at Inverloch-Kongwak.

Haje Halabi


We had been back in Australia only 2 days- in our brand new house in Inverloch, by the sea. My wife Lynda had just rang her girlfriend Bron.  Straight of the bat Bron invited Lynda and I to a seafood night at Inverloch-Kongwak football club, and, without hesitating, protein loving Lynda replied with an affirmative.

We had been part of the footy club at Abu Dhabi over the last few years and that was great.  And I had fond memories for footy clubs gone- Bright football Club, Myrtleford Football club, Oakleigh, Caulfield, East Burwood and Upper Ferntree Gully footy clubs were some clubs I had played in and been part of. Lynda herself had a lot to do with Wonthaggi growing up (the Wonthaggi blues then – “I have always a blue girl she insists”, and loves Carlton-argg!).

I was really missing a club involvement overseas, and we were keen to establish some connections in the town- what better place than a local football club? We had befriended Bron a few years ago when she was walking along our street with her two lovely girls Erin and Ellese. Our youngest son Jack had asked to pat her dog and what began as a chat over the fence has developed into a great friendship. Bron is married to Neil who at the time was coach of Inverloch-Kongwak. They were running the Sportspower store in nearby Wonthaggi. They had loved Inverloch and decided to move from Upper Beaconsfield.

Neil is now president of I-K and his name features on the wall of the clubrooms as a prime cog (best and fairest, coach and now president).

We had organized our boys with Anna, one of Lynda’s many nieces, and we rocked up to the clubrooms, which had been tastefully decorated for the evening with blue and yellow balloons and ribbons (I-K are the Sea Eagles). Bron was on the door and was taking money and tickets as the crowd came in. We paid our $60 each and walked in and did not know anyone else except Neil. Neil was running around like a headless chook organizing glasses, taking tickets, setting up the bar and greeting punters as they came in.  There were a few Foster lads there, I-K had played them that day and were narrowly beaten and I-K had invited a few of the boys back to their own function. Great country stuff.

We met a few of Brons relatives- Mum (Ira) and Dad (Trevor) were there from Officer, as were Brons sister Jill and husband Andrew. We sat down near the front of the stage near the disco man so that Neil could be close the microphone. The clubrooms are like any country clubrooms- past players and strong club teams adored the wall  (there were some rough heads there!). The bar is well positioned for good access to all, and we are all thrown in together like a big family gathering.

A group of nice looking young ladies are all on one table.

Young lads are on another. They are inevitably destined to meet and mingle later in the night when the beers and music start flowing.  There are some Under 15 players that are waiting on our tables, no doubt some up coming stars of the future. I feel most at home here and Lynda’s smile is getting broader.

The food starts. Bron assured us the food was going to be good. First, the salmon and salad. Then the prawns. Trays of them. Bron yells out to Neil: “We forgot to put the bowls of water on the tables for washing our hands”. Neil gets it organized. Prawns are peeled, digested and eaten in rapid succession. We pass a small plastic lined bin from person to person to put their prawn droppings in. Hilarious but effective. And we do it all again and again. Andrew and I can’t stop, the food is beautiful. Next come the Calamari and fish fillets, lightly cooked in a superb herb batter. Succulent. And the trays come again and again. We wash it down with a good beer or two. We smile, we laugh, we eat, we enjoy. And there is more. The garlic prawns and then the Thai curry prawns arrive. The smell of lemongrass permeates the air. I seriously need a colonoscopy, but I am loving the food and the crack, and it keeps coming.

Some characters on our table are Kate and Mark and Shez and Fish. Fish is eating fish. There’s Louis and Pete. I need to walk around and my good mate Mike is texting me scores from the tigers game- the tigers are doing OK and I am even more happy.

Its time for the raffle to fire up and Neil is joined on stage by Dylan (nicknamed filthy). His wit and humor keeps us going. It is an elimination raffle. 140 tickets are drawn and the last person left gets 200 bucks and a 5-kilo tray of prawns. I tell Lynda I am going to win this.  Amazingly I am down to the last 30. Names like Pencil, Tossa and Slug are drawn out. I am down to the last 20 then 10.

They invite the last 10 up on stage. I said to Lynda quietly if I win this I am going to take the bloody prawns but I am going to donate the 200 bucks back to the club, I have had that good a night. I am down to the last 8 then the last 6, and I am unfortunately the 5th last person to be drawn out. I go back to my chair and give the crowd a wave. They are a fever pitch now. Finally Chris Maher wins the draw but it cost him 150 to get there, by virtue of winning 2 pre- raffle top 10 spots to get into the top final 10.  That’s good economics there, raising money before the raffle even started.

Lynda and I had to leave a bit early that night to get to our boys. We are told the party got going and the kinship was flowing.  Inverloch- Kongwak footy club feels just like home.


About Haje Halabi

Born in Bright Victoria, went overseas for 2 years and stayed 18. Tiger tragic, father of 2 fine young men, teacher and obsessed with sport and the good it can bring.


  1. Alovesupreme says

    That’s a lovely story, and you certainly deserve all the intangible benefits which will flow from your immersion in your community via the football club.
    Lynda is clearly a wise woman, she understands the truism that as well as all footballers looking better in navy blue, the colour flatters all female supporters, and makes most males presentable..

  2. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Was there fish briyani on the menu Haje?
    That would have fed the Under 15 boys to the gills!

    When do Inverloch play Stony Creek?
    That’d be a great game to get along to.
    Pretty good catering at the Stony racecourse even post-Aunty Gwen.


  3. not sure when I-K play stony- but they won last week and are now in the five- the old final five- I reckon that is the best system of all y know- re girls loving blues- well all I can say is they are an interesting species….

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