Those Other Days Are Gone

The car spluttered and shook, and a grey dust shot up through the floor as he crunched the gears back, hoping the little machine would make the top of the hill. After much protest it did. And when the downward momentum took hold, he slipped it into neutral and let it slide silently down the other side except for a sound like a gasping ventilator caused by air rushing through the car’s front grill.


The roads were virtually empty, a pretty normal state of affairs. The traffic lights constantly flashed orange: blinking reminders that we failed. No one is around to turn them off. Paper and empty plastic bottles swept across the bitumen as the wind blew up.


“What’s that?” said the young lad sitting in the passenger seat. He was pointing to a vast concrete stadium that loomed over the snow gums and quiet sports fields of the city’s once bustling recreation precinct.


“That’s an old footy ground,” said the father to his son.


“A footy ground! Wow! It’s huge!” said the boy in wonder. “Did they play footy in there?”


“Sure did,” replied his father concentrating on navigating around a broken-down van that sat stranded in the middle of the road. The van had been abandoned to rust where it stood. Its last journey was obviously some time back. The tyres were so flat they virtually melted into the road’s surface.


“Why did they play in there?” asked the boy. “Why didn’t they just play in the park like we do?”


“Well,” said his Dad, “inside the walls there is a park. A huge, green, grass field. They played the best games in the country on that ground and the best players played in those games. They travelled all over the land and played each other in these types of stadiums every weekend in the winter months. It was fantastic. Thousands of people would gather to watch. They would cheer and shout and scream for their teams. It was really something.”


The boy looked puzzled. His eyes were fixed on the vast grey facade of the building as their car staggered past it down the road: the road to the coast.


“How did the people get in there?” asked the boy as the stadium disappeared from view. He was now facing backwards, looking out through the dusty rear window of the car, hoping for one more glimpse of the enormous structure.


“Well,” said his father, “You had to enter through a gate, but you had to buy a ticket first.”


“Why did you have to buy a ticket?” asked the boy.


“Because there were only so many seats in the stadium. It couldn’t fit everyone in, so you had to buy a ticket to get a seat.”


Once again, the boy looked perplexed. He turned back around and faced the front again having finally given up on seeing anymore of the old footy ground.


“When we get to the beach can we play footy Dad?” asked the boy.


“We haven’t got a ball,” said his Dad.


“We could roll up some paper……or something,” said the boy yawning.


They drove on in silence. The grinding monotony of the engine’s labour lulled the boy into a drowsy stare. His eyes lost the will to stay open, his chin sunk to his chest and his breathing slowed into the rhythmic beauty of dreaming. Gradually, in his slumber, he leaned sideways and came to rest against his father’s shoulder.


The road wound through the dreary township, passing houses with closed curtains and uncut lawns. Lonely pet dogs stationed themselves at front gates confused about the silence. Out in the countryside footpaths gave way to stumpy salt bushes at the road’s edge. The car hit a pothole and jumped like a skittish pup. The boy popped up. Alert. He noticed the sky outside had transformed. The insipid but optimistic pale blue had given way to a menacing grey. He watched the trees bend before the ocean’s windy anger. The car was buffeted by blasts from an imminent storm.


“Dad?” he asked.




“If the people used to love the big footy, why did they let others put a wall around it?”


The man stared out through the windscreen. The rain was now hitting the glass with ever-increasing force. The wipers didn’t work.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. citrus bob says

    Dips there is a Movie in there?

  2. Goosebumps Dips!

  3. fresh innocent eyes are the best eyes.
    love it, Dips.

    The future is another country. And so is the past.

  4. ER – written with apologies to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road!!

    I might put my mind to what a better world would look like too!

  5. The Road to Beautiful. Thanks Dips.
    My fave Lou Richards story is a young Geoff Slattery following him around to ghost write Lou’s columns in the Hun. Lou stops at his pubs to collect takings, stuffing the notes in his pocket.
    They stop at a kids footy clinic where Lou is mobbed by kids. Eyeing a kid with flapping soles on his old boots, Lou pulls out a wad of notes.
    Ripping off the rubber band he gives it to the kid “here this should fix it”.

  6. Shades of Mad Max, Dips.

  7. Frabnk Taylor says

    Nice one Dips.
    Nice one.

  8. matt watson says

    Why did they put. Wall around it?
    Brilliant Dips.
    More please!!

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