VAFA Premier C – The CYs Preview: Round 2


Before they wheeled him out of the funeral parlour, the mourners gasped as a German military helmet was placed atop his casket. It was one of those hard-hats with a metal spike sticking out the top, which until that moment I had only ever seen in the closing credits of Hogan’s Heroes. At the wake, I was solemnly informed that it was called a pickelhaube, but there were varying reports as to whether it was genuine or had merely been purchased at a costume shop for one final posthumous laugh. If it was the latter, I am sure that most of the assembled did not understand the punchline.

Siegfried was in his early 90’s when he shuffled off this mortal coil. Standing 6 foot 4, he was an unusual fellow and somewhat aloof, a life forever affected by the fact that he had been – reluctantly, he maintained – co-opted into the Hitler youth when only in his early teens. I would often wonder what horrors those beady eyes of his had seen. He had been my boss for most of the 1990’s and had allowed me an extraordinary amount of leeway, the most important of which was letting me leave work early of a Saturday to play football. Siegfried would back his “boys” to the hilt, even though we mocked his heavy accent and called him ‘Sergeant Schultz’. Most controversially, he defended us against the wrath of upper management when an investigation was launched into who had forged the Managing Director’s name on a Cab-charge voucher; he never asked nor accused me specifically, but he knew (correctly) that I had been the foolish culprit.

However, his days at the plant were numbered when the inevitable march of modernization saw most of the production processes converted from manual labour to cursor movements on banks of computer monitors. Late at night, I would catch him tapping on a screen with his forefinger, trying to get some reluctant part of the process to de-bottleneck. He was oblivious to the fact that they were not touch-screens (had he known that such a thing even existed).

Years after he retired, his “boys” got word that he was living an unhappy existence at his home in Elsternwick, watching old war films and lamenting the fact that even in the movies the Germans always lost. Sadly, his wife was growing senile, and had taken to wandering about the house in her night-dress singing Welsh folk songs such as Men of Harlech in her finest operatic voice. We arranged a catch-up at his local boozer where we all talked like Luddites about the good old days when technology and political correctness had no place in the workplace, whilst conveniently forgetting how much damage all the manual work did to our bodies. He knew we would never meet again and we all got hammered on fruit-flavoured schnapps, with the hangover lasting a couple of days. But since that night, I have always proposed a toast to Siegfried on those rare occasions that I happen to darken the door of the Elsternwick Hotel.

Chelsworth Park, Ivanhoe, has always been an unhappy hunting ground for the CYs. But if we can escape with the four points on Saturday, it will be the second in a series of small steps on the road to me visiting the Elsternwick Hotel this September and raising a glass to Siegfried. Of beer. Not schnapps.


About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Lovely stuff Smokie.

    Do you per chance have a bloke by the name of Nathan Mullins doing leadership down at the CYs? He taught on a uni course I was on last month – and seemed to be spending some time at the club!

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