VAFA Premier C – The CY’s Preview (Rd 3): The E.H. Holden


The E.H. Holden


They rock up to training and to games in an assortment of rag-tag vehicles. In second-hand jalopies of all shapes and sizes. Maybe the bank of mum and dad has provided Timmy with an interest-free loan to purchase that old VZ Commodore. Or maybe Sammy has knuckled down and squirreled away every penny he has earned working the late shift at Maccas, until he finally had enough to purchase that reliable Toyota Corolla. Or maybe mum and dad are at once generous and foolish enough to let Johnny have their car for a day. If you are interested in experiencing an Attenborough-esque anthropological study of the habits of teenage humans, I urge you to observe the vehicular comings and goings of our Under-19 players of a Saturday.


Naturally, it takes my mind back to 1984, to my first car, and to the miles it covered when I was playing in the Under-19s for the CYs. I spied it for sale in the pages of the Trading Post, a bargain at $400 cash. My dad may have even haggled with the vendor to shave a few more dollars off the asking price. As E.H. Holdens go, it was an ugly duckling: painted a putrid shade of mission-brown, and devoid of many of its original chrome fittings. But what it lacked in class, it more than made up for in character. Like a tank, that old warrior of a station-wagon ploughed on and on.


It became something of an unofficial game-day bus, transporting a motley group of us to home games up at St Paul’s College, and to away games at far-flung points across the Melbourne diaspora. In those days P-platers were also governed by the .05 rule, so a sneaky post-match beer or two was permissible. The after-game commute would often take us via the Dan O’Connell Hotel in Carlton for a soul-warming Guinness before we made our way back to Williamstown. And quite regularly, that old E.H. would be standing silently, obediently waiting for me on Osborne Street of a Sunday morning, the boot still packed with kit-bags full of wet, muddy and stinking football gear. The odd fast-food wrapper would add flavor to the fetid air’s pungency.


The maximum number of bodies we crammed into that beast was 9. Half a footy team! Three on the front bench-seat, four in the back, and two in the wagon’s rear. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like the fear of discovering that making a right-hand turn in front of a wall of on-coming traffic, with the house-full sign in place, is not the smartest of strategies. It was the first and only time I heard the ancient 186 engine complain – and not without good reason, I might add.


It started falling apart by degrees. First the blinkers actually went on the blink, meaning I had to stick my arm out the window to physically indicate whenever I was turning right. Next, the windscreen-wipers failed, meaning that driving in wet weather was a fraught experience best avoided. Problems with the linkages meant I had to yank the three-on-the-tree gear-stick directly from first to third gear. And after squealing for months, the diff finally gave up the ghost one night on Melbourne Road. Fittingly, I was on my way to the Fearon for training; it was as if the old girl had said “Enough is enough, mate”.


This season, our Under-19 teams are both 2-zip, a handy start of which our group of battlers could only dream back in ’84. Conversely, our young 2018 crew can only dream of a swan as beautiful as my late and much-lamented 1963 E.H. Holden.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Paul McNamara says

    I remember Redgum pumping from the stereo on those trips to and from games

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice read Smokie, sounds like you got your $400 worth!

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    That’s a cracker Smokie. The good old EH. How did it handle the back seat action?

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