Yallourn Footy Jumper: one small history

Rod Oaten Yallourn 1Rod Oaten Yallourn 2



Ahh, the memories of the old jumper, and it started over fifty years ago.


1961 was my first year of teaching and I was happily plying my trade on the Mornington Peninsula and playing with the Dromana Football Club in a green jersey with a yellow “V”. They were known then as the “grasshoppers” and I had managed to play the first three games of the season on the wing wearing number three.


Suddenly my world was to change before I played another game. I received a telegram mid week from the Education Department asking me to report to Yallourn North Primary School the following Monday, not much notice but we all knew these things happened. So, much to my parents concern I packed a few clothes in the Morris Minor and headed into the wilds of the Latrobe Valley.


On the designated Monday, I was greeted by the Principal of Yallourn North PS and the Secretary of the Yallourn Football Club. The Principal was delighted to see me (another teacher is always welcome on the staff) the other chap had a look of great disappointment on his face. You see he was expecting some one a little different from me in more ways than one.


At that time I had a very distant cousin playing football who was also a teacher. His name was Max Oaten, he was about six foot two, I was five foot five and a half.  He weighed around fourteen stone, I was under ten wringing wet. He played VFL for South Melbourne and had represented Victoria. I had played three games for Dromana. Poor old Alex McGregor, Secretary of the Yallourn F. found himself  asking me if I would like a clearance from Dromana to play with Yallourn, and I willingly agreed.


It took a couple of weeks for the clearance to come through so I got to know the Yallourn footy club well by training with them over the time. The team was made up mostly of SEC employees, but there were a few chalkies (teachers), farmers and the usual array of tradesmen from around the area.


For my first game in the seconds I had number forty-three on my back, I don’t know whether the jumper too big for me or my skills deserved a higher number but I was soon given number fifty, the highest and last number on the Yallourn list. The Latrobe Valley Football League was a highly skilled and tough footy competition, really big blokes compared to the Mornington Peninsula League.


I never managed to pay for the firsts, a couple of times I was in the best players list for the twos and once after a few good games the coach suggested I might be a chance but then I cracked some ribs so I was out for a few weeks.


I played for the Sparks for three years and tallied about thirty pretty average games all played in the seconds and thoroughly enjoyed.


I have had the jumper for over fifty years. I removed the sleeves ages ago because they were too moth-eaten, but I love putting it on for any Footy Almanac  get-together, and I always have a bit of a chuckle when I remember the expression on the face of the Secretary of the Yallourn Footy Club in the Principal’s office.





  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Priceless Rod. Like the logo.

    Not “he’s got a brother who’s even better” but “he’s got a cousin who’s nowhere near as good”.

    Reminds me of when West Torrens picked up Daryl Schimmelbusch.

  2. The Sparks sounds like an intriguing name. What were the other club names of teams in that comp ? Were there the, Plugs, Shocks or Currents?

    I imagine Max Oaten, a forward for who played a few games for South Melbourne in the late 1970’s, might have been the son of your distant cousin, the earlier Max Oaten.


  3. Classic Rod.

  4. Rod – if the moths have eaten it, it must be good quality wool.

  5. Rod Oaten says

    Glen, Yallourn were the Sparks because of the close connection to the State Electricity Commission (SEC) The other teams in the LVFL were Morwell( Tigers) Traralgon( Maroons) Moe (Gorillas, I think) Bairnsdale, Stratford, Maffra, Sale, Trafalgar, Drouin, Warrigul and Heyfield. I think Michael Oaten who played a few games with South, was the son of Max.

  6. john gallus says

    Hi Rod. New to Almanac and find the stories very entertaining. I was playing with Drouin during your time at Yallourn. I think Mike Collins was senior coach. You might have taught with a mate of mine Ian Cooper. My last game at Drouin in 1965 when we returned to West Gippsland from Latrobe Valley was against your cousin Max. He coached Nar Nar Goon to a premiership that year in 1965. He was a great mark, pretty relaxed I thought and I remember a few lessons that day. I played for Melbourne Reserves the next week.

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