I have put together my thoughts on the early days of the South Morang Football Club..
I grew up across the Plenty river at Yarrambat and I was 10 years old when a South Morang team was formed and entered in the Diamond Valley competition. There wasn't much of South Morang at that time, the Pub of course, a few stores, a butcher on the other side of Plenty road to the pub. A general store further up plenty road opposite the lane to the station. The motor rail was still running to Whittlesea from memory. There was a paddock behind the pub which was used for cricket and Gymkahnas. It was rather small and had a very rough surface, more in common with a cow paddock with large depressions which filled with water in wet weather. The boundry line made a diversion on the far side of the ground to accommodate a large red gum tree whic intruded onto the ground a couple of metres. Where the pub car park is now there was an old wooden hall which was used as a change room for the players of both teams.
A family by the name of Fry moved in opposite us in Kurrak road and they became active in the new club with several of the sons playing there and this is how I first became interested in the club. The first game the club played was against Eltham in which Morang were slaughtered. It was the talk of the competition. They didn''t win a game for several seasons. Each club was required to supply a goal and boundry umpire for each game and of course that was a job that no one wanted so a few games into the season Alby Fry approached my parents to see if I could run the boundry. Mum and Dad agreed so I began turning up at every game. I was tall for my 10 years and very fit but still it was an effort for me to throw the ball high and far enough to satisfy the players. I copped lots of flack from visiting teams but the club supported me. I trained with the club each week and became quite used to competing with grown men. My life ambition was to grow big enough to play for South Morang.
A couple of winless season later we left the paddock and moved to the oval between the tennis club and the school in Plenty Road. It wasn't much better. The change rooms were in an old tin shed in the north east corner of the block. Really only one room divided by a heavy curtain. The showers were outside with a tin wall round them for privacy and no roof. The water was heated in a wood fired boiler. Not a very big boiler so only the earliest got a hot shower. The club held working Bees to build a very rudimentary club house later which was named after Alby Black. The Blacks were great people and would pick me up outside the pub at every away game and give me a lift in their. little Hillman Minx. Of course the cars' colour was Black. Alby was a short rotund man who worked for the water board. Mrs Black was a large lady, very generous and kind. They both had boundless energy and devoted their lives to improving the football club.
I was paid the sum of 5 pounds per season which was a fortune for me. There were other perks as well. I was given one of the used footballs every season and at the start of the second season I was given a South Morang jumper. Not just any jumper but the jumper worn the first season by the best and fairest winner Freddie Jewel. No.2. The jumper had been washed in boiling water and had shrunk. I was the only person in the club that it fitted. I loved that jumper and kept it for years after it no longer fitted me.
The first win was celebrated at home against Montmorency. A wonderful happy day for all those who had battled on year after fruitless year. Poor Montmorency were rubbished by all and their great rivals Greensborough, sent the Mont committee a wooden spoon to rub it in.
By the time I was 14 years I would often play the reserves game if they were short and then run the boundry for the seniors game. I was going to school at Parade College in East Melbourne and played football in school teams so I was getting lots of footy. Most of my friends were playing in local under age sides and I was keen to join them so the next season I requested permission to play with Diamond Creek u/16 while being registered with Morang as they did not have any under age teams. Permission was granted and I played out the season at the Creek and then dash off the do the boundry where ever South Morang were playing. When time permitted I would make it to the Morang game after the U/16, play for the reserves and then do the boundry. Now at 70 years I wonder how I ever had so much energy.
A few years later I joined the RAAF. I would sometimes have a run with the old club when home on leave but I was never posted to any bases in Victoria so I ended up playing for many teams in Australia and overseas. I have played in Western Australia, South Australia, Central Riverina, ACT, Sydney, Vietnam, The RAAF inter service teams. A lot of fun and a lot of memories and it all started at South Morang.
I hope that you find this little essay interesting. I wish the South Morang football club every success.