The library, the footy, it’s a small world

Football spectators 1923

Spectators at a football match in South Australia 1923

I was at the State Library today and saw an exhibition there about football in South Australia – 140 years of it. It was terrific – some fantastic old videos, photos, memorabilia, not just of the SANFL teams, but country sides too, where footy was a big part of local life and in some places still is. There were quite a few people there having a look, and I ran into Jason, a colleague from work. We exchanged thoughts about the 1972 SANFL Grand Final (highlights were on view) – North defeated Port. My dad is a big North fan, and Jason, my colleague is a Port supporter and said he had been gutted as a kid when they lost that match.

When I was a kid, Auburn had a football team in the Mid-North Football League – the other sides were Riverton, Saddleworth, Mintaro-Manoora, Robertstown and Aberdeen (Burra). The netballers (it was called basketball at the time) also played against the same towns, so women and men all headed in the same direction every Saturday afternoon through the winter months. We had a terrific footy team for a few years and were premiers in 1968. The women were successful more consistently than the men – I was a member of the C2 team which were runners up in 1971 (we lost to Saddleworth) (the highlight of my sporting life!). Mintaro-Manoora (Min-Man) had a long period of dominance in the footy – we always put it down to the fact that they got players from all over the place – our family name for Min-Man was Min-Man-Far-Wart-Black-Loo for Mintaro, Manoora, Farrell Flat, Watervale, Black Springs, Waterloo!

Anyway, it was always a great part of the week – heading off in the car to the local ground or away to neighbouring towns, cars parked around the oval, with tooting horns when our side kicked a goal, and pasties at half time from the respective kiosks. Netball games were also played throughout the afternoon – oranges at half time, assisting with scoring in matches for the other grades, barracking wildly when finals came around or in close games.

So it was good to see the displays today – old minute books from country clubs, mascots, team photos, the women’s league, the big names, church leagues, Aboriginal sides (apparently Koonibba is the oldest indigenous football club in Australia), badges, player scrapbooks, football programs, Magarey medals, footy stickers, Mail Medal winners (awards to country footballers in the various regions sponsored by the Sunday Mail) etc etc.

Football team 1925

The Koonibba team of 1925 – the white guy in the back row is the pastor, and at the front is the umpire. Not sure about the chap on the right with the hat.

Apparently football matches stopped being played during world war one as so many men were away, but in 1918 or thereabouts there was a match between two women’s teams – almost 100 years before the start of the women’s AFL.

Football women's team 1918

The women’s football match, 1918

The display also included Ken Farmer’s scrapbooks. Farmer played for North Adelaide, so I have heard a lot about him from dad. He was an amazing goal kicker – quite incredible. Once he kicked 23 goals in one game – against West Torrens: apparently he kicked 23.6 out of the side’s total score of 26.11!!!

Football Ken_Farmer_SANFL

Ken Farmer

Libraries are wonderful keepers of records and play a key role in reminding us about the ways we have lived.  The items on display are quirky and so marvellously ordinary – they give a really strong sense of what life has been like for many people. What a gift to us all.

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