A film by Malcolm McKinnon
Football Stories from Country Victoria, An initiative of the Victorian Country Football League and the State Library of Victoria, 2007
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Malcolm McKinnon, 2006.
In response to a dwindling population, the Snowy Rovers and Orbost Football Clubs were driven to merge into the Orbost Snowy Rovers. This is a story of small town trauma and redemption.
Thank you to Peter Jenkins, Edna Towns, Rita Baker, Gary Squires, and Glen Davie. Archival video and still images reproduced courtesy of Orbost Snowy Rovers Football Club and "The Snowy River Mail".
[INTERPOSING VOICES] PETER JENKINS: I think from background-- well, the Snowy Rovers have always been very much a working-class team. A lot of the guys worked out in the bush, worked in the mills, you know, that line of work, physical hard, physical work, sort of went and played at the Snowy Rovers, whereas the bank people, the accountants and schoolteachers, all tended to come to the Orbost footy club. And it was pretty full-on rivalry.
EDNA TOWNS: Friday nights, I think you would have found that Rovers went up to the top hotel and the Orbost boys went down to the bottom hotel. You probably went to one butcher if he was a member of the Rovers, or a member of the Orbost, say, you went to him.
But it was really one eyed football, wasn't it? But then once football was over, we were all friends again, because we all live in the same town, after all, don't we? And we all have to live here.
RITA BAKER: Saturdays, your friends became your enemies.
EDNA TOWNS: Yes.
RITA BAKER: And the barracking at the football, Orbost used to be down one end, and the Rovers would be at the other end of the ground, and never the twain should meet. Otherwise it was on.
EDNA TOWNS: They started to talk about amalgamation. Some agreed. Some didn't. At first, I was against it, because you don't like giving up your main team. But eventually we had to, because we knew if we didn't join, we wouldn't have a team.
Mainly because young ones were going away for employment, going to college, university, and getting jobs. There was no jobs here. Everything was closing down in the town. So that's why we sort of had to join up .
PETER JENKINS: Prior to the merger, the only times both clubs had full numbers was when we were playing each other. We would go away and play advanced, and kids would end up playing thirds. Under-17s and them would play reserves. And there'd be reserves players played reserves, and then played seniors, because you really struggled. And you know, it was becoming quite embarrassing.
EDNA TOWNS: A little bit like a religion. You know, you change your religion, more or less, when you're closing down one club and going to something different. And that's how it felt. And probably Rita felt the same. You know, you're losing all those years that you were with one club.
It was hard at first. It was hard for me to go down into the Orbost sheds. But we've got over that.
-We just sort of assembled down at the club rooms on a Saturday morning, and we're given a choice of picking out our new shirt.
-T-shirt with the new emblem and that on.
EDNA TOWNS: We walked out arm in arm, and they took our photos, and everybody cheered us, said we'd done the right thing. And I thought, well, you know, everything must be going to be all right.
PETER JENKINS: All the mates that used to play against each other are all starting to come back and actually playing together, and they're loving it. From a playing perspective, things are really positive. And I'd love to be part of the first part of success here, and I'm hoping that comes sooner rather than later.