Wednesday 01 February 2017

Castlemaine Goldfields Football Club is 40 years old

Castlemaine res v Victoria Park

Castlemaine Goldfields Football Club is 40 years old

Roy Hay

Castlemaine Goldfields Football Club celebrated its fortieth birthday with a full house of past and present players and supporters at New Northern on Saturday evening. Club legend Jim Shepherd, who turned 80 this year, was named goalkeeper of the all-star team. A most modest and unassuming man, he played with South Yarra and South Melbourne in the 1950s, but I would not have learned that he was offered a trial for Australia’s Olympic Games team in 1956, if his wife Bernadette had not told me quietly. ‘Jim had an infected finger, which eventually needed treatment with penicillin so he was unable to play in the game,’ she said.

Jim Shepherd

The club also launched both its fortieth anniversary history, written by two former presidents of the club Robyn Lewis and Mick Evans, and a complete statistical record of the club by Steve Delmenico.

The World Game in Castlemaine is a model of what a club history should be. We don’t have many good club histories in Australian football and even fewer tell the story of a country club like Castlemaine Goldfields Football Club. Fewer still try to tell the whole story of the defeats and the difficulties and periods when the club struggled just to survive. This book is the real deal, because it does not gloss over the struggles and hence the successes when they come are all the sweeter. And it sets the club in its local environment. It reflects a specific local pride in what the club has done for generations of people who have played, supported, administered and watched the game. Reading the book, there is a clear sense that this is more than a football club, it is a local institution with a broad social role in bringing up generations of youngsters to play their sport in the right spirit, which means giving as much to the game as you take from it.

Club President Ian Flavell was delighted, though not at all surprised, at the turnout of present and past members and mentioned that there were over 100 Miniroos at the juniors games that morning. So the future of the club looks bright. At the other end of the age scale, the sprightly veterans of Castlemaine g’Old Spice took part in the Australian Masters Games in Geelong not so long ago.

Clubrooms at Chewton

The sense that this is a family club and a club of families was reinforced when the all-star teams were announced. Some of the younger award winners were not present to receive their plaques. Sarah Richardson is playing futsal (indoor soccer) in Italy, for example. So their mothers and fathers—some of whom also won awards in their own right—picked up the plaques on behalf of their offspring. Peter Richardson, Sarah’s father, and former player, coach and club secretary of the club, and two mums—Angel Jasna and Linda Newton—were among those who did so.

Football in Castlemaine has a very long history, not just in Association football (soccer) but in Australian football and at least one writer, Sean Fagan, wants to claim in rugby as well. There is no doubt that through the Butterworth brothers it did have an influence on the early days of what started as the Melbourne code and became Victorian and later Australian rules. The early pages of the club history show the research that Robyn Lewis and Mick Evans and other contributors did on the many attempts to develop football in Castlemaine before 1974 when this club began its formal and continuous existence. What happened here is not untypical. Just this week the Geelong Advertiser published a facsimile edition of the issue of 6 August 1914, the day the First World War broke out. Tucked away on page 6 is a brief note about ‘introducing the home game (soccer) to this district’. This was just one of five separate times the game was said to have been played for the first time in Geelong. So false starts, lack of memory, and struggles to get going and stay going are very common and it is good to be reminded that this game needs care and attention and commitment if it is to survive and flourish.

Some of the club's collected memorabilia

My evening finished up in the company of Martin Myles, son of journalistic legend, John ‘Shocker’ Myles. Martin plays in the second team at Castlemaine, obviously relishing the chance to take part in the game that he also played in Scotland while working in the media in Edinburgh.

On Sunday it was time to see the women, reserves and seniors in action at their home ground in Chewton where they have multiple pitches and a refurbished set of clubrooms. Jayde Steer opened the scoring for the women against Sunbury United. The star of the women’s team, Lyn West, has been a role model in the club for many years and still leads by example. Her corner kick led to the first goal and her commitment and distribution was first class. The women ran out winners by five goals to nil.

Castlemaine women in diced tops take on Sunbury United.

The men took on Victoria Park in the Ballarat League. Obviously buoyed by the occasion the reserves won five-one and the seniors by two-one. So that meant a clean sweep for Castlemaine Goldfields FC. They should have anniversary celebrations every weekend! Next week they make the long trip to Warrnambool.

The world game is alive and well and set for another forty years in Castlemaine.

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