Moorook-Kingston, South Australia

Photo by Sue Battams
Photo by Sue Battams

Story by Rob McLean

Photos by  Sue Battams and Rob McLean

A nervous smile plays across the lips of Moorook-Kingston Football Club’s Jarrod Munn as he lines up for goal.

He knows that he’s a shaky proposition when it comes to set shots and so do his team-mates.

Playing his 250th game for the club in the Riverland Independent football competition, his fellow Warriors had already given him a chance to get his name on the scoresheet in his milestone match – a shot that he missed.

This time, with the clock running down, ‘Munny’ knows he is probably facing his last chance to kick a goal in this game.

In a fairy tale finish, Munn slots the goal, adding the final major to the scoreboard in a one-sided win against Wunkar (a club the Warriors almost merged with at one point) at the club’s annual Captain’s Day past players function.

Much-loved by his team-mates, Munny looks better-suited to a career as a jockey and over nearly 300 games in the Riverland (he played 45 with Loxton North in the Riverland Football League) he has fearlessly thrown his body into the fray again and again, often being treated like a ragdoll in the process.

He is the third of four generations of Moorook-Kingston footballers.

It was highly appropriate that the little fella, a talisman for the club, was able to put the final score on the board on his big day.

Moorook footy banner
Photo by Sue Battams
Moorook scoreboard
Image courtesy of Sue Battams

Scoreboard attendants at the club have it a lot better now than they did in the past decade.

The scoreboard was once a rickety old thing, with the distance between the planks, which formed the platform that the attendants stood upon, seemingly growing in width each season

However, the scoreboard has been upgraded in recent years.

It now gives the attendants a sturdier platform on which to watch the game and even shelter for when the weather gets rough (although that rarely happens in the sunny Riverland).

A perspex door provides extra shelter from the elements, if required, as well as a storage area for all of the numbers and team names that go on the board.

Moorook scoreboard
Photo by Rob McLean

For the uninitiated, Moorook is on the River Murray around 200 kilometres east of Adelaide and is located just off the Sturt Highway on the road to Loxton.

It is a small community, best-known as the home of Nippy’s fruit juice, an iconic South Australian brand.

The football club, like most in the region’s second tier competition, is small and relies on players coming from across the Riverland and from Adelaide to fill numbers.

The oval’s significant quirk is that it is short enough that the 50 metre arcs at each end are, in fact, 40 metre arcs.

Club legend John Will runs the business, MGA Insurance Brokers, based in the nearby town of Loxton, which sponsors the scoreboard.

A former premiership player and very proud contributor to the club, Will also paid for the scoreboard’s upgrade, a further significant contribution to the club.

Will’s son, Ben, who lives in Adelaide, is currently enjoying a return to the club, while his grandson, Sam Morena, is following in the footsteps of his father, former club captain Vic Morena (who, sadly, died 10 years ago this year), by playing for the Warriors.

This is not the scoreboard present in my time playing at the club in the mid-2000s.

The one day I remember the scoreboard most was in my first season, 2004, when the Warriors took on Lyrup in a contest that would leave the winner the sole remaining undefeated side in the competition – there was a lot on the line.

A free kick, dodgy, surely, to Lyrup ruckman Heath Wilmott was awarded just outside the goal square at point-blank range with seconds left on the clock.

Agonised looks from myself and a few of the other Moorook-Kingston players around the contest told us the bad news – the scoreboard showed we were only two points up and this was likely to be the last kick of the game (for once the kids on the scoreboard had the figures up to date).

The sound of the siren as Wilmott lined up for goal reinforced the view that all was lost.

Somehow, the big Lion conjured up a kick that resulted in a behind and the Warriors were victorious, celebrating a great escape.

Lyrup had the last laugh, though, defeating Moorook-Kingston in the premiership decider at Paringa later in the year by 58 points, my last grand final as a player.

In 2013, the two clubs are now in contrasting positions.

Lyrup, which celebrated its centenary just a few years ago, went into recess this year as it struggled to find enough players to field a side, a situation some people find symptomatic of country football in SA at the current time.

Moorook-Kingston, on the other hand, is enjoying a finance led resurgence, buying in a fleet of players to ensure the club, which was, itself, on the verge of folding last season, has a future.

There is no doubt the Warriors will be adding some more big scores to that scoreboard as the season progresses.

Rob McLean’s previous contributions were about Berri, Borrika, and Sevenhills. Rob is an award-winning journalist, and editor of the South Australian-based cricket website Wicket To Wicket 

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