Wednesday 28 July 2010. 3pm, Daylesford.
Chris Grant. That’s my sum knowledge of Daylesford Football Club. Chris Grant, Footscray/Western Bulldogs champion, is a Daylesford boy.
The Daylesford ground is part of Victoria Park, the third I’ve come across in my scoreboard travels (the others being in Collingwood and Inverleigh).
This Victoria Park is also home to a caravan park and the annual agriculutral show in November. Not there are many caravans or prize-winning livestock here in the middle of the 2010 winter. Or any sign of Chris Grant.
The tiny tin and steel High Spa Angus Stud/Jayco scoreboard is open. It’s no castle, measuring a little under two metres across. Enough room, just, for three chairs. The slide-in white-on-black tin numbers seem quite small compared to the 30 by 40 centimetre tin numbers I use at Williamstown.
I give the home team a 21 point lead, figuring they play this big ground better than anyone else. The two metre wide red gravel track between the boundary line and the fence adds to the sense of space.
July 2012, a school-crossing
Two years later I am standing beside Chris Grant and his children, ready to blow my whistle. We are waiting for the traffic lights to change outside a primary school in Melbourne’s west. Blowing a whistle as a school-crossing supervisor is a form of umpiring, I suppose.
Chris Grant is standing there and I’m wondering if there’s enough time between the changing of the traffic lights to ask him about his junior footy days at Daylesford. But I don’t want to impose on him and, besides, I should be thinking about the cars and the lights and the other families, about the toddlers and the bikes and the scooters and the kids bouncing their basketballs. This is no place to be asking Chris Grant if he remembers the High Spa Angus Stud/Jayco scoreboard at Victoria Park.
The pedestrian lights go green. The cars pull up. I blow my whistle. Chris Grant walks across the road with his children, nodding a thank-you.
Saturday 12 January 2013, 11am, Daylesford
I return to Daylesford, and other grounds, to research my ‘Scoreboard roads’ story for the book Footy Town.
An elderly white-haired man is walking a slow lap of the very green, very wide oval, keeping to the red gravel track. “Ground’s looking good,” he says, and keeps walking, not needing a reply.
I climb into the scoreboard and extend the Bulldogs’ 2010 lead to an emphatic 56 point win.
This extract is from Footy Town, Stories of Australia’s Game, Malarkey Publications 2013