I arrived in Merredin in early 1979 to work as a journalist (the only one) at the then Merredin Advertiser (the town also had the News Ltd/Country Press Advertising owned Merredin Mercury).
The Advertiser’s office, at that time, was simply a small area within Tommy Lake’s furniture store in Merredin’s main street (Barrack). I was soon approached, through the jumble of secondhand 50s and 60s furniture bits ‘n pieces, by reps from the local footy clubs, as was any new arrival (beyond 6ft tall and aged 22) to the town. Having previously known Burracoppin’s coach Alan Barnett (former Swan Districts WAFL player) from my days at Elders Weekly reporting on ram sales at his Seven Oaks Merino Stud at Burracoppin, I opted for a pre-season at Burracoppin, despite my boss, newspaper & 6MD Radio part owner John Ventris, being a Nukarni man.
Perhaps my greatest memory of pre-season games at Burra was one in which ‘Barny’ told me, an unfit recruit ‘fresh’ from a big night out at the local Oasis pub, to tag Johnny Garlett, a local spring-heeled fella and all-round good bloke.
Johnny could run all day and did so for the first half of a very hot day, with me trying to keep pace with him across the dead grass and in the air at boundary throw-ins and centre ball-ups (no umpires could bounce the ball @ Burra).
I was well knocked up when I came off the ground at half time, and recall not being able to hold-off vomiting as I walked up the players’ race. I had no choice but to turn (and vomit) left or right, rather than on a team-mate in front of me so I opted to unload sideways. Needless to say, it landed on and at the feet of a local supporter. My short-lived career at Burra was then all but over.
Shortly after I transferred (without a transfer fee!) to Esperance to work on the Esperance Express, on an exchange with Robert Taylor, an old mate from our WAIT (Curtin Uni) journalism days and later the inaugural editor of The West Australian’s Pg 2 Inside Cover section.
For more on Burracoppin click here…
Welcome to Scoreboard Pressure, Brendan. Nice yarn. Any of those newspapers still around?
Merredin Wheatbelt Mercury still exists and is the only paper in Merredin, albeit these days owned by Rural Press Group/Fairfax. Paper I worked for back in 1979, Merredin Advertiser, is long gone. Esperance Express still exists. It too these days owned by Fairfax.
The narrator/protagonist in Craig Sherbourne’s novel The Amateur Science of Love ends up writing for a wheatbelt newspaper in, I think, northern Victoria.Very good novel.