Footy has been around in Castlemaine for a very long time. The club was formed in 1859 and when the VFA started in 1877 it included a delegate from Castlemaine.
This year I chose Castlemaine as my base during AFL Grand Final week – I’d heard it was a great town. The country choice also revealed I wasn’t entirely confident Fremantle would be there on the big day. Castlemaine is on the Bendigo train line so getting to the GF wouldn’t be a problem if required while if the Dockers didn’t make it we could have nice country holiday. Castlemaine and surrounds lived up to expectations.
The Magpies of Castlemaine play in the Bendigo Football League and won their last premiership in 2000. There’s an interesting list of notables including the wonderfully contrasting figures of Ron Barassi snr and Dustin Martin. Barassi’s last game for Melbourne was a win in the 1940 VFL Grand Final. In 1941 he was killed in Tobruk in 1941. Richmond’s Martin played his very early footy and first senior games with Castlemaine. His future is uncertain following recent inglorious events.
Carlton premiership ruckman Warren Jones, Saints big man Lazar Vidovic and BFL hall of famer Peter Fyffe, who played 19 games for Carlton during the strong early 1970s are other Magpies of note.
Two of Castlemaine’s most interesting players are well described in Paul Daffey’s great book Local Rites in the story No Place Like Home. Steven Oliver played 13 games for Carlton from 1992 to 1994 and was once captain of the Victorian under-17 cricket team. But he had no real desire to play in the big league and always drifted home to Castlemaine. Oliver was a premiership player with the Magpies in 1992 and 2000, best and fairest in 1995, 1997 and 2001 and the BFL’s leading goalscorer in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2005. One of Oliver’s 1992 premiership team mates was Derrick Filo who won the BFL’s Michelsen Medal in 1991 and Castlemaine’s top award in 1988, 1990, 1991 and 1993. Locals suggest Oliver and Filo are just about the best to have played at the club.
The live scoreboard photo was taken by Neil Belford during the 2015 season.
Since 1977 I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours crammed in with the timekeepers in that little box near the head of your article, Les.
Another favourite son at the Maine is Magpie games record holder and current BFNL board of management member Ron Cawthan.
Unlike Ronnie Andrews of Essendon fame I don’t recall Cawthan ever attracting the prefix ‘Rotten’ as a given whenever his name was spelt out.
But in early 2009 at the season-opening performance of the biennial Castlemaine Festival Ron Cawthan and I huddled outside the Town Hall with an Ericson mobile listening to the Round 1 call — Hawthorn vs. Geelong.
The Catters won and both of us celebrated It was the start of the Cats 11-game stranglehold over Parko’s mob.
BTW Wow Jones was an inmate of the nearby slammer for a period and was let out of the cells Sat. arvos to have a gallop for the Maine.