The Totem Poles of Ouyen United is Paul Daffey’s latest book, launched in Grand Final Week.
As Daffey’s own website states, the book marks a return to his original reportage days in which he hit the road with a notebook and a pen with the aim of teasing out stories that bring to life the significant part that country footy plays in Australian life.
Daffey takes up an invitation from Mallee footy identity Michael “Boozer” Robertson to go on a tour of the unused ovals around Ouyen. These ovals were the homes of some of the reported 43 clubs that folded into one club, Ouyen United, over the course of several decades.
Every stop on the tour marks a jump-off point for stories that depict the unique nature of footy in the Mallee, the region in Victoria that has been hardest hit by the drift from the land to the cities and towns.
Scoreboard Pressure had the privilege of proof-reading the final draft of the book, and enjoyed Daffey’s combination of encyclopedic knowledge, anecdotes about football club characters, and sharp eye for whatever game may have been unfolding in front of him.
And, not surprisingly, we were quietly pleased that two scoreboards appear amongst the book’s photos: Patchewollock (unused since 1999) and Underbool (still very much in use, see below).
Daffey also travels to Gippsland, Franskton, Wedderburn, Inglewood and Woosang in his pursuit of the pulse of Victorian country footy.
The book’s foreword is by Richmond champion and former Ouyen youngster Wayne Campbell.
The Totem Poles of Ouyen United ($30) is available from Paul: 0417 160 911 firstname.lastname@example.org
Other stockists include Collins Bookstore in Ballarat, and the Walepeup General Store