Assumption’s 1976 First XVIII captain Sandy Symons called in the other day.
From Hay in the northern Riverina, Sandy greatly enjoyed his time at Assumption College and playing with lads such as Peter McCormack and Laurie Serafini – both of whom went on to 200-plus games careers with Collingwood and Fitzroy, now the Lions.
Driving around the college precincts, he was amazed at the change of scene from his days and was very impressed with the majestic new Neale Daniher Pavilion.
He left me with a photo of the main oval and Anderson pavilion of earlier times.
He retains memories of the wonderful post-game afternoon teas provided by local ladies. They were a highlight of game days with more than a hundred players, officials and umpires packed into the pavilion.
Sandy married a Geelong Grammar girl whom he met at a ball in Narrandera where she was working as a jillaroo in her gap year.
Just over a decade ago, Sandy was driving with his dad near Deniliquin in a fierce rainstorm, their car was smashed in a very bad accident and Sandy was left in a coma for eight weeks at The Alfred Hospital.
It was only when he emerged from the coma that he was told his dad had been killed in the crash.
Volunteers have played a critical role in many areas of Australian life.
Countless organisations including all of our sports could not exist without the ordinary Australians who give up their time and often spend their own hard-earned money in aiding their particular area of interest.
However, across Australia in these times, volunteer numbers are in decline with less people able or willing to put their hands up to be a volunteer and as long-time contributors age, they are not being replaced.
Assumption College has long welcomed ‘volunteers’ to assist in various areas, particularly in the sporting program.
The school fields a high number of teams in a wide range of sports enjoyed by boys and girls in the prestigious AGSV competition.
In charge of football and cricket and also sports director for four decades, I was well aware of the vital contributions of area people in coaching, umpiring, scoring, providing refreshments and untold other duties.
There are too many to list but names such as John Harrington, John Kelly, George Galea, Eammon McGettigan, Peter Burns, Maureen and Paul Rea, Tanya Trotman and her mum, David and Judy Watson were some of the standouts.
They went way beyond the call of duty. They sought no reward except an afternoon tea at season’s end and a ‘thank you’ card plus a bottle of wine for the men and a box of chocolates for the women.
Also, I relied heavily on student volunteers and there were many willing and truly helpful people. The list includes Hayley Casboult, Bridget Tait, Lauren and Hannah Cummins, Jessica Rea and Matthew Meier.
Those named still keep in touch, which is great. Lauren Cummins with her two children, runs a great bakery in Mulwala and she often comes by with a box of goodies.
A century ago
The Melbourne Cricket Ground, MCG, of today is a world-renowned stadium with a 100,000 capacity. The just concluded AFL finals series has seen the famous venue host huge crowds.
The scene today is far from the picture of groundsmen over 100 years ago preparing the pitch for a Test match with the help of Dolly the horse.