Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Football Returns to Narrogin

Saturday afternoon in Narrogin. It was just like old times. The Field of Play marked out with stiff white lines, the corner flags struggling to muster a flutter, the goal nets stretched and taught, and Thomas Hogg Oval enveloped by the bush. And as the teams took to the field, black and gold on one side and sky blue the other, those of us with a sense of history felt pangs of sadness for a Narrogin that has gone. It is thirty five years since Narrogin Soccer Club began a swansong final season in the Amateur Soccer Association of WA. The completion of that season (with an enviable goal scoring record) closed the book on senior mens' Association Football in town, begun by Royston Macaulay Evans over a century ago.

Football historian Richard Kreider describes Mac Evans as "A brilliant all-round athlete, having represented WA in both football and cricket at first class level. He formed Narrogin's first football club in 1912 and represented the town in cricket, when they won the country carnival in 1913." Indeed, at this time the round ball game was known as Football, sometimes prefixed by 'Association' or 'British'. At the time, Mac Evans was employed in Narrogin with the Government Railways. Later in life, he was Chief Traffic Manager for WA Government Railways, retiring in 1950. And in the teams assembled to represent Narrogin during those years before the Great War was none other than Thomas Hogg, whose memory is suitably perpetuated in the naming of today's playing fields.

The Great War saw the Narrogin Football Club go into a recess, seven of the players serving in the First AIF. After the Great War, in 1920 Jack Clunas nurtured a rebirth of football, albeit on a more casual schedule of matches, and in 1950, a Narrogin Football Association was resurrected, given drive by European arrivals after World War Two, many of those spending their first Australian years in the Narrogin migrant camp.

In 1985, the club celebrated twenty five years of continuous competition in Amateur Football. This achievement was recognised by the body governing Perth Amateur Football by a handsome plaque which hung in the clubrooms for many years, up until the demise of Narrogin Soccer Club at the end of the 1987 season. I had the pleasure of playing as a regular in Narrogin's final two seasons. And as Albany Rovers took to the field in black and gold, Narrogin's old colours, to face Collie Power in sky blue, the scene was set on a warm, muggy afternoon for recollection and nostalgia and the sheer joys of football.

By Stephen Bowes (first published on Facebook)

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