Some events come to mind.
I was there when the Queen and Prince Phillip circled the Benalla showgrounds in 1954.
I was there when President Johnson jumped out of a car and waved an American Flag in a most idiotic manner in front of the Melbourne Town Hall.
I was there when both Sir John Kerr and the Melbourne Racing Club members acted shamefully at the 1978 Melbourne Cup.
The historical event which I am about to relate would not be considered as historical as the events mentioned above, but nevertheless was important and became part of history. And did include some shameful acts by upstanding members of the community.
It relates to members of my own family.
The township of Moyhu in the mid 50’s was much larger than it is now. It had three general stores. It had two fully functional garages. It had a large transport company. Several State Government Services with offices and buildings were located in the town – The River Trust – The Lands Department – etc. It had two milk factories. It had a number of churches. It had one butcher. It had one bookmaker. It had one hotel.
In other words it was thriving. The area contained a large number of young people. The baby boomer period was just beginning.
It had a very active football club. It fielded 2 football teams and there were more players than those needed for 2 teams. All vying for a place in either team. Football was important to the community. It blended the various religious and class conscious factions together. It provided entertainment each weekend. It provided social cohesion to the community and the community took an interest and participated in all its activities. Training was 2 nights a week and was always well attended by both players and spectators.
I had a number of slightly older relatives who played for Moyhu. Of course they were considered to be role models. In particular there were two brothers Ray and Bill who were particularly close to my family. These 2 brothers were both in their late teens. Ray was the elder by one year. Bill was more talented. Both were vying for a place in the first team. Both played in the seconds and both were considered to have a chance of playing in the firsts. Halfway through the season Ray was picked in the firsts. Even though he was picked as the 19th man it was considered to be his debut game in senior football. This was a big thing in his family and some celebrations took place.
However on Friday morning one of the senior players became ill and had to withdraw from the team. The normal procedure was that the 19th man would then take his place. Ray fully expected to take the field at the start of the game and did not hesitate to say so. After all he was extremely pleased to have the opportunity and hoped his many relatives might come and see him play his first senior game.
On Friday night it was announced that another young player from the seconds would be brought into the team and that Ray would remain as 19th man.
Ray felt humiliated and hurt by this and refused to turn up for the game. What's more, he told the Moyhu Officials off in no uncertain terms. Further, he demanded a transfer to King Valley.
For some reason, Ray was not treated with sympathy and understanding, but was told that he was a team member and would have to turn up to the game and be 19th man. He was told that he would never get a transfer to King Valley as there were no grounds under the rules to allow a transfer anywhere.
He was in fact treated with contempt and derision in conversation by most of the Moyhu officials. Some even saw the matter as being humorous verging on hilarious. I wont tell you their names because most of them still have relatives in the district. But I remember them. I was there.
Ray stuck to his guns and stood out of football for some weeks. The league itself granted Ray a transfer after some lobbying by Ray's father, who thankfully had some respect in the football community. Ray's father had been in fact the only person who spoke in his favour as far as I could tell. The Moyhu Officials held up the transfer as long as they could. Most people thought that he was being stupid and should have accepted his fate. For some time it was quite a talking point.
Both brothers went on to have long careers in football. Bill was indeed the more talented and went on to a stellar career with Wangaratta Rovers and coached North Wangaratta. He was even approached by Collingwood. Ray never reached the playing heights of Bill but stayed with King Valley for the next 30 plus years as player and official and unpaid volunteer. He fulfilled many club roles. As time went on and he moved away from the area he still worked assiduously for the club and he would have covered many kilometres in order to make his contribution.
The upshot was Moyhu disappointed a young person and King Valley got a grateful member who became a dedicated worker for the next 30 or so years.
Who had the best deal I wonder?
The historical event I want to relate took place towards to end of next season. Bill was by this time playing in Moyhu firsts and Ray was playing in King Valleys firsts. This however was the first time they had played in a game when both were playing. There was much discussion about what would happen between Bill and Ray. By this time it was considered that Bill was by far the better player and that Ray would keep well clear of him.
For two quarters the brothers played on each other. For the second and third quarters Ray kept a close check on Bill. Wherever Bill went Ray was on his heels. And, to be fair, it has to be said that Ray shaded Bill. This was a surprise to all but the statistics proved it. Ray was able to prevent Bill making use of his talent and was even able to wrest the ball away from him at times and put his team into attack. For the last quarter Bill was moved away from Ray and was even taken off the ground. The 19th and 20th men came on for a run.
Moyhu did win the game. Fairly comfortably. But this was expected. Moyhu always had powerful teams.
Even though Moyhu won the game this should have been considered as Ray's triumph. But no. There was not one Moyhu Official who offered to congratulate Ray and shake his hand. In fact as he came off the ground some Moyhu supporters lined up and jeered him. I won't tell you their names as they still have relatives in the district.
I know all this happened because I was there.