Territory Stories

Two football games - 1942



Two football games - 1942,


Smith, Tom,


Territory Times Gone By, StoryNT,






An aboriginal team had been included in the Darwin competition. Tom was included in the battalion team to play the Aborigines. He was placed on a wing, and was opposed by a lad about the same height and weight. It was noticed that nearly all the native team were playing without boots. Tom remarked to his opponent that he would need to be careful his feet would not be trodden on. The Aboriginal laughed and answered that Tom would have to catch him first. He was quite right. Tom was feeling lonely that day, only meeting his opponent on changeovers. The star of the match was the Aboriginal centre half forward. He stood about six foot tall, had greying hair and of course no boots. He marked everything which came within his reach, and effortlessly kicked goals accurately. It was amazing to see goals kicked dead centre from distances up to sixty yards, with bare feet. These boys spoke legible English having come from a mission station. The centre half forward had no idea of his age - no records had been kept. There was no shortage of "ovals" for football which was played every week of the year - summer or winter. One oval we played on was a classic. In the "wet" season it was known as "Knuckey's Lagoon" but in the "dry" it was Knuckey's Oval. When the Americans were in Darwin for a short period, they challenged our unit team to a game of football. We had never played grid iron and they had never played Australian Rules. It was decided to play one half of each code, and on the toss of a coin, Australian Rules was played first. The Americans were decked out in their normal grid iron gear, and were amazed to see the Australians in only shorts and jumpers. The game was hilarious. It became a mixture of all football rules. Even the umpire was bewildered. Naturally the Australians led at half time. After a drink or two, a delegation from the Americans came across to the Aussie team, and announced their withdrawal from the rest of the game. They said the Australians were too rough and they would prefer to call it a day. This suited our team, who were dubious about playing grid-iron. The rest of the day was spent in a picnic atmosphere. An American spotted a goanna and chased it. This did not please the goanna, which made straight for a tree and started to climb. The American was a professional in the timber felling industry, and promptly scaled the tree. The goanna couldn't go much higher and there was a stand off. Suddenly the goanna reversed and went back to ground straight between the climber's legs. It was too much for him, and he fell, breaking his leg.,


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