Port Fairy football club to celebrate 150 year milestone this weekend

When you hit the football ground this weekend, spare a thought for the players in the first Port Fairy football team who played in sand dunes 150 years ago. 

The Port Fairy club celebrates the milestone this weekend where many stories will be shared among its devotees. 

150 year celebration chairman Brendan Fitzgibbon said it was an amazing milestone and Port Fairy had a rich history as one of the oldest football clubs in Victoria.

Then and now: Port Fairy 350-game netballer Nicole Dwyer and 1958 premiership player Jimmy Murray will celebrate the club's 150th anniversary. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Then and now: Port Fairy 350-game netballer Nicole Dwyer and 1958 premiership player Jimmy Murray will celebrate the club's 150th anniversary. Picture: Morgan Hancock

He said its first game was between Belfast and Warrnambool lasted for six hours. It ended in a one-all draw with spectators joining in throughout the game. “It was bizarre back then,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. “It was played on what they call jetty flat. A report (in The Belfast Gazette) says the ground was most unsuitable because of the tussocks and the hilly terrain.”

He said organisers had come across some great stories while researching and compiling a 150-year commemorative booklet for the celebrations. 

Mr Fitzgibbon said another anecdote was when a game in 1947 was delayed and had to be held under lights, the headlights of the cars parked around the boundary line. 

“The umpires used to come down from Melbourne on the train and the train was late. The game didn’t start until 4.40pm and they finished the game under the headlights of the cars that were parked around the oval.”

Port Fairy’s oldest living premiership players will also make the trek back to the Gardens Oval this weekend.

“We’ve had all the remaining 1958 grand final players all want to get back together. It will probably be the last time they catch up all together. There’s only six of those left and they’re all coming,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

He said the club’s name had changed over the years: “It’s been called many things as it’s gone on. We had the Port Fairy Naval Cadets there for a while and the Rovers. Over the years even the fishermen had a team at one stage.” 

The weekend reunion includes a past players day at the club on Saturday and a meet the players event on Saturday night with a barbecue dinner.

There will be a memorabilia display and talks from past players and coaches on Sunday at the St Patrick’s Primary School hall. One and two-day tickets can be purchased on the day.

“It’s for everyone, past players, supporters and whoever has been involved at the club to come back and see people they haven't seen for a long time and to look at the memorabilia and to have something to eat and drink and have a laugh,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“150 years is a pretty amazing time to be running a football club.” 

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