DARREN Lewis admits to being more than a little surprised when he began his latest literary commission – From A Town Divided To A Team United, a 50-year history of Heathcote football and netball.
And said he expected many people would be just as surprised to realise football has been around Heathcote since 1869, making it one of the district’s oldest football communities.
“The home of football in Heathcote has always been the Barrack Reserve and over the many years it has seen many great clashes,” Lewis said.
For more than 40 years the town was split in half – and North Heathcote and Heathcote Rovers were bitter rivals,” he said.
“The rivalry ran very deep and the town was truly divided until wise heads prevailed and in 1967 they combined to form the Heathcote Football and Netball clubs.
“In the 50 years since then the club has had its highs and lows, its frustrations and ecstasy.
“During all these years the club has remained a critical part of the community – and remains so.”
Heathcote president Andrew ‘Laurie’ Conforti said HFNC has been a major part of his life since he started running the boundary as a 10-year-old volunteer umpire.
Conforti said the club was looking forward to 2018 with great anticipation with a new building and a great ground.
Although he admitted he could recall how bad Barrack Reserve got in the wet in the old days and how, during the millennium drought it was like playing on concrete.
“We have enjoyed a lot of on-field and on court success, including seven senior football flags and four senior netball, a great record in 50 years, as well as numerous flags in other divisions across both disciplines,” Conforti said.
“Heathcote is in a very healthy state, financially sound and well administered, with a great future,” he added.
Lewis said in writing the Heathcote club’s history he had been fortunate in being able to talk to “some incredibly wonderful people” from across the generations - ‘‘they .
He said he appreciated the time they had given him because it enabled him to provide a more accurate and rounded history.
“To all of the people who have loaned memorabilia or photos I thank you for your contribution,” Lewis said.
“Heathcote has indeed been fortunate to have the McIvor Times record its history from the first bounce and still continues to promote the club through its pages,” he said.
“Unfortunately many of the club’s records have disappeared with time; and an accurate record of club office bearers, game records, best and fairest awards etc. have sadly been lost; making it almost impossible to record but I have endeavoured to make them as complete as possible.
“Photographs are important records for a club and its history and in recent years people such as Jocelyn Russell and Alannah Tobin have provided me with some great ones.”
Lewis said football and netball are games that depend on local newspapers and a rich oral tradition and he tried to verify everything where possible and apologised for any errors.
“I hope I have managed to capture this proud district and the Heathcote Football and Netball clubs.”
FOOTNOTE: Book author Darren Lewis was so taken by the Heathcote Saints he has signed on as the club’s publicity and promotion officer and his reports will appear in the McIvor Times during the season. He will also be providing a weekly ‘‘Flashback’’ report, looking at great moments in the club’s history.
His Heathcote book is the 13th in his series of club histories. The 14th is already on the drawing board to wrap up 100 years of Lockington football. With many clubs struggling to keep their stories and pictures in one place, Lewis is working towards building Australia’s largest country football database, trawling through thousands of newspapers and other documents.
■From A Town Divided To A Team United is available for $50 from Bec Dickinson 0447 332 350, Jack Paisley 0408 358 642 or Darren Lewis 0400 533 433.