Local sports historian Bob Utber has spent the past five years researching his seminal sports book – “The History of the Lang Lang Football Club – 1900 to 2020” and it has now been published.
Under the title ‘Heart and Soul’, he spent hours and hours researching records of the club, newspapers and other media outlets looking for facts about his first football club.
It would be hard to estimate just how much time was spent on the book over five years as Utber had to travel from Mildura on many occasions to Lang Lang in South Gippsland to compete research as well as interview people involved with the club.
“I would hate to say just how much time I spent but it was well worth it in the end,” Mr Utber said.
He says he was fortunate in having the assistance of a young Lang Lang player by the name of Lachie Barwick.
“The book would not have been achieved without the statistical facts found by Lachie about every player and every game since 1900. His research was outstanding,” Mr Utber said.
Graphics Arts teacher at SuniTAFE, Sophie Cook, created a fantastic book with her cover and design work.
The research brought many facts to light that were not previously known about the club, including the fact that one of their players (Harry Harker) moved to Mildura after he retired from football.
Harker went to Melbourne aged 32 and played 54 games for the Fuchsias and kicked 146 goals in four seasons.
He was quoted as saying: “He should have gone to Melbourne earlier in life.”
When he died in 1961, his funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Mildura.
Mr Utber is passionate about sports history and bemoans the fact that many sporting organisations throughout Australia do not have a history of their club.
“I think that it behoves all clubs to have some sort of history so that people coming into the club just know what has happened in the past,” he said.
“The young players of today would not have a clue on the history of their club and it riles me as many of them are very well paid for their footy.”
On the field, Lang Lang has not been a successful club with only four premierships in 120 years and their last in 1936.
The club has however, produced nine players at the top level, including Hayley Wildes who played in the first AFLW premiership team with Footscray.
Mr Utber’s hope is that people from all walks of sport will read the book and gain a greater appreciation of their own particular club.
The book is available from Collins Booksellers in Mildura and from Bob Utber at firstname.lastname@example.org.