WITH a lot of things in life you can choose to have a perspective of glass half empty or glass half full.

There’s no denying the fact that the Meringur Football and Netball Club’s football men’s side has had some pretty big defeats this season, but it’s also important to celebrate and recognise the positives that the club are fostering.

For example, last weekend the club had a father and son, daughter and mother combination play in their Millewa Football League and Sunraysia Women’s Football League sides… one of which was one of three experienced football veterans who pulled on the boots to help their beloved Roos.

And isn’t that what country football is all about?

Sure, premierships are great, and ultimately what players strive for, but if you can’t have that camaraderie in the club, those stories that leave you feeling all fuzzy inside, then what’s the point?

Enter Alf Davis, Joel Newson and Ricky Garner – three men who clearly have a soft spot for Meringur and who all pulled on the boots again last weekend when the Roos needed them.

Together they have played in excess of 130 games of football.

Let’s start with Davis.

It’s been 29 plus years since he played football for Dalwallinu in Western Australia.

“There were a few players out with COVID and with numbers down rather than forfeit I thought I might as well pull the boots on,” Davis said.

Davis commented after the game that while his mind said “you’ve got this”, his body said no and he laughed: “I’m the wrong side of five zero.

“But it was good to see Joel play with his son and with his daughter and wife playing women’s football it makes it a true family day out.

“Ricky has played a father and son game plus kicked a goal and that’s something he should be proud of.”

Like Davis, Newson also last played football 29 years ago.

He played for the Ararat Southern Bombers.

“I put the boots on because the boys were short on my numbers and my son Tyi plays for Meringur and asked me to play because he didn’t want to have to forfeit the game,” Newson explained.

“My wife and daughter also play for the women’s football.”

Newson said he found the game a bit hard on the body, but that was to be expected at 43 years of age.

“But don’t under estimate an old man,” he quipped.

“I even managed to kick a goal.”

Most of all though, he said, he enjoyed being able to play alongside his son.

For Garner, his last season of football was nine years ago at Imperials Football and Netball Club.

He made his debut for Meringur again three weeks ago.

I say again, because not only did Garner notch up more than 50 games for the green and white in Reserves in the Sunraysia Football and Netball League, he also played more than 50 games for Meringur earlier on, combining for over 151 matches in total.

“My kids went out to Meringur this season to help the Roos out with football and netball,” he explained.

“And after a few weeks of watching the team being short of players and drinking a few cans I said: ‘If you’re ever short I’ll pull the boots’.”

Although Garner said it was a tough game, and being beaten by 50 plus goals was hard, there was a 10 minute period where Meringur were able to kick four goals, which was an achievement to be acknowledged.

“The hardest thing is the mind knows what to do but the old body can’t do that anymore,” Garner said.

“Plus I’m about 50 kilograms overweight.”

There has also been some changes to the game since he last played, as Garner found out.

“We kicked a point and I went to the top of the square and the umpire said: ‘Come back 38 or I’ll pay a 50 against you’.

“I asked: ‘What am I doing wrong?

“He pointed to the line on the ground (20 meters out from goal) and I said: ‘Oh sorry mate, that wasn’t there nine years ago’.”

Garner said although it has been a challenging year, the club has a core group of players between the ages of 17 and 22, who can contribute to a bright future for Meringur.

“We have a fantastic coach with great football knowledge who is working hard with the boys on fitness and mental toughness so we know if we can get though this season and pick up a couple of key players we can turn it around next season,” he said.

Davis agrees saying the key members of the group are committed to seeing out the year.

“It’s these players and officials who are driving the resilience within the group and the club,” he added.

So the trio have a message for followers of Meringur Football and Netball Club, and also Mildura Weekly readers – and that is you are never too old to help a club in need out.

“For the guys out there who think they might be past it, don’t die wondering, have a crack because the team needs you,” Garner said.

“Too many people are asking what has the club done for me, but what they need to ask is: ‘What can I do for the club?’.

“Our club is almost 100 years old it would be fantastic for the club’s life members see the Roos hold the cup up again for the first time since 1964.

“The old blokes in their 70s and 80s with there wives still come every weekend to watch us.”

Davis agrees that more people should be lacing up their boots: “I can’t speak for everyone who says they are too old or unfit, but all I can say is get behind us and get on board season 2023.”

So they’ve all got at least one match in this season, but would they do it again?

A resounding yes was received from all three players when asked.

“If numbers are low and it looks like forfeiting for sure I’m back out there,” Davis said.

“I’m proud to support the club I love; we are family … Go Roos.”

– ZOEY ANDREWS