That’s Bush League: Camperdown edition

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FIRST off, let’s address the elephant in the outer. The Hickey Stand has been out of use for a while now, and unlike the real Kardinia Park we don’t receive any government funding to keep it running. In fact, we don’t get any funding. At all.

We know, it’s bullshit, but Daniel Andrews has stopped taking our calls and Malcolm Turnbull reckons the site isn’t popular enough to be worth his time. Ironic, really.

So it’s fair to say we’ve had a fairly long-running sabbatical to focus on things that do actually earn us a bit of cash, like getting on the punt and rattling fake tins outside Etihad Stadium on Good Friday. Ya know, just the usual battler trying to make a buck stuff.

But we’re back now, mainly because Mark Zuckerberg took some time out of his busy schedule watching our every move to tell us that our 1000 or so followers hadn’t heard from us in a while. So this is you, hearing from us, to talk all about … CAMPERDOWN!

In previous That’s Bush League articles we’ve looked at Cobden and Terang, and Camperdown completes the set of south-west towns that really, genuinely hate each other.

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Camperdown and Cobden line up for the national anthem before a game, as one ballsy kid wears shorts and a singlet in late April in south-west Victoria.

Slightly closer to Geelong than its Hampden League neighbours, Camperdown is considered the classier of the three towns mainly because it has a big fuck-off clocktower that wouldn’t be out of place in a major European city.

Just off Camperdown’s main drag – the little known Princes Highway – and in the shadow of the audaciously named Mount Leura (313m), is Leura Oval, the home of the Camperdown Magpies. A foundation club of the Hampden League in 1930, the Magpies have notched six premierships and hold the record for the most victories in a row, with 29 from 1999 to 2000 on the way to back-to-back premierships.

But it’s been a long time between drinks for the former powerhouse of the league, having not won a flag since that golden run at the turn of the millenium – a run that led their coach at the time on a journey towards becoming a head coach in the AFL.

NOTABLE PLAYERS

KEN HINKLEY: (Fitzroy/Geelong: 132 games, 79 goals)

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Ken Hinkley celebrating a premiership with Camperdown, back when football gave him a semblance of joy.

HINKLEY had the misfortune of being zoned to Fitzroy when his career started in 1987, so after just 11 games and 21 goals with the Lions, the skinny forward said “screw this” and demanded a trade to Geelong, sitting out the 1988 season.

Once at the Cats, Hinkley was shifted to half-back where he earned two All-Australian gigs, a club best and fairest, and a third placing in the 1991 Brownlow Medal, before retiring at the end of 1995 having played in his third losing Grand Final, something that we’re not bitter about at all.

Moving back to the south-west, Hinkley made the life-changing decision to take up coaching, grabbing the reins of the soon to be defunct Mortlake team. Lasting three seasons, Ken was eventually convinced to come home to Camperdown where he led them on the staggering run of 29 straight wins and back-to-back flags.

That performance caught the eyes of the St Kilda head honchos, and he was offered an assistant coaching role at the Saints for the 2001 season.

Realising that he might as well be back in a country league given St Kilda’s professionalism – or lack thereof – at the time, Hinkley gave up on AFL coaching and went to Bell Park in the Geelong Football League, coaching them to the 2003 premiership.

That was enough for Hinkley’s old mates at the Cats to come knocking, and he took on another assistant job, this time staying in the role from 2004 to 2009, including Geelong’s two drought-breaking premierships. Ken then moved to the Gold Coast Suns as one of their inaugural assistants.

Then, like an Anne Hathaway character in some sort of fashion themed film, Hinkley found he was just about jack of being an assistant, so went on to apply for several senior coaching jobs – all of which he was rejected from – before eventually taking the reins of Port Adelaide in 2013, where he has built a serious flag contending team despite the presence of David Koch.

SCOTT LUCAS: (Essendon: 270 games, 471 goals)

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Scott Lucas, who averaged three handballs a game in his career, unnecessarily practices the craft at training.

THE other tall forward during Essendon’s reign of one-flag-only terror, Scott Lucas was the underrated ying to Matthew Lloyd’s yang. Whatever the fuck that means.

A two-time club best and fairest, Lucas was like any good left-footer – absolutely deadly on his preferred side, but complete arse on his right.

Weirdly enough, however, the most replayed highlight of Lucas’ career was one of his rare right-foot kicks, when he sent a dog of a floater to the goal square only for Gary Moorcroft to defy physics and take the mark of the century.

Retiring in 2009 after 13 seasons in the AFL, Lucas has been inducted into the Essendon Hall of Fame and has – according to Wikipedia – a 15-year-old daughter, making us feel ridiculously old.

NORM SHARP: (Geelong: 88 games, 29 goals)

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Norm ‘Bull’ Sharp charges through the pack.

IF you ever have the pleasure of watching a Camperdown game at Leura Oval, you’ll notice the Norman Sharp Pavilion on the northern side of the ground.

You might not have guessed it, but it’s named after a bloke called Norm Sharp – a Magpies legend and the best player to ever come out of Camperdown, according to a couple of drunk old blokes outside the Leura Hotel.

Sharp, a ruckman and defender, played in Camperdown’s 1951 premiership before Reg Hickey and his Cats came knocking, luring the big fella down the highway to play in Geelong’s 1952 premiership. Incredibly talented, Sharp was popular with the fans, too, as recounted by teammate Bill McMaster to the Geelong Advertiser’s Danny Lannen regarding Sharp’s debut game.

“I’ll never forget it, when the game was over I was walking about 10 yards behind him and all these people jumped the fence and were running out onto the ground,” McMaster recalled.

“They were running out to escort Sharpie off.

“It was something I hadn’t seen before.” (Full article here)

Representing Victoria three times and winning a club best and fairest, Sharp’s career came to a premature end in 1957 after a devastating knee injury. Sharp would go on to coach Modewarre and Nullawil to premierships in country leagues, before moving to Dandenong.

Sharp died aged 80 in 2014 after a battle with cancer.

EASTON WOOD: (Western Bulldogs: 125 games, 18 goals)

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Robert Murphy and Easton Wood hoist the cup as Luke Beveridge dies a little bit on the inside.

THE best player to ever play the AFL with a moniker that sounds more like a geographical descriptor than an actual name, Wood will forever be remembered as the man who skippered the Western Bulldogs to their drought-breaking premiership in 2016.

Born in the brilliantly named Gnotuk, just west of Camperdown, Wood attended Geelong Grammar on a cricket scholarship and was somehow overlooked for the TAC Cup competition.

Snagged at No.43 in the 2007 draft, Wood has gone on to become one of the most reliable defenders in the league.

The enduring image of his career will be that of him joyfully lifting the premiership cup with injured captain Robert Murphy, while coach Luke Beveridge awkwardly looks on in the background, watching his lifelong dreams of lofting the Holy Grail high into the sky disappearing into thin air. Brutal.

PAUL BRODERICK: (Fitzroy/Richmond: 262 games, 170 goals)

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Broderick’s ability to levitate held him in good stead. 

IS THERE any greater torture in Australian Football than forcing someone to play 262 games for Fitzroy and Richmond during the late-80s and 1990s?

A Richmond best and fairest winner, Broderick was a prolific ball winner for both clubs, probably because there wasn’t anyone else talented enough to go and get it.

Born on a dairy farm at Glenormiston, north-west of Camperdown and north of Terang, Broderick moved to Camperdown as a 10-year-old, most likely with his parents and not by himself because he needed the space. Although that’s just an assumption.

Broderick is now the Victorian State Manager of AFL SportsReady, a non-profit company that helps young people develop careers in sport.

ROSS THORNTON: (Fitzroy: 146 games, 26 goals)

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Thornton and daughter Tarryn after returning from The Amazing Race, somewhat underwhelmed by its claims.

THE 1984 Fitzroy best and fairest winner played mostly in the back pocket, where he provided rebound from an overworked defence.

Having moved from Camperdown to Fitzroy in 1975, Thornton was unable to crack the seniors and instead played for Prahran until finally getting a call back to the Lions in 1980.

Thornton retired in 1989 but remains an integral part of the Lions as one of Brisbane’s board members, keeping the strong link between the club and Victoria’s south-west alive.

Thornton is also known for appearing on The Amazing Race Australia in 2012 with daughter Tarryn, where – like democracy and secularism – they were eliminated in Turkey.

 

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