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Redfern Oval 1964
8 Oct 2014
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I remember sitting on the cheap seats, boiling in the late winter sunshine, then freezing as the temperature dropped and the moisture rose. We sat on bits of plastic on the steep, grassy hill.

If I went to the toilets, there were always die hard fans hanging about there. I think, looking back, that they were drunk or “pickled “as mum would say. They’d eye me as I stepped over people’s feet looking for the toilet block, which wasn’t hard to find because of its smell. I would only be in there for the barest amount of time. Then return, past the kiosk selling meat pies and cokes- neither of which we ever bought.

My father had taken us to Redfern Oval; I at 10 and my sister was 13. She had large scrap books of hand- colored clippings of the players and teams. She illustrated each page.  This was before movie or singing stars. She kept these books in pristine condition and they were a work of art. I was jealous of them, but too impatient to do such work. Our favorite was Eric Simms.

Some games were so close in score but we would have to leave early to catch the train back to Revesby.Or the hooter would sound as we walked back towards the exit gates. We were always in a hurry to leave. The crowd was strong and crushing and I was short. I could never see the exciting last bit of the game, as I couldn’t see over the crowd’s heads, when they stood up to cheer. We never booed and considered it quite ‘Bogan’ to do so. The maddest we got was to call out “lolly legs “when the opposition’s goal kicker was lining up the kick. I swore it worked.

The crowd on the hill was always polite and I never remember any trouble. I didn’t realize that Redfern was working class and in parts very poor, until my uni days when I saw homeless people yank palings off the fence and put them -alit- into 44 gallon drums to keep warm.   

Of course, before global warming we had real rain in the winter. Many times we would set off with plastic raincoats and umbrellas. It was so torrential and the ground so sodden that water would run under and over you and we would get so cold. I don’t remember any hot food or drink with us. In fact I only remember thinking that South’s had better win to make it worth the effort. The plastic coats always crumpled up to a ball and I longed for the time at I would get real raincoat of nylon when I was in Year 7.

We went to one semi final and it was sell- out crowd of 60 000. There was wall to wall shouting, all good natured. When we went to leave and I was terrified of being swept along with the crowd and not staying with my father. Then I would hear cheers and never know who scored or who was winning! He kept a hold of my arm but the crowd surged out onto the footpath and I would lose sight of him. Eventually we would meet up outside the gates. Then begin the long trudge home in the cold to the station.  

by Alison Miller

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