One of those quintessential Aussie terms, ‘‘having a crack’’, blends ‘‘give it a try’’ with a laconic sense of ‘‘what have we got to lose?’’
It’s something Thomastown Football Club knows all about.
The club had been without a junior structure since the mid-’90s. But with young families moving to the area, and primary school enrolments booming, club supporter Paul Stewart and Thomastown president Mark Plowright this year started an Auskick program to teach football skills.
“I said to Mark, ‘We might as well give it a crack’,” Stewart says. “Even if we end up with half a dozen kids, that’ll do me. If we pick up another eight or 10, beautiful.
“We had 40 register and averaged high 20s every night. We didn’t expect that. A few of the older blokes laughed at us and said we’d hardly get any, but now there are young voices hanging around [the club] on a Friday night. We’re all stoked.’’
One thing led to another and the pair hope to field at least two junior teams next season.
“We always finished [Auskick] with a game and the kids just loved it,’’ Stewart says. After some parents approached Stewart and Plowright suggesting their children were missing out on the chance to play competitive football the pair decided to start an under 9s and under 11s team for next season.
They have been active on social media, setting up a Facebook page for the newly established Thomastown Junior Football Club, and have been spreading the word on Twitter. Nothing has been finalised but they hope to field teams in older age groups as well.
Plowright says it has been a long time coming. “Our juniors ground to a halt in ’95. A few years ago someone from AFL Victoria approached me asking to start Auskick in Thomastown and it took us until this year to find people willing to help. But we’ve had good support so far and we have a registration day in early February.”
He says the junior club will help the senior club grow stronger after a few years in the wilderness. Thomastown won the division two flag in 2008 but was relegated after finishing bottom of the ladder in division two this season with just three wins from its 18 games. It will play in division three next year.
“From a senior perspective, having a junior club is important,” Plowright says. “Hopefully they will be feeding the under 19s and then come into the seniors in future years. The numbers have been good at training and it won’t be easy, but hopefully at the end of the day it all comes together.” ■