There is a relatively small patch of grass in Davies Park in West End that means an awful lot to the club that call it home.
Once just a disused rugby league training oval, the West End Partisans Football Club has invested time, energy and money into creating a suitable field where they can play the game they love. Indeed, Club President Paul O’Kane says he is a bit of a green grass expert at this stage. “Mowing is probably our single biggest cost and line marking facilities … every single cent that we end the year with, it goes back into the field … trying to maintain and grow grass for this field.”
“One of the reasons that we chose the name, Partisans, is that partisans is generally a disorganised guerrilla group that’s not based upon religion or politics but based upon a certain small bit of land that they’re defending,” adds long-time club member Adrian Candaten.
This is our bit of land that we defend … we feel like we belong to this little bit of land. The club started out small in 1995 with a group getting together for a social kick around on weekend afternoons in Orleigh Park. There are now more than 100 members with three men’s teams and two women’s teams competing in a couple of different Brisbane leagues.
O’Kane says their philosophy is a little bit different to other clubs. “Basically there is no club structure saying who can play where, or grading you on your quality. For example, the women’s teams, anyone that joins goes straight into the bottom women’s team. They may be English premier league sort of players but too bad if you’re new, that’s where you go and that has lead to some startling results.”
While it is best for potential new members to join at the start of the season, Paul says they do welcome enquiries at any time. “Within one or two months you’ll get players who’ve got injuries or jobs overseas. We’ve had players play one game and then move overseas. It’s a dynamic thing … we’ll always take any enquiries.”
But there is at least one player in their over-35 side who was signed up in a more unconventional manner. They were short a player ahead of a recent game, when Paul managed to find someone just in time. “I was driving home from Annerley at 11 o’clock thinking what am I going to do, and I saw a guy in Annerley Football Club playing on his own and he didn’t look young. So I pulled up and I walked over to him and I said, ‘Hello mate, my name’s Paul.’ He said, ‘Hi, I’m Pete.’ I said, ‘Are you 35?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Can you play this afternoon at two o’clock?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ He’s playing right now. He’s paid his fees and he’s with us for the year and he scored our only goal in that game … If I’m desperate I’ll pull them off the street!” Paul says laughing.
Words by Leah Carri | Images by Gillian van Niekerk