By ROSS COUZENS of Inside Football
Roy Dore Reserve in Carrum had lain silent on winter Saturdays for 17 seasons.
It was anything but that last Saturday.
Carrum Patterson Lakes Football Club officially roared to life as a member of the Southern League’s division three competition by posting a 31-point win over Hallam in the seniors and a 17-point triumph in the reserves.
“It’s just something that everyone involved with the club can feel extremely proud about,” said club president Steve Barnes, a former director of the Southern League.
“The community’s absolutely ecstatic about it and they’ve got a senior footy club again and it’s up to them to grab the opportunity to see that it continues to be a sustainable club.”
The old Carrum Football Club folded in 1995 a year after winning a premiership in the Mornington Peninsula Nepean League.
From that point until now a void had existed in this particular local community’s sporting universe.
“As a (Southern League) director and living in the Carrum area I put the idea out about seeing who would be interested in starting up a senior football club,” Barnes said of the initial move to fill the gap 18 months ago.
“And the crew that got together from that and myself as the president, we’ve steered it."
“When it was first mooted (starting the club) people said ‘it won’t happen’ and all that, but the boys have done it."
“Talking from my governance times as a director of the SFL and having dealings with AFL Victoria and what have you, I’m just staggered that two senior footy grounds could be left vacant for so many years on a Saturday — and we’ve changed that.”
Barnes doesn’t know why the old Carrum went to the wall and hasn’t wasted much energy on trying to find out — he’s put all of that into making sure things are done right this time around.
“I wasn’t there then, I don’t know what went wrong … it all depends on who you talk to down at Carrum,” Barnes said.
“We’re more concerned about trying to do it right and one of the things that our model is based on is participation.
“None of our players are getting paid. They’re playing because they want to play for this local football club."
“We’re at a low base of entry. It’s third division Southern Football League,” he said.
“That’s the great thing about divisional football — from there we’ll find our level as a club.”
And according to Barnes the bulk of the playing group have been drawn from the surrounding community.
“They’re a contingent that came through the junior club, there was no senior club to aspire to, and they went and played with neighbouring clubs such as Seaford, Edithvale-Aspendale, Bonbeach, Chelsea and Chelsea Heights,” he said.
“But now they’ve got the chance to come home. Some of them are in that late-20s to 30 age bracket, others are mates of theirs who are a bit younger again.
“How often do you get asked to be part of something brand new and leave a legacy as having helped start up a football club?
“Living locally as young men, there’s every reason why they should continue to be involved with the club when their playing days are behind them.”
Barnes and his fellow club creators knew they needed special men to lead the on-field revival — and believe they got them.
“The first criteria (to be senior coach) was to be a ripping person and a real good bloke and we believe that is what Andrew Lucas is and that’s been shown with the response of the boys coming down (to the club) and getting on the track,” he said.
“John Hynes (who played a handful of games at Carlton) is his assistant coach and he’s got boys in the junior club."
“So they see the vision, they see the bigger picture about the (football) pathway that’s now available in this area — from Carrum Patterson Lakes Auskick to Carrum Patterson Lakes Junior Football Club and now to Carrum Patterson Lakes senior footy club, topped off with the Superules club.”
As well as the seniors and reserves sides, the Lions are also fielding a team in the under-19s — a crucial investment in the future that will help to ensure the club remains viable for years to come.
“It’s (making the club sustainable) a community challenge … the responsibility is to keep people participating in the game and you do that by having sides available,” Barnes said.
“And if that happens and you’re not bringing in guys that are there to get the dollar … the people that are here, well they’re playing here because it’s their footy club.
“Sustainability is a challenge whether you are a hundred years old or reinventing yourselves like we are.”