By Tom McNish
EASTER Saturday’s Inverloch vs Dalyston clash is one of the biggest rounds of the calendar season.
Years of tight competition have forged this rivalry of highest respect.
It was the year 1953, three years before the Melbourne Olympics and the introduction of television in Australia.
There were eight teams in the South Gippsland Football League: Kilcunda, Bass, Phillip Island, Dalyston, Loch, Inverloch, Wonthaggi Rovers and Wonthaggi Shop Keepers.
Dalyston was led by player-coach Noel Buckley and coming from a wooden spoon in ’52, good coaching and a bit of luck sent them to the top in ’53.
Playing against the then ‘new-comers’ Inverloch; Dalyston was three goals and four points down coming into the last quarter.
Sixteen-year-old Peter McRae had returned from boarding school that year and in his words he was “well-primed” to play with older brother Malc and cousins Don, Doug and Vince.
At three quarter time, Inverloch had scored seven goals and nine behinds, while Dalyston had four goals and five behinds.
Dalyston finished the game with a brilliant eight-goal last quarter to take the honours.
Recalling the game and how things went back in the early ‘50s is limited but with the well-maintained memory of Livio (Wazza) Coldebella and his long-time mate Peter ‘Pedro’ McRae; many stories live on.
“Back in those days we used to get changed in the ‘chooks shed’ we called it, bit of a multi-purpose farm building that served as grand stand,” recalls Wazza.
“They used to call Wazza ‘iron chest’ because whenever he took a chest mark it bounced off his chest and then he’d grab it out in front,” says Pedro.
“We were always the underdogs, coming against Inverloch was always a difficult game,” says Wazza.
“Inverloch were always on top, they were never to be taken lightly,” Pedro said.
“Back then not many blokes my age (19) had cars, but I’d worked in the Archies Creek Butter factory getting an adult’s wage and bought myself one.
“This was his insurance policy to getting a senior game,” says Pedro.
“We used to pick up Noel Buckley and then Laurie Grinham from the Caledonian, he’d have a couple of beers to lighten up before a match,” Wassa said.
“Back then Wassa was the entertainment, he’d play the squeeze box (piano accordion) all night once he had a couple of drinks,” recalls Pedro.
Although there aren’t many living who can recall the game from the Inverloch side, Jack Miller was at the game and recalls something a little peculiar following one such grand-final.
“I remember one year after an Inverloch Dalyston grand final Dalyston had one, I nicked the cup and hoisted it up the flag pole,” says Jack.
This was likely one of the first times the premiership was introduced, following a premiership ‘Hospital Shield’ that is visible in the Malc McCrae rooms to this day.