A UNIQUE end-of-season trip took place recently with participants from various Australian states ranging in age from men in their 20s to octogenarians.
It was the annual Monkey, Rat and Missing Pals Tour held in Moama during Victoria Derby weekend and this year it attracted a record number of attendees, 98 in all.
The event’s origins date back more than three decades and it originally was an end-of-season getaway for members and supporters of Langwarrin soccer club.
Former Langwarrin assistant coach Neil Collyer took on the task of event organiser 13 years ago and gave the trip a makeover that has seen participant numbers surge.
“The Monkey relates to the late Steve Wallace and the Rat was the late Matt Kennedy,” Collyer said.
“It had been going for about 20 years when I took over running it and when I first started we had 32 going.
“It was basically a lot of the old boys at Langwarrin but I decided to change it to add the Missing Pals bit and I said to people it’s not just about them but also their friends and relatives.”
It’s a three-day affair that starts on a Thursday, features competitive bowls and golf tournaments the following day with separate trophies for the winners then Derby Day on the Saturday is all about punting.
“We stay at Meninya Palms which holds 110 and I’ve already booked out the whole hotel for next year,” Collyer added.
“Over the years we’ve managed to go to the same places so we’re well known at the venues.
“The Border Inn gives us our own room for our meals on Thursday night, on the Friday the golf is at Rich River and the bowls at Moama Bowls Club and the motel gives us the conference room for the trophies presentation that night.
“At the RSL we have our own separate room with big screens and TAB machines so we’re well looked after.
“I think everyone at these venues respects the fact that not once has there ever been any trouble and they welcome us back each and every year.”
Not even floods could stop last year’s tour and local businesses always contact Collyer mid-year to confirm that the tour is going ahead.
This year attendees paid $380 each which covered accommodation, show bags and activities and included in the deal were embroidered polos and caps, free entry to a raffle for a range of donated prizes with $1000 given to the RSL for drinks money and $25 for a meal.
There also were bottles of wine given away to those over the age of 80 and the Border Inn provided discounted drinks for anyone in the group who patronised the venue during the three-day trip.
“Since we renamed the tour and added the Missing Pals component we’ve had people from other clubs join in and we had five interstaters this year including people from Queensland,” Collyer said.
“We had 86 attend last year and we actually had 101 this year but three couldn’t make it.
“I don’t know many other clubs in Australia that have those sort of numbers for an end-of-season trip.
“A lot of the first timers said how much they enjoyed it and they want to come back next year.”
In State 4 news Chelsea has called for expressions of interest from players keen to try out for the club’s senior and reserves squads for 2024.
The Edithvale-based club recently appointed former Scottish professional, A-League and NPL coach Stuart Munro as technical director and last month hired local coaching legend Gus Macleod as senior coach.
Interested players should contact Macleod on 0402 122 077.
Chelsea currently does not have use of Edithvale Recreation Reserve but is keen to organise practice matches at away venues.
Newly promoted State 4 side Mentone held its presentation night at The Dingley Hotel last weekend.
Tyler Pollard won the Player of the Year award, Marcus Spivey was Players’ Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner while Frankie Varsamis was Young Player of the Year.
It was the fifth time Spivey has topped the scoring charts at Mentone and the big striker has attracted interest from other clubs.
Seaford United had been in contact with Spivey during last season but Mentone coach Jason Grieve is confident that his star forward won’t be moving.
“Teams have been approaching ‘Spiv’ for the past few years,” Grieve said.
“If he wanted to earn some coin he would have left before now.
“While you can’t be 100 per cent sure about returning players we didn’t lose anyone last year and I’m confident about retaining players this year.”
In State 5 news Mount Martha’s hunt for a head coach to replace the departed Mark Larner continues.
Last week the local club was contacted by a coaching duo with recent NPL experience but nothing came of their discussion.
On the playing front star striker Ethan Sanderson won’t play with Mount Martha next season and may not pull on a Mariners’ strip again.
He broke his collarbone in the first half of last season’s round 20 fixture against Mentone at Mentone Playing Fields.
Sanderson was taken to hospital and had corrective surgery two days later and his surgeon likened the severity of his injury to that of a car crash victim.
He currently has 10 pins inserted and they will be removed after nine months before he can participate in any contact training sessions.
A further three months of recovery are involved so he expects to be available to play for just the final two games of next season.