Geraldton soccer figure Stanger leaves tales of Brixton dub, Hunter S. Thompson encounter after move to Cairns

Headshot of Reuben Carder
Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Volker Stanger, centre back row with arm around his shoulder, with the Geraldton social soccer players.
Camera IconVolker Stanger, centre back row with arm around his shoulder, with the Geraldton social soccer players. Credit: Sunday Kickers/Supplied, Sunday Kickers

As Geraldton’s dedicated “Sunday Kickers” mark the summer off-season with social soccer kickabouts, the local version of the world game will be missing something.

Long-time soccer organiser and player Volker Stanger, 61, a popular and colourful figure, left Geraldton this year for a permanent move to the Eastern States.

Volker Stanger drove across the north of Australia in this panel van.
Camera IconVolker Stanger drove across the north of Australia in this panel van. Credit: Supplied

As a farewell to WA, Mr Stanger drove a Holden HQ 1974 panel van, which he’s owned since 1990 and spray-painted by hand, 5000km through flooded rivers, corrugations and wild cattle through the north and Northern Territory to Queensland. That was just the latest in a long line of adventures.

“I was on Woody Creek Road near Aspen,” Mr Stanger said, describing a time he hitchhiked through the United States and met perhaps the most famous sportswriter of all, the late Hunter S. Thompson, known for books like Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and On The Campaign Trail ‘72.

“I was 25 years old and had a job fixing fences for horses,” Mr Stanger said. “I had to ask for directions for a landscaping job for a lady down the road in Woody Creek (near Aspen, Colorado). That day I hitchhiked to work but had to walk the rest of the way. I didn’t know where the lady’s house was, so I asked for directions. I went to his (Thompson’s) house, but didn’t know it was his, and he came out in pyjamas. Hunter and I talked directions mostly. Later my friends told me it was Hunter.

“I knew he was a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, but I didn’t know he lived in a smallish house up in Woody Creek. Ernest Hemingway’s daughter also had a teepee up Woody Creek Road, but I only saw it.”

Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Mr Stanger is a true globetrotter. He represented his region in France as a youth player before setting out to experience working as a Vespa courier in London, where he gained a love of Brixton dub and reggae beats.

Mr Stanger has also travelled in PNG, Central America and NZ and worked in Indigenous communities in the Torres Strait, moving to Geraldton about 2014.

Popular in the local soccer scene during his time in Geraldton, he organised a popular social soccer competition on Sundays that has run for about six years, and played in the league.

Dozens of signatures covered a commemorative ball he was given on his departure by local player Tony Vu.

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