Mid West Masters Football Carnival: Camaraderie, mateship and fun in life after league footy

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
Batavia Mariners players Matthew ‘Punky’ Brew, Warren ‘Blowy’ Blow, Rick ‘Smuggler’ Marianna, William ‘Billy-Moot’ Dalgety and Brad ‘Fluffy’ Fehlauer.
Camera IconBatavia Mariners players Matthew ‘Punky’ Brew, Warren ‘Blowy’ Blow, Rick ‘Smuggler’ Marianna, William ‘Billy-Moot’ Dalgety and Brad ‘Fluffy’ Fehlauer. Credit: Elise Van Aken Picture: Geraldton Guardian

More than footy brings these masters of the game out on the field every week, with their love of the sport giving them common ground to build a supportive brotherhood after their league-days.

This weekend, the Batavia Mariners will front up against the Northampton Rams, then the Geraldton Mighty Blues will take on the Dongara Eagles in the second Mid West Masters Football carnival of the year at GBSC Sports Park.

While the slightly modified over-35s game gives the men a chance to continue playing the game they loved in their younger years, it’s the camaraderie they enjoy with their teammates that keeps them coming back.

Mariners coach Warren Blow was open about the friendships formed, giving players an outlet to open up to each other about problems they may not otherwise be able to talk about.

“The big thing for us is Beyond Blue — we’ve all had dark days and it’s just good that the boys can pick up if someone’s had a bit of a down day and they’ll pull you aside and ask ‘what’s going on, mate?’” he said.

“No one pulls the p..., it’s just a good chat to get it out of your system and just knowing we’re there.

“We call each other brother, we’ve got all these brothers.”

This year will be Blow’s last leading the club, after he was selected to coach the Perth Masters team for the upcoming national carnival.

The 49-year-old has been with the Mariners for 16 years, which he said gave him a second lease on his football career after years off the field because of injury.

“I keep playing for the love of the game, I can’t get out of the system yet,” he said.

“It’s just played in really good spirit. No one’s out to kill each other and there’s no premiership points, so it’s just a bunch of old fellas running around and having a kick at a slower pace.

“I think it’s still as exciting as a league game. A lot of the guys might be a bit slower, but they still have a lot skill.”

Mariners players include GNFL 1992 JJ Clune medallist Rick Marianna and fellow ex-GNFL league players Matthew Brew and William Dalgety.

Dalgety, 65, has been with the club since it formed 18 years ago, after ending his league career with the Northampton Rams and Mullewa Saints.

“I played football all my life and this started up in 2003, so I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

“They’re all lovely, they’re my brothers, I call them brothers.”

The public is welcome to support the players at this weekend’s carnival, which will include family-friendly activities and thousands of dollars in silent auction items and raffle prizes from the Geraldton Buccaneers, Gemma Baker Jeweller, Seacat and Mitchell and Brown Retravision.

The Mariners and Rams bouncedown is at 1.45pm on Saturday, followed by kids’ competitions at 3pm and the Blues and Eagles game at 3.30pm.

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