Today me and Ian Syson went out to Morwell to meet up with former Morwell Falcons president Don Di Fabrizio, to gather as much information on his life in soccer as he could provide. I'd never been to Morwell before, not even for a game back in the NSL days - my dad and uncle considered me too young for the elimination final 1st leg we played there back in 1994/95, and later on my cousin would seldom take me to South games, let alone all the way to Morwell. He's a Victory fan now by the way, just another ex-South fan to add to the list.
Anyway, I find pretty much consider anything outside the western suburbs, and to a certain extent the inner north, as a separate territory, something alien and disorienting. With country towns, that feeling is magnified. I found Canberra dead, thought Geelong akin to what people say Adelaide is like, and the rest of the country towns and hamlets along Victoria's west coast or through the middle of in particular New South Wales on the way to the Gold Coast I stopped in for a few minutes or a couple of hours - well I probably didn't stay there long enough to make any worthwhile comment on anything other then the quality of their service station or McDonalds.
So what's Morwell like. Well there's hills surrounding the place, some burnt out from the bushfires, and the remains of the open cut mines. There's a row of shops on Commercial Road,l some helpful locals, and one bloke who didn't bother taking a step around me and walked straight into me on the footpath... and kept walking. Don Di Fabrizio arrives in his four wheel drive, and perhaps scuttling our initial plans of having a sit down and talk, he decides to give us a bit of background on the Falcons and his own story. Don is a bit of a talker - it's difficult to get a couple of words in at the best of times - but there's a lot to talk about of course, both from his soccer and personal/work life.
So we end up driving to the site where he and a hell of a lot of other migrant workers camped in barracks, paid for by the company, and take a look at the deep depression in the ground where the coal was mined. We then took a tour around all the places that Morwell used in their gradual ascent to the NSL, and there were a heap of them. Eventually we ended up at Falcons Park, where Falcons 2000 president Tony Salvatore let us in to check out the facilities... impressive to say the least. A huge kitchen the Valkanis family would kill for, a large hall apparently catering for up to 500 people, four grounds, the lovely stand named after Don, even a soccer jersey shop tucked away in there. Was slightly amusing to see the first buildings they used as their gathering space though, two old buildings bought during the moving of the Yallourn population.
Lunch was great, but as my dad says, when you're hungry even rocks taste good (Greek saying which doesn't necessarily have the same ring to it in English). The trophy cabinets looked a little too filled up with junior trophies... but there was at least one of their two state league cups visible, and their Dockerty Cup was out getting touched up... not sure where our Dockerty Cups are, or our State Championship pennants and trophies. I posed some questions to Tony about what Falcons 2000 goals were after the Morwell/Eastern Pride group disintegrated... his answer seemed well thought out and bloody sensible... sort out your entire operation from head to toe, and when that happens, only then could you even consider the next steps... which for them would be going back into the metro competition, something they haven't considered yet and are unlikely to for the foreseeable future. Lessons here for a certain VPL club? Perhaps.