We’re talking “old farts footy”, peeps. Well, that’s what Paul Clark, the 50-something runner of 11 marathons and ex-triathlon junky calls it. Playing footy on the back line with the Peninsula Raiders AFL Masters is a pastime Paul loves – and, as you’ll see, his reasons for thumping foot to ball are more about the support he gets from his teammates who collectively refuse to stop kicking goals than the game – although he loves that too! Mornington Peninsula Magazine asks this Mount Martha resident a few questions about his life, work and addiction to the Aussie rules game of champions.
Tell us a bit about your experience with the Peninsula Raiders.
Well, it’s really about hanging out with a bunch of blokes who are over 55 that can’t stop playing footy. (The Peninsula Raiders also have an over 35-group and the oldest dudes are about 63.) It’s proper footy – we still get to play the full game and play hard. I crash into people and get hurt a lot. It’s great! A few of us in the over 55s just represented the state at the elite level at the 2017 AFL Masters Football Carnival in Geelong where we played three games over 10 days. Each state puts up a team in this national carnival which rotates to a different city each year. Let’s see, each state has 10 sides and there are seven states so there are thousands of people who come along. It’s exciting. We just missed out on the Over-55s flag. Still pretty good.
What does the training schedule look like for a team of over-55s?
We train once a week every week. That’s 50 weeks’ training for 10 games. Crazy, huh? But being part of the club is so much more than feeling fit and scrambling for the ball. We call it the Men’s Health Club and that includes men’s mental health. You know you can tell when a bloke turns up to training and he’s not feeling great. Maybe he’s broken up with his partner or work is getting him down. It’s a very supportive environment. It’s real role model stuff. Every guy brings his son, so the good stuff gets passed down.
And what about the ladies?
All partners are involved in the club too. It’s a family thing. We have loads of social functions throughout the year, a ladies’ day and most of the families that join the club are in for the long haul. The majority stay because we make them feel welcome.
What do you do with your time off the field?
I’m the creative director for creativesweat, my graphic design and creative solution business. I started in Richmond, then moved to Mount Eliza in 1985 and had an office in Main St, Mornington. We’re now in Mount Martha. We used to service a lot of government departments and big business, but the digital revolution almost killed graphic design. We now do a lot of interstate work with clients we never meet and a huge amount of business and corporate branding, logo design and visual identity (think Broo Premium Lager Australian Draft, Padua College and Mornington Racing to name a few). The world of graphic design has certainly changed since I graduated from Swinburne, but we continue to give birth to original ideas and concepts. I’m also a frequent winery visitor.
What do you love about living on the Mornington Peninsula?
What’s not to love? I mean, we live in a place where people come to holiday. I open my door and head on down to the beach over the rocks and there’s always things to do. Head to Balcombe Creek – but you’d better watch out not to get run over by a car - ha ha! I had an uncle who trained horses with Morning Star when I was a kid and my family (mum, dad and sister) had a holiday house in Dromana. We had boats. I’ve still got a boat.
And finally, any advice for other over-35s who are thinking it’s too late to pull up the socks and lace up the boots?
It’s never too late. Get fit, keep fit and hang out with mates. That’s all you’ve got to do. Just have some fun. Kick a goal or two.
Log on to creativesweat.com.au to view Paul’s work or peninsularaiders.com.au to find out more about the Peninsula Raiders AFL Masters.