Wednesday, 3 October 2012

RIP Hammy McMeechan

I was sad to hear of the recent passing of 1960s Slavia and Croatia player Hammy McMeechan.

Now Hammy wasn't a South player (more on that later), but I got to meet him once when me and Ian Syson were doing research.

I think that at the time, Syson was writer in residence at the FFV, and I was helping do some interviews. They were fairly ramshackle affairs, interesting, but without a specific narrative emerging.

One of the interviews was with Hugh Murney, which we talked about here. What I neglected to mention at any point after that interview, is that this discussion lead to one of the more crucial moments in Syson's quest to find soccer hidden Australian history, as well as inspiring me in my studies over similar terrain.

The Game That Never Happened - the day Slavia played a charity soccer match against a VFL XI - would have remained forgotten had it not been for our interview with Meechan. Without this meeting and this story, our research efforts would have taken a substantially different course.

We met him at Forest Hill Chase, a shopping centre straight out out of Kath and Kim. We'd been waiting there for a while, at some generic coffee and cake outlet. Eventually this bandy legged old bloke turns up, and we have a wonderful chat lasting, according to Syson at least, for about two and half hours.

We talked about his career, about that game against the VFL players, about what he'd done since his playing retirement - he was still a keen coach of junior players even in his latter days.

I remember impressing him with my knowledge of now obscure Melbourne clubs and their lineages - for once that OzFootball database work came in handy in the real world.

We politely disagreed about the future. He saw something good on the horizon, a new era for the game, a logical continuation of his footballing life. I saw, and I suppose still primarily see, the end of an era, with only a marginal place in the future for me and my club. But he never accused me of selfishness for having that view.

It's a pity that we never got to meet again. His one major regret from his playing career? That he never got to play for South.

“Don’t get me wrong, Ian,” he warns. “I had a fabulous and successful time playing for Croatia and I made many life-long friends there. But what I always admired about Hellas was the crowd: its size, its passion and its noise. I would have loved to have played there every second week with that crowd behind me for at least a season or two.”

For more information on his career, see Roy Hay's obituary on Goal Weekly.

1 comment:

  1. Was shattered when I heard this. A true legend at Melbourne Croatia. RIP


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