STANDING in Golden Point Football Club's social rooms one day, Wayne Hankin was chatting away when he thought he was "seeing things". Before him were two big, old Point team photos but in one they wore hoops.
Golden Point's blue and white jumper had a red stripe - perhaps ironically what the club's modern blended form East Point wears now.
This was what Mr Hankin said was the start. Once he started delving into Golden Point history, he could not stop. There was the Imperials, there was South Ballarat.
Now scores of his detailed, handwritten journals about the Ballarat Football League are held by the Melbourne Cricket Club and among the most read items in its collection - of course, he has ensured he has a complete copy of everything for his own library.
Mr Hankin, a former BFL president, has followed country football in the region evolve with clubs coming and going. But only twice has the league stopped, each time during World Wars and each time a strong emphasis on keeping the juniors going, fit and strong, for they were the ones likely to be called up to war next.
The 76-year-old watches with great intrigue and concern to see how the unfolding coronavirus pandemic might impact the league he loves and all its communities.
"BFL is a great football league and has a great history of the football league. This is what helps (writing it down) to keep all that," Mr Hankin said. "Some of our clubs have looked after their histories better than most. The first thing I do when I go into a club is photograph as much as I can."
BFL has a great history of the football league. This is what helps (writing it down) to keep all that.Wayne Hankin
Ballarat Football League is one of the oldest football leagues in Australia, dating back to 1893 and pre-dating the Victorian Football League. In the early days, Mr Hankin said rule changes were shared between leagues with the VFL often adopting country modifications.
Mr Hankin keeps newspaper cuttings from The Courier from league stories that capture his interest most.
Often he will take a journey back into history, like looking over the time the BFL almost lost its name to become Ballarat and District Football League in a bid to better encompass Beaufort and Daylesford - this was lost on the chairman's deciding vote.
Mr Hankin said it was a shame to lose Geelong West, which won four consecutive flags in the 1950s, and its notorious star Lance Prior for whom half the crowd turned up purely to see what he might do unleash.
Mr Hankin step up on the BFL board in the late 1970s, taking on the role of junior vice-president and helping to write what was then called the football guide.
"At any time you would get about six thousand people at Eastern Oval for a game," Mr Hankin said. "Travel was costly and so people stuck to local footy and stuck to it in big numbers."
This made for big community football heroes.
(Bomber Wells) was the sort of bloke who would strip everything off to swim out and get the footy.Wayne Hankin
Four-time East Ballarat best-and-fairest Danny Roche was Mr Hankin's favourite player. A big call from a Point man.
Full-forward Tony Howlett and fast centre Peter Kiel were Mr Hankin's top Point footballers. Kiel was so talented he was recruited to St Kilda as a young teenager.
And there was Bill "Bomber" Wells, a showman up forward moving about the BFL. Mr Hankin remembers him as "the sort of bloke who would strip everything off to swim out and get the footy" when the ball splash into the lake near the Maryborough ground.
Mr Hankin he often imagines staff in the copy place in Peel Street almost shaking their heads every time he arrived with more notes to copy, all at his own cost. He said it was all worth it to keep such rich BFL history alive.
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