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All VAFA supporters have been given a great opportunity to advance purchase the wonderful book Footy Town. Footy Town is a collection of stories from the local footy, stories that we all know and love that have been carefully chosen from over 50 authors around Australia and put together in this wonderful book by Paul Daffey and John Harms. 
Over the course of the next few weeks we will be publishing extracts from various stories to provide a flavour of what the book offers. It is a wonderful gift idea and you can purchase your copy through the VAFA Online Store. 
Darling Hearts
by Damian Callinan
In the late 1980s, the Darling Downs Institute Football Club in Toowoomba was presided over by the delightfully eccentric Dave Hacker, a forty-year-old primary school teacher who lived with his mum. Hack wore the same home-knitted jumper around the club every day. It was threadbare and smelt like a wet koala. We all chipped in and bought him another jumper for his birthday, which he thanked us for but diligently refused to wear.
The first game I can remember was against Souths out at Cabarlah. Without exaggeration, the field looked like it had been used as an artillery range. As the twos ran around tripping over spent cartridges and disappearing down fox holes, Feltham made all the firsts line up along the hill that overlooked the ground and every available hand set about the task of strapping forty ankles.
The ground was rock hard and wore its few tufts of grass like an alopecia sufferer who is past caring. Falling over resulted in abrasions usually associated with motorcycle accidents, so we took a while to adjust. The fearless Souths boys wore skin that had been transformed into callouses over the pre-season – a considerable advantage. But we ran over the top of them, convincingly, in the second half as we got a handle on the topography, using the trenches to sneak a loose man forward on occasions.
Perversely, I rolled my ankle the following week on the comparatively lush expanse of the Baker Street Oval, our home ground. The next week, I was given until the last minute to prove my fitness for the match against Goondiwindi- Moonee. As we unravelled from the bus after the three-hour trip I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to see a few cows grazing at the western end. Any chance of me playing through the pain was stifled after inspecting the field. It made Souths look like the lawns of Versailles. Coach Paul Feltham shook his head, the boys got changed, and I went to the bar with the rest of the rehab group.
We scored a comfortable win against an under-manned Goondiwindi- Moonee, whose ranks had been decimated by the winter harvest.
Having had a headstart on the others, I required the first pit-stop on the drive back. Inevitably, as I went to climb back on board, the bus took off. Anaesthetised by my day’s takings, I ignored my dodgy ankle and took off after the bus. It kept just out of my reach for just long enough for it to be funny again.

To read more of this story and other great stories from Footy Town then head to the VAFA Store by clicking here to order your copy.