IN a season where the Upper Murray has gone from crisis to crisis, 62-year-old Corryong footballer Peter 'Bert Einstein' Shaw has provided some welcome relief. The Border Mail's BRETT KOHLHAGEN caught up with the easy-going Demon this week.
BK: Firstly before we start, do you prefer being called Peter, 'Shawry' or Bert Einstein?
PS: 'Shawry', that's just who I am around here.
BK: Where did the nickname Bert Einstein originate?
PS: On a Facebook page called Mad Monday which is about boys behaving badly. Someone sent some photos in of me and another bloke with our noses taped up after we had been snotted. Then someone wrote a funny comment and called me Bert Einstein and it went from there.
BK: You don't mind it?
PS: It's a bit tiresome but that's OK (laughs).
BK: You are 62 years old and have in many ways been the face of the Upper Murray league this season. Have you been surprised by all the attention?
PS: Yes, I'd say it's under false pretenses because I'm not much chop as a footballer that's for sure.
BK: You have done a few interviews since The Border Mail first put you up in lights in May haven't you? Tell us about some of them.
PS: I was on ABC Radio a couple of times, Coodabeen Champions was pretty funny. The AFL sent a media unit here to make a film. I thought it was going to be about the Upper Murray league and Corryong but it ended up basically being about me and I didn't even play on the day because I had crook knees. The good thing was that the interviewer played for us and won us the game. We wouldn't have won the game against Federal if he hadn't played.
BK: It must make you pretty proud when people say; 'Shawry's a ripper still playing, helping Corrryong out when it needs the numbers'
PS: I don't do anything except for playing footy. A lot of people do a lot more than me. I just enjoy playing.
BK: Are you getting cranky in your old age?
PS: No, I've only ever punched one bloke and that was in the amateurs in Melbourne in 1986. He punched me in the back of the head as we were going to the ground and I let him have one on the way down.
BK: I'm tipping you would have seen a few punches in the Upper Murray over the years?
PS: I was like a piece of meat on the butcher's chopping block when I was 15 or 16. We all were. Cudgewa were the mortal enemy and they used to slice and dice.
BK: I was speaking to Bullioh star Hamish Clark earlier in the week and he mentioned you played on him during the home and away series. What were your tactics that day?
PS: When he lined up on me in the back pocket I thought this is going to be fun. Except he decided he was going to run forward and kick goals and I ended up chasing him around for a quarter. He laughed a lot as it wasn't a great match-up.
BK: What's the funniest thing anyone has said to you on the ground?
PS: The best one was from a Bullioh bloke called Pete Paton about 12 years ago. He side-stepped me twice and I said this isn't going to happen again so I managed to chase him and chase him and chase him before I cornered him in a pocket when the ball went out of bounds. I said: 'Ha, I've got you' and he replied: 'No, you haven't you silly old Teletubby. I didn't have a clue what a Teletubby was and didn't for ages. Years later when my Mum had Alzheimer's I ended up having a cup of tea with her every morning while she watched the Teletubbies. She loved the Teletubbies and that's when I learnt what they were.
BK: You wear number 66 on your back. Any significance there?
PS: Aaah yes, that was the only jumper that fitted me on the day when they were handing them out. I've always chased 13 because my birthday is on August 13 but I've never worn it.
BK: What was the most possessions you racked up in a game this season?
PS: Do you class shepherds as possessions? I think I got a couple of handballs and a kick. I've done a lot of directing traffic.
BK: How sore do you pull-up on a Sunday?
PS: I roll off the bed onto the floor and crawl to the shower and turn it on. Then about 20 minutes later I stand up.
BK: Like a beer?
PS: I do. I don't like being really pissed but I enjoy a beer.
BK: You played for Corryong and Federal a couple of times during your career. How did that come about?
PS: I first swapped over because I wasn't getting much of a run from the Corryong coach in the seconds. He set me up one day. He told me to rough up one of Cudgewa's young blokes. I said you have got to be joking but I then I thought I'd never done that before so I gave it a try.
BK: What happened?
PS: The kid was doing up his shoe lacesand I went over and knocked him over. Then it was on for the rest of the quarter. I ended up fighting the entire Cudgewa backline. Corryong kicked eight or nine goals for the quarter while I kept them busy. I came off with eggs on my head and a slightly bloodied nose. That was a quarter to remember. Then I thought, hang on a minute, I've been done here by the coach, so I cracked it and went to Federal. I was used (laughs).
BK: What do you make of the rivalry between Corryong and Federal?
PS: General silliness because I've never seen it that way. Some of my best mates at school were Federal blokes. It's been one of the impediments from stopping mergers in the past.
BK: Who are the best players you've seen in the league?
PS: It depends on positions and things like that, but in terms of doing everything Kevin Mack Senior and Evan Nicholas were fantastic. They were matchwinners who understood football inside out. Maurie Tyrell was a gun as well for Feds.
BK: Any memories of Ray Mack as a kid?
PS: I just remember how game he was playing seconds as a 12-year-old. When he was 14 he played seniors and I remember Benny Byatt tried to take his head off once. If he turned inside instead of towards the boundary he would have been dead.
BK: You were a pretty handy footballer in your prime according to the locals around here. How would you describe yourself as a player?
PS: Stupidly brave when I was young, but not any more though. I used to think about footy a lot and always thought you could win no matter what the score was.
BK: Getting away from football for a minute, you are clearly a smart man. Your professional career started at Swinburne University when you studied graphic design. Tell us about how that came about?
PS: I was away for 30 years so between being a designer in Melbourne and travelling away I've been away for a long time. I came back 12 years ago to look after my mother. It's been constant since then.
BK: How many photographic and painting exhibitions have you done?
PS: I spent 12 months in 1987-88 travelling in South America so I had a show after that. I've just had various other shows over the years and painting exhibitions.
BK: It sounds like a real passion of yours?
PS: It has been but the wheels have fallen off the cart a bit.
BK: What are your first memories of playing?
PS: I got my first footy at five. Dad came home with one but there was no competition until I was 12. We played a few school games or kicked the ball for two or three hours on the main road under the street lights.
BK: You must have been happy when you turned 12?
PS: I was and we won the first premiership. It wasn't recorded though which was pretty disappointing. That was my only premiership. We got cake and a soft drink. It was played at the Tintaldra Rec Reserve in 1970.
BK: How many games have you played?
PS: I tried to figure it out once but probably between 480 and 550.
BK: What about the highlight?
PS: I was playing for Powelltown in the Yarra Valley Mountain District League and we were the chopping block of the competition in the seconds. We were losing by 14 to 20-plus goals each week. One day we came up against the top side and kicked five goals in the first quarter on a rainy day and they never caught us. It was most enthusiastic song singing I've ever seen.
BK: Did league officials make the right decision to continue next season in preference to a merger between clubs?
PS: I think we should merge and go but I thought the time frame was too short this year. Maybe they have done the right thing. Long term I can't see how we will stay viable. It's purely a numbers game. If there was one purely local district side I think we could get firsts and seconds and I think we could find ways to get junior sides. People always look at the problems instead of just making a decision and then figuring out a way to do it.
BK: What's been the best change you have seen in the Upper Murray in your time?
PS: The send-off rule has been fantastic. It's taken the outright thuggery and head-hunting out of it. The entire backline at Cudgewa were just thugs when I started, but they had a really good and talented forward-line.
BK: Would you like to see any other changes?
PS: I want to get rid of all sponsors logos from our uniforms. I want them plain, I want them like jockeys' silks. I think it's heraldic, I think it's more graphic and we are not on television.
BK: Who wins on Saturday, Cudgewa or Bullioh?
PS: Toss a coin. Whoever is slightly more determined and gets a bit of luck.
BK: Next year will be your 50th year of footy. Can you get there?
PS: Only if they are kind enough to give me a game which probably isn't going to happen with no reserve grade competition. It will probably also depend on whether I'm able to walk by then as well.
BK: Thanks 'Shawry'.