Alan ‘Ollie’ Matthews has been president of the Riddell District Football Netball League for 15 years, and was formerly mayor of the old Shire of Bulla. The grandfather speaks with Serena Seyfort about his love of the Macedon Ranges.
What’s your connection to the Macedon Ranges?
My wife and I have been in Monegeetta for about 17 years. Before that we were living in Craigieburn. Moving was a good tree-change.
How have you been involved in the local community?
I’ve mainly been involved through the Riddell District Football Netball League (RDFNL). I was also part of the league when I was in Craigieburn – I played 200-plus games with Craigieburn. I’ve been on the board of management of the RDFNL since 1995. I was president in 2002, and then became president again in 2004, continuing through to now.
I also hold the record for the Riddell umpires – I’ve umpired 1428 games. I started back in 1986 and I’m still umpiring. During the winter I goal umpire on Saturdays and I field umpire for the kids and the women’s football on Sundays. I was president of the umpires from 1998-2002.
I used to play cricket in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association, which covered the Macedon Ranges.
I was also a foundation member of the Craigieburn State Emergency Service, which had a lot to do with the Macedon Ranges. I spent a lot of time in the Macedon area during the Ash Wednesday fires, for example, as the first controller with Craigieburn SES. I spent a lot of time in Macedon as well through the CFA. I was a lieutenant with Craigieburn CFA, which was in the same region – Region 14 – as Macedon.
I was mayor of the Shire of Bulla, which is now Hume council, from 1998-99. I was on that council for 10 years.
What do you like about the Macedon Ranges?
It’s a great community to work in football-wise. You make a lot of friends and you meet a lot of people. When you’re walking down the street it’s good to have someone say ‘G’day, how are you?’ I work a couple days a week at two hospitals as their safety manager, in Mitcham and Hawthorn, so it’s a bit of commuting. People say, ‘why do you travel so far?’ but when you get out and get the fresh air and the bush life and see kangaroos on the way home, you fully understand.
Do you have a favourite local place?
In my area, the two things I like are Cross Sawmill, the local hardware store. I tend to frequent there quite regularly. The other place is Monegeetta General Store.
If you could change anything about the area, what would it be?
Probably the main roads in our area. The road is paved most of the way, but it’s only single lane.
Near our property it’s a dirt road, so a lot of dust comes up – but that’s only a small disadvantage when you’re living in the country.
What’s something unusual about you?
My first name is Alan, but most people know me as Ollie – it’s been my nickname since primary school. Even when I was mayor of Bulla, I was introduced to the Prime Minister as Ollie Matthews.