WINNING a Calivil United premiership wearing No.42 on his back would mean everything to Bryce Curnow.
On Saturday Curnow gets that opportunity when he shapes as one of the key players for the Demons in their Loddon Valley league grand final against Bridgewater.
Curnow would dearly love for his dad, Owen, to be at Serpentine on Saturday watching his son striving to win a flag in the Demons’ No.42 guernsey that means so much to their family.
Sadly, Owen won’t be there.
After a four-year fight, Owen lost his battle with terminal kidney cancer aged 55 in April, three days after Bryce – who had been a co-coach at Strathfieldsaye last year – played his first game back at Calivil United.
“It was hard to leave Strathfieldsaye being the great club it is, but I wanted to go back to my local club knowing that Dad was progressively declining in his health,” Bryce said this week.
“I wanted him to be able to see me run out in his jumper and just enjoying my football. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it to the first game against Mitiamo and he passed away three days later.
“The main reason I went back out to Calivil was to be able to wear the No.42 jumper that Dad and Grandpa (Bill Curnow) wore for the club.
“It’s probably not the most desirable number to a lot of players, but it’s certainly really special to me, as is the club.”
One of the most treasured photos Bryce now has is one of he and Owen both proudly holding their treasured No.42 Calivil United jumpers two days before round one.
“I had just been handed my jumper on the Thursday night, so I said to Dad, how about you get your jumper out and we’ll get a picture together,” Bryce said.
“Dad passed away the following week and it’s amazing to have that picture together. It’s obviously really special now and sits in a frame next to my bed.”
Bryce will wear a black arm band on Saturday in memory of Owen, who despite his failing health was the chief organiser of the Demons’ 125th anniversary celebrations two years ago.
And like he has each Saturday since Owen died, Bryce will visit his Dad at the Bendigo Cemetery during the morning as part of his pre-game routine to talk footy, just like they used to regularly.
“It might sound a bit odd, but every Saturday morning I go to the cemetery and have a chat to him about footy,” Bryce said.
“I used to get home from work and all we’d talk about was footy. So it’s been a bit different not being able to do that any more, but that’s why I go to see him every Saturday morning.
“All that has happened this year obviously makes me want a win even more this weekend… if you can want a grand final any more.
“I’ll be thinking about Dad, that’s for sure.”
Bryce was happy to make a low-key arrival back at Calivil United, where he had previously played junior football.
He has been integral in the Demons taking the next step from preliminary finalists last year to playing in the grand final this season.
The 25-year-old is the competition’s leading goalkicker with 83.
“I haven’t played at full-forward every week. I’ve got up the ground, played a bit through the midfield and even a little bit in the backline at times,” Bryce said.
“Hopefully, I can put a few through the big sticks this Saturday.
“It’s obviously a massive opportunity for the club. There has been a great vibe around the club and it’s a chance to stop the Bridgewater juggernaut.
“But the big driving force for us is to be able to start our own dynasty.”