@ajarrodkimber 15 minute read
An extract from Jarrod Kimber’s novella The Lillee of Campbellfield, including details on how to rob your own house using cricket equipment.
We didn’t live in Campbellfield; we lived in Epping. People would say to my grandmother, “Why does Peter live in Epping?” and she’d say, “Well, they like it out there”. Dad would correct her, every time, “Don’t tell people that. Epping was all we could afford; that’s why we live there.”
But Campbellfield had become our club before my dad moved to Epping, or I was even born, and it stayed that way. Most summers for the first 16 years of my life my dad would drive me there at least three times a week. There would be training, match day, and the cleaning day. I don’t remember much of the non-match-day drives, but I remember the match-day ones.
Dad would never say much, and he wasn’t someone who asked a lot of questions or started many conversations. I was usually too nervous to talk. I might have been an eight-year-old playing D grade Under-12 cricket, but my nerves thought it was a Test Match at the MCG. On some days my dad, as the team’s coach, would ask a question. With most people when I’m asked a question my mouth answers long before my brain works.
There was always something about the way dad asked me stuff, or my surprise that he did, that made me think before answering him. The questions were about tactics, batting orders, and fielding plans, and we talked more about that than most things in our life.
When I was caught shoplifting, on the eve of a game, as a father and son we handled it poorly. My dad couldn’t understand why I had stolen all this rubbish, and I couldn’t explain that the stuff wasn’t important, it was the feeling you got when you took it that made it exciting, and the fact you could then sell the stuff to other kids at school at making an industry. The next day we had a game; we went about it as we always did. Even the drive to the ground was standard, and we talked about the batting order. Our captain and coach relationship was stronger than our father-son one.
The drive to Campbellfield from our house involved a road called Cooper Street. There was no housing on either side, mostly waste-high brown weeds; it was like a road that would have been used in Mad Max, if not for the traffic. You passed not one, but two dumps on the way. You drove through factories, car wreckers, old mechanics, an Italian-Australian club, and some kind of mine. It was pure Australiana, the stuff that doesn’t get into John Williamson songs, and even the part that Paul Kelly’s Silver Top Taxis fly through unmentioned. There were Mack and Scania, rocks on the side of the road, blokes with overfilled trailers, but mostly it was empty.
Then we would hit Sydney Road, turn right for Craigieburn, or Sydney. We turned left, past the Ford Factory and eventually we made our way to Seth Raistrick Reserve. I never knew who Seth Raistrick was, and I’m not sure if anyone did.
Our club was the home of two things, the North Fawkner Football Club, which was famous for being perhaps the worst football club in Australia. And Campbellfield Cricket Club, which, for a time, was known as “Kimberfield”.
That club was a part of us. It was halfway between where my father and I grew up. I was, depending on which version of the story you hear, either one or two weeks old when I first visited.
When I was 13, I broke my finger trying to take a catch in a grand final. I ran off the ground to show it to my father; he asked someone to get some tape, then he taped my broken finger to a healthy one, and sent me straight back onto the field. I didn’t question it; the club was bigger than me, bigger than him, bigger than us. It was my job to get back out there.
When I wasn’t playing cricket, I was always on the verge of trouble.
A friend of mine told me about a plan he had to rob his own house, sell all his stuff to his friends, and then cash in when his parents’ insurance money came. I asked him about what plan he had for the actual robbery, how he was going to get into the house without the use of a key, and how he would stop his neighbours from seeing him breaking in.
Soon I wasn’t asking the questions; I was answering them.
My plan involved lookouts, people knocking on the doors of his neighbours at the same time, with synchronised watches, so that all the neighbours were at the front as he jumped over the back. It involved wearing cricket inners (plain white cotton gloves) to stop his friend from leaving fingerprints, a crowbar, back-up brick in towel that wasn’t needed, and three big cricket bags – because who would look twice at kids holding cricket bags. Then all was needed was a taxi booked for a few streets away at a particular time, booked by a phone from outside his house.
He was successful, and for my trouble, I got his CD player and some cash. I even grilled him about what the police had asked, so I could learn how to improve, and was disappointed that they were so lacklustre in their efforts. A lot of my work had been unnecessary, as once they found white fibres of the gloves near the jimmied door, they assumed it was professionals and that they’d never find them.
I had found my calling. I was a professional criminal, and other friends started asking me for the same advice. I did it a few times, and I even got better at it. I started sketching out my plans, and working out the best system, and also the best things to steal.
But I wasn’t cut out for it. I was perpetually shitting myself, and I didn’t trust my friends to follow my orders correctly, and I knew that if one of them was caught, they would spill. We weren’t hardened criminals. We were bored kids who wanted to buy cool stuff but our parents couldn’t afford it.
The only reason I had batting inners in the first place was because I’d seen a guy called Daryl make a hundred using them. Daryl played for Campbellfield.