Bob has the score on the board

Bob Smart has kept the scoreboard ticking over at Pakenham for the last 19 years. 243756

By David Nagel

Community sporting clubs mean so many different things to so many different people but it’s hard to imagine a club meaning more to someone than Pakenham life member Bob Smart.

It was 23 years ago when Smart decided to come down to Pakenham to watch some football, to take his mind off things after the recent death of his daughter Debbie.

It began a long association with the club that still holds strong today.

You get the feeling that the Pakenham Football Club and Bob Smart need each other in equal doses…they’re really important to each other.

Smart has been the timekeeper at Pakenham for roughly 19 years. He’s up early in the morning to make sure the opening bounce takes place in the under 19s, and he’s still there to blow the last important siren in the seniors.

And on Sunday Smart was at it again, leaving home to do the timekeeping for the Pakenham women’s team against Mt Evelyn.

By just doing his job Smart has created legends, and broken hearts, with one simple push of a button.

You can’t have a winning kick after the siren, or a miss, without a siren, and Bob’s the man that makes it happen.

He is Mr Reliable in every sense of the word.

“That’s what I pride myself on, my reliability, I’ve missed one game in all that time and that was because I was sick.” Smart explains.

Understandably, the impact of his daughter’s death is still strong today. This requires Bob to be home most of the time to be by his wife’s side, with Saturday at the football his weekly release.

“I love coming to the football club,” Smart said.

“It gives me something positive to think about instead of thinking about other things, which you learn to live with it…but it is hard.

“I’ve been with this club through three leagues now (MPNFL, South East, Outer East) and you meet fantastic people and I haven’t got a bad word to say about anyone at this club.

“Everything has gone really well from my point of view, it’s suited my needs and I think it has suited the club’s as well.

“I supposed I’ve been very reliable for the football club; they know I’m here to do the job and it will get done every time. It’s a terrific club with terrific people and I love being a part of it.”

A Saturday at the football has changed for Smart in recent times.

Pakenham has just had a new electronic scoreboard installed, while renovations to the clubrooms have meant that Bob now has to operate his new pride and joy from the tight confines of a portable.

It’s a far cry from Smart’s set up in the old Pakenham scoreboard.

“I had everything in there,” Smart said with a smile.

“I had a heater, kettle, tea and coffee, which was great for the opposition timekeeper because they didn’t have to walk anywhere to get a drink.

“When the new rooms are built, I look forward to seeing what they’ve got for me.

“Cranbourne used to put us in a tin shed at the old racecourse, some set ups are a lot more elaborate than others.”

Smart, a keen baseball player in his younger days who never really played football, gets emotional in a flash when he talks about his elevation to life membership at Pakenham.

It’s something that means the world to him.

“With what has happened to our family I get emotional quite easily, but that was a really special thing to happen to me,” he said.

“It meant everything to me and I got very teary and tongue-tied. I tried to make a speech but I buggered it up because I was too emotional.”

Bob pushed the final siren on Pakenham’s most recent senior premiership success in 2009 and he remembers those days well. Some of his favourite players played through that generation.

“Dan O’Loughlin and Jock Holland were two players that I really enjoyed watching, but all of that side was terrific,” he said.

“It’s just been great to be involved. Things are always in the back of my mind but I’m quite happy to sit here and help out where I can.

“I really do love the club and the people involved in it.”

Community sporting clubs mean so many different things to so many different people but it’s hard to imagine a club meaning more to someone than Pakenham life member Bob Smart.