Melva’s magical fare

Melva Bonham with her world-famous licorice-all-sorts slice. 280903 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

If the old saying is correct…and the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…then Melva Bonham has sent many hearts a flutter in more than half of century of cooking for the Garfield Football Club.

Her luscious creamed scones, sensational sandwiches, and lavish licorice-all-sorts slice are now the stuff of legend, but far removed from the first dish she cooked for the club many years ago.

“My first initiation was at the local butcher shop, which was George Gooden at the time, and he handed me a kilo of minced steak and said, ‘Here you go love, you’ve got young kids playing football…make me a casserole,” Melva recalls.

“From then on I just started cooking for the club, and now I’ve been making afternoon teas for over 50 years.

“I just love doing it, but it’s coming to an end, I’m getting too old,” she says with a hearty chuckle.

Melva is a much-loved figure at Garfield and her life membership of the club, and nomination for an Australia Day Award in 2017 sums up perfectly the legacy she has created.

She was also been recognised as the Channel-31 Hero of the Week, where valuable volunteers also get the recognition they deserve.

Melva is a true Garfield local.

Her property borders the Garfield Recreation Reserve, and as well as cooking up a storm for the footy club has managed the Community Hall in Garfield as well.

She has cleaned that hall more times than she cares to remember and has also been the booking officer to boot.

But the big question is…Just how did she become such a good cook?

“I worked with my mother and father at home, never went out to work, and my first paid job was after I got married and had four kids,” she says with an extremely sharp mind.

“I cooked at home back then and have just loved cooking ever since.

“I’ve catered for the canteen and did Thursday night meals for a while as well.

“We won the flag in 1963, and I got more involved after that.

“We got a social club going, I made some great friends, and we’ve had some great times at the club over the years.”

Melva used to love watching the football, especially when her son Michael was playing seniors at Garfield and players like Murray Payne and Brendan Fawkner were stars of the competition.

“They were in the fourths when I started…I watched them grow up and I always considered them my boys,” she said.

“I used to barrack a bit, but not as much now.”

And it’s little wonder…because Melva still keeps a very busy schedule.

“Thursday and Friday I do the cooking, and Friday night I prepare everything for the sandwiches,” she said.

“On Saturday, I make the sandwiches at the rooms, cream the scones and just help out if there’s anything else that needs doing.”

And then of course is her licorice-all-sorts slice…the dish she has become famous for.

“There was a stage when I couldn’t get in the gate without it,” Melva says with a giggle.

“Everyone seems to love them, but I cook different slices, all types of sandwiches, just whatever I feel like cooking actually.”

Due to Covid, and having an ill husband for a while, Melva has had maybe three years away from the club over the last 60 years.

“I just love the people, love to see things happening…but it’s the people that draw me back mainly…they’ve all been wonderful at Garfield,” she said.

“I haven’t had a cross word with anyone in all my time here…It’s just a great club and a great community to be a part of.

“Everybody has been wonderful…I love them all.”

The energetic Melva, who loves the company of her great friend and fellow Garfield volunteer Wendy Errington, still has some very important responsibilities in life.

“I get the hall ready, prepare for functions, and I love my garden at home,” she said.

“And now that I’m getting old…I have a snooze every afternoon as well.”

But don’t snooze for too long Melva…there are still many more hearts that need a flutter!