Footy icon debuts on screen

EMERGING TALENT: Damian Callinan and cast of The Merger, which premiers in Geelong on 6 September.

After playing “bugger all games at four clubs” over 20 years, Troy Carrington has become the star of a new football film premiering in Geelong.

The onstage creation of comedian Damian Callinan, Carrington has become lead character in The Merger, a tale of salvation at a small-town footy club.

Bodgy Creek has seen better days: the population is dwindling, jobs are scarce and litter has built up around the fading Tidy Town sign.

The next victim of the town’s decline is the cash-strapped Roosters Football Club.

Carrington, an organic winemaker, lives a hermit-like existence on the town’s fringe after breaking his leg running through a banner on grand final day.

Known as “town-killer” for leading “greenie” protests which closed a local timber mill, he forms an unlikely friendship with young Neil, who convinces him to coach.

The struggling club is at risk of a merger, or as actor and comedian Nick Cody tells Neil: “when one s**t team joins up with another s**t team to make a slightly less s**t team.”

But Carrington teams with Neil’s mum Angie (Kate Mulvany) to discover the club can “quadruple” its funding with government grants for employing refugees to rebuild its clubrooms.

Soon the club is teaching its new recruits how to play Aussie rules with often hilarious results.

The film features Logie-winning actors John Howard and Penny Cook.

The supporting cast for the film includes many settled refugees, some who spent years on Manus Island or were born on the boat to Australia.

Filmed in Wagga, The Merger comes to Village Cinemas Geelong on 6 September as part of Melbourne International Film Festival’s travelling showcase.


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