Country football is a dying giant of Australian folklore. Dozens of towns in western Victoria are struggling to preserve their sporting clubs, which, since the decline of the church, are standing as the last institutions between a community’s living identity, and history. All of the professional cliches about football are actually meaningful and true when applied to country football. “It’s more than a game,” for example. The football-netball clubs have become so central to the social fabric of these towns that to lose them is a risk to people’s general wellbeing. ....Close, a former president of Edenhope-Apsley, fears the broader implications of losing the club. These are areas of relative isolation, where suicide rates among people aged 15-25 are 50 per cent higher than in urban areas. “The role of sporting clubs has changed dramatically in the last 15 years,” he explained. "It used to be footy on Saturday and church on Sunday. The well established and the lower end of society might have a common faith and they’d all be accepted in and outside the church, but the churches don’t play that role anymore. The football clubs have assumed that role.” Country footy: Australian folklore's dying giant A culture is dying.