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North Bendigo Football Club has had the same timekeeper for more than 50 years

Francis Boyd has watched the clock for more than 2,000 North Bendigo Football games.  (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

On a Saturday morning in winter, Francis Boyd arrives at the North Bendigo Football Club bright and early.

It is North Bendigo's home game, which means he will be busy keeping an eye on the clock for back-to-back football games.

"I usually get up reasonably early and have my breakfast and everything packed the night before, ready to go," Mr Boyd said of his routine.

"Get up in the timekeeper's box about 10 o'clock and set up the time clocks, get the cards and fill them out."

He has his coffee just before 10am and brings a thermos of tea and biscuits into the timekeeper's box.

"It is a busy day. Not much of a break in between the games or half-time," he said.

Mr Boyd has been taking his role as the club's timekeeper seriously for 54 years.

Mr Boyd has never been late or lost concentration, when watching the clock.  (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert )

Punctuality runs in the family 

Before Mr Boyd took on the job, his father was the timekeeper.

"I just started to help him; the person who was helping him stopped doing it, so I started," he said.

His friend and North Bendigo Football Club Hall of Fame member Barry Martin remembers when Mr Boyd started.

"As long as I've been at the club, there's always been the Boyds," Mr Martin said.

"His father Ron was the timekeeper and Francis used to do the thirds, when his father did the firsts and seconds."

Francis' father Ron Boyd (left) was the timekeeper before him.  (Supplied: North Bendigo Football Club)

Mr Martin said Mr Boyd was so dedicated that his only break in recent memory was when he had COVID, "his only day off in 45 years".

When the U18s, reserve and senior teams play finals in a few weeks, the pressure will be on Mr Boyd.

"We've got a couple of battles on our times ... as long as Francis rings the siren at the right time, when we're in front, we'll be right," Mr Martin said jokingly.

Mr Boyd is described as "honest as the day is long" by club veterans.  (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

From a bell to a siren

In the North Bendigo Football Club clubrooms, an old bell is on display, as a nod to the club's timekeeper history. 

The bell from the 1950s is a testament to the club's 75-year history, during which it has had just two timekeepers, both of them Boyds.

The original timekeeper's bell.  (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

But Mr Boyd said how they watch the clock hadn't changed much at all.

"Before we used to have a wind-up clock, now it's just an electronic clock with batteries, that's the only difference," he said.

Club President Adam Kinder said volunteers like Mr Boyd keep the club going.

"Having volunteers — and essentially the one family  — do probably 70 of the 75 years of timekeeping ... it's what makes clubs go round."

"Without people like that, the clubs just don't survive."

My Boyd (second from left) being inducted into the club's Hall of Fame. (Supplied: North Bendigo Football Club)

Mr Boyd is one of a dozen local Hall of Fame members, some of whom have their own mobile bar which they set up in the same spot at the pavilion during home games.

"Volunteers are the core of the club," Mr Kinder said.

"They drive culture, they drive atmosphere, it's why people want to be part of the club."

"Without people willing to give up their time, community football does not exist."

The pandemic pause on community sport was tough for Mr Boyd.

Mr Boyd says he felt lost during lockdown, with no local football to go to.  (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert )

He missed his North Bendigo Football Club family.

"It was a big change," Mr Boyd said.

"I was a bit lost. All of a sudden out of routine, for the first time in 50 years."

And the key to being on time?

"Concentration. You have to concentrate."

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