BY SALLY JOHNSON (NEE BALL)
One of my early memories is standing with other band families on the outer stair case of the
I also remember the tune I most liked to hear them play was 76 trombones (The Music Man).
Dadís instrument wasnít my favourite, but it was impressive and the big BBb bass tuba along with dadís old brass
music stand would pretty well fill the old FB Holden boot. Music practice was confined to the garage where weighty
rumblings penetrated even double brick walls.
My dad, Alan Ball joined the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Band when it was revived in 1964, initially as a cornet player.
Led by conductor Merv Simpson the band was very successful, winning Victorian and Australian A grade championships,
as well as the ABC brass band competition. They were the first overseas band to be invited to attend the World Championships
at Royal Albert Hall, London. It should have been a great source of pride to have a dad who was a world class musician,
but at the time I was too young to appreciate the significance of these achievements.
I recall telling one young friend the concerts were OK, but not my type of music.
The fire brigade band was discontinued in 1971, however dad and a number of band members subsequently took up
Merv Simpsonís invitation to join him at the Footscray and Yarraville City Band.
(1975 winners, International Brass Band World Championships).
For most of his 31 yearsí service, dad was stationed at South Melbourne. In later years he transferred to Ivanhoe station,
which was closer to our home in West Heidelberg. I remember his uniform and old brass helmet, the annual
union picnics and Christmas day visits to the station when he was on duty. I remember how dad and mum worked as a team
and the shift work meant dad could help with shopping, housework and school drop-offs.
I remember the treats that dad would bring home from the South Melbourne market.
And it was always great at school when you were asked to talk about what your father did for work.
Dad retired in 1988. As a firefighterís wife for the past 34 years, I have continued to enjoy and
value my association with the fire services.
Sally Johnson (nee Ball)
The FSMV is very thankful to Sally for sharing this with us and allowing us to publish it.
We would encourage anyone and everyone to try something like this as everyone's memories contribute
to our collective history. So why not write up a few stories or memories and send them in to the museum
and we can publish them on your behalf !
Sally also provided some Concert Programme's from 1969 and 1971 displayed below.
Last Update: Wednesday 13th Oct 2021