A Hawthorn fan still suffering AFL finals withdrawal issues, I offer a few memories of the two footy teams in the 2016 Grand Final:
- Three thoughts on the Bulldogs [fragments]
THE SS Straithaird arrived in Melbourne on 16 August 1954 flying the yellow flag for disease due to passengers being infected with smallpox and cholera from crewmen joining the boat at Colombo. Many passengers had been quarantined in Fremantle and Adelaide and when arriving at Port Phillip Bay, 113 more were taken by launch to the Portsea Quarantine Station at the Heads. As inoculated passengers, including my family, stepped on to Station Pier and received their fumigated luggage from wharfies being paid danger money, little did they know that their arrival in Australia would virtually coincide with the Western (nee Footscray) Bulldogs’ first and only AFL Grand Final win [MCG, 25 Sept: Footscray 102 d Melbourne 51].
SEVEN years later I was enjoying my weekend job – selling The Herald (“Ee-erald”) and The Sporting Globe on Saturday evenings on the corner of Burwood Road and Power Street in West Hawthorn. The position was directly in line between the MCG – where the Hawthorn Hawks had just won their first ever AFL Premiership in their first ever Grand Final – and the HFC Social Club next to their inner-eastern suburban nest, Glenferrie Oval. Tired and emotional Hawks fans were buying newspapers from their cars and tipping heavily: leaving a zac (6d) for a fourpenny Herald and a bob (shilling) for the pink Globe. I made so much that night I bought myself my first ever small roast chicken from the new-fastfood window rotisserie in the nearby Milk Bar. Little did I know that the team the Hawks defeated, the Bulldogs, would not add to their second only Grand Final appearance … until 2016. [ MCG, 23 Sept: Hawthorn 91 d Footscray 51].
FIFTY-FIVE years later I will be watching the AFL Grand Final – featuring the Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans – with the Jakarta Bintangs Football Club and my old mate Ian Wollff, a long-time Doggies supporter who has lived in Indonesia probably since Gary Dempsey won the Brownlow in 1975. He fully knows what it’s like to live as an ethnic minority having grown up in Collingwood-dominated Hamilton, a two-dentist town in Victoria’s Western District. For him and history, I’ll be barracking for the Bulldogs. [MCG, 1 Oct].
One of The Heralds I may have sold on 25 Sept 1961:
- Once was a Prophet and Patron of the Sydney Swans
SYDNEY deserves to appear in the AFL Grand Final on Saturday. And good luck to them. I did have a very soft spot for the Swans from 1982 to 2012. In fact I foresaw their tumultuous move from South Melbourne to Sydney (“perhaps the South Sydney Swans?”) in the cover story for Nation Review – “Australian Football – Sydney or bust” – published on 14 June 1979.
Of this amazing insight, former Melbourne Demons footballer and latter-day Victoria University Ass Prof Bob Stewart generously footnoted in his 1983 book, The Australian Football Business, that I’d “accurately predict[ed] the interstate expansion of the VFL.”
But there’s more.
WHEN THE absolutely broke Swans moved to Sydney in 1982, their South Melbourne fans were shattered and players felt neglected. With a hostile media in Tinsel Town, no proper training or conditioning facilities or knowledgeable transition staff, some 35 footballers were left to make a statement on the field. Which they did by winning that year’s minor Escort Championships.
So it was, in 1982 and 1983, as the Swans’ games in Sydney were broadcast live to Melbourne and elsewhere, that I, a dedicated Hawthorn Hawks member, acquired a taste for the Swan’s gallant close wins on foreign soil in front of meagre crowds. I thought of playing my role in this critical expansion of the professional “Australian Game of Football” … doing something to boost the morale of the team.
Being the publisher of Australia’s then leading home video magazines, I approached Polygram Video – who were badly distributing a few videos for the VFL – with the idea of doing a tribute program. They rejected it so I went directly to the League’s President, Dr Allen Aylett, who gave me permission to make the program and produce videos solely for the Swans players.
Swans coach Rick Quade selected the best four last quarters his team had played at the SCG which he had recorded on 3/4-inch U-matic video tape. AAV in Melbourne duplicated the 2-hour program on VHS and packed them in a red velvet plastic jacket featuring the Swans’ official logo. All at my cost.
AT A LATE 1984 season club event in Sydney, probably after Rick Quade had been sacked for some sort in indiscretion, I was given the pleasure of explaining the tribute program and handing each player a copy.
Reportedly it was well received. So much so that Swans’ patron and LRB rock star, Glenn Shorrock asked if he could have a copy. I told him I couldn’t produce any more but — this was pretty secret at the time — he could get a transfer copy made in Sydney.
Please feel free to remind me of the names of all the beaut Swannie players appearing with me in the official photograph:
© Geoffrey Gold 2016