Battle of the Boofheads

The ninth annual Battle of the Boofheads will be played this Saturday. A contest of the fit and the unfit. The old and the young. The good and the not so good.

It is a social footy match built around a brotherly rivalry. As the years go on it steadily builds momentum––and becomes less about the brothers and more about who the brothers can recruit.

My brother Greg and I grew up in hilly Greensborough. He’s always been five years older than me––except for the important 28 days in July when he is only four years older––so had a distinct advantage over me in any physical endeavours when we were younger. His record in our wrestlefests was commanding. I had never won until that magical day that I pinned him to the floor for a maiden victory. I promptly retired and explained to him that you’re “only as good as your last wrestlefest”. Football games on the court in front of our house were fierce. I often conscripted my mate Jimbo for some moral support. The bitumen surface was unforgiving so the speed of disposal was very important. Games were often close but somehow Greg always seemed to have a set shot on goal just before or after the siren. My later revelation that he was timekeeper as well as player easily explained this coincidence.

Back in 2003 I put it to my brother that we should run a social footy game where we pit our mates against each other. Two teams were formed: Greg’s Vipers and Ged’s Lions. The early days gave the AFL’s obsession with clash Guernseys a run for their money. The games were a contest between the “darks” and the “lights”. The application of these colours was quizzical at best. The hoops of Geelong were considered “lights” and the stripes of Collingwood were considered “darks”. Confusion reigned supreme and was compounded by the fact that most players didn’t personally know who all of their teammates were.

Yet the makings of a great tradition were there from the start. Mum insisted on providing the oranges at three quarter time and each year she appears with a big pot full of chopped up citrus sustenance. The oranges always remind me of my first ever game of junior football. I was so timid that the only reason Mum had to wash my jumper afterwards was because I’d dribbled orange onto the white “V” of my otherwise pristine jumper.

The coveted Boofheads’ Cup was struck just in time for the second game in 2004. In true suburban fashion it was purchased from a bloke running a trophy business out of his garage in Bundoora. It cost about $15 but immediately became priceless.

Medals were also introduced to the contest. The obvious ones are the Gary Ablett Medal (Mark of the Day) and the Peter Daicos Medal (Goal of the Day). Less traditional ones are the Wesley Snipes Medal (Biggest sniper), the Fozcat Medal (Biggest pretty boy) and the Terry Medal (Biggest tough guy). For a few years there was the Geoff Ablett Medal for the winner of the midnight sprint––run on the night of the game––up the steep incline of the court in front of Mum and Dad’s place. The court where my love of playing footy all began.

Then of course there’s the banner. Introduced by my Lions a few years ago, it helped me realise a lifelong ambition. I did manage 50 junior games––Mum was still rarely required to do more than a ceremonial wash of my jumper––but was only told about my milestone after I’d played my 52nd. It was too late by then. So now, the Thursday night before each Boofheads game is spent at my mate Elliot’s place carefully constructing an elaborate crepe paper monument. The slogan is hotly debated each year. Personal favourites have been the punchy “Ged’s Mates Do It Better”, the rallying “Lions Rule, Greg’s a Tool” and the unfounded “Vipers Wear Diapers”.

Another fairly recent addition to the pre-game festivities is the playing of the National Anthem. Craig Willis always seems to be busy on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend and the RAAF just wont return my calls, so we make-do with a CD playing out of someone’s car stereo. It was the brainchild of mine and Viper’s Vice Captain Chris “Buddha” Buttler. Coincidently we seem to be among the few who stand still and take the rendition seriously.

This Saturday another chapter will be written into the rich history of Boofheads Footy. There will be late inclusions, old bodies, twinged hammies, selection subterfuge, a faux injury for Greg, hungover players and plenty of laughs. It will be Battle of the Boofheads IX.

About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.


  1. Greg McMahon says:

    Go the Mighty Vipers!

  2. Sue McMahon says:

    Just as well you reminded me about the oranges! Bring it on!

  3. Nicolle Reading says:

    Ah, it brings back all the memories. looking forward to another one. See u tomoz

  4. Richard Naco says:

    I can’t figure how one would pin a diaper on a Viper, but I would be lion if I announced an intention to investigate it to any great depth.

    (Although I would assume that it’s still significantly easier – not to mention, safer – than burping one of the buggers.)

  5. Great story, I love these sort of neighbourhood traditions. A mate of mine developed a golf course in his street/Court, played through the front and back yards of three of his neighbour’s places. Each year they play off in the Manuka Court Open. (Chips and putts only)

    Re The Battle of the Boofheads (Boofhead has to be one of the three greatest words ever invented) do you still play on the asphalt or have you graduated to grass?

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