The Cassidy Family
Barrie Cassidy is an elder statesman of Australian political journalism. He is a fine political analyst. He is also a massive Collingwood fan. He is not from a Collingwood family though. The Cassidys – six kids, who grew up in Chiltern during the 1950s – are a little different when it comes to families and their footy teams.
Barrie’s father Bill, a manager at the brickworks for most of his working life, barracked for Melbourne. His mother, Myra, barracked for Hawthorn.
The oldest child, Pam, went her own way. She loved Bobby Davis and the Cats colours so she barracked for Geelong.
Five Cassidy boys came along. The oldest, Ron, went with the strength. Geelong was one of the top teams when he was choosing a team, and his sister barracked for them, so he chose the Cats.
The Cassidy boys were rather competitive, so none was going to choose the team of another. Young Bill dabbled with St Kilda. He loved Carl Ditterich and so he wrote to him. When Big Carl wrote back the Saints had a new fan. Brian (Megsie) used his five-year old intellect. He looked at the teams names some were little suburbs but Melbourne was a huge city. Melbourne would therefore have access to the most players which would ensure their future success. Graham (Scrooge) was impressed by a Women’s Weekly photo of Hawthorn’s Graham Arthur which his mother had on the wall. He became a Hawk.
And Barrie? Each week the Cassidys cranked up the old Chevvie (literally) and headed into Wangaratta to do the shopping. One day in 1956 Barrie and Megsie, overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the big smoke, managed to get lost. They wound up outside the sports store in Murphy Street. A kindly man came out to see if he could help. It was Bob Rose. The much-loved Collingwood premiership player had moved to the country to be captain-coach of Wang Rovers, a decision which ensured the financial security of his young family. He was one of the great characters of Victorian life at the time. Barrie was a Pie for life.
Barrie’s son Adam is a Pie as well. But he is concerned for his grandson Quinn who attends a childcare centre not far from Kardinia Park in Geelong where he is bombarded with the influence of Cats fans on a daily basis.
Matt O’Connor and other rebels
I was once in the Epping line train going to the MCG to see Melbourne and Geelong and a bloke in his 60s – peroxided long hair, ear-rings and tatts – was opposite me. We got chatting and I could tell he had a hint of anger in him, but at the same time was friendly enough. I asked how he came to barrack for Melbourne.
“The old man was f##ken Collingwood, wasn’t he.”
Some have chosen their team as an act of rebellion.
Matt O’Connor is a genuine card-carrying Collingwood fan who has little time for Richmond, or those who jumped on the bandwagon in the late 60s and early 70s. Indeed, his Collingwood-ness has its origins in not-Richmond-ness.
In The Footy Almanac of 2007 he wrote:
“My Collingwood rivalry with Richmond started at Ripponlea Primary School in 1974, when my Grade 2 teacher asked us to stand up if we liked Elvis. I wasn’t entirely sure who Elvis was, and fancying myself as something of a rebel, I stayed in my seat when I realised that almost all of my classmates had leapt to their feet.
Next we were asked to declare our football alegiances. The Tigers had just gone back-to-back, so it was no surprise when the Elvis neophytes opted for Richmond en masse. The spotlight returned to me. I panicked and chose Collingwood.”