Football and music. Part I.



Tonight in Tassie, outside, the city streets were still with cold. Empty.

Inside, sitting in the warm seaweed sway of a noisy Friday night pub, I was watching the footy on a small monitor above the wine fridge, while the band, behind me, did their thing. The football looked strange. A pocket of comic-book green in a darkened, smoky wall of movement and noise. A bolthole into places other.

The band were young and good.

It all got me thinking of music and football.


I love Fridays. Watching the footy at the local tavern, I always squeeze Jolene by Dolly Parton on, between everybody else’s predictable end-of-week selections.

Watching a good Friday game reminds me of what I have to do. Attack with the aggression of Aaron Hammil. The music helping, being the seat that drives me to that head-space.

The locals and I talk and play pool, mostly at quarter and half time. Otherwise, I keep my eye on the telly, nodding, taking them in, but, really, letting what they’re saying pass through me.


Little Jonesy at our club is one of those polite, straight white boys who loves Bob Marley.

But before a game you can see him expressionless, listening to his thrash metal.

Box, the young club champion listens to anything Triple J, really. Every second player has earphones. None of them are tapping their feet, or singing along.

I think, their music calms them. Puts them in a zone, a place that saves nervous energy, before the strapping and warm-up and the gee-up suck them past that rim where the mind fucks with itself, and into a game’s motions.

I always dig playing something pushing and raw while driving to an oval. Eddy Current Suppression Ring, some 60s garage, The Exotics.

Things simple, with growl in them, that hug and mug the bends and curves as the ute winds through the rise and fall of the peeks and valleys.

These are the things I miss, and can never replicate, playing in the city.


It’s hard to explain. The absence of traffic lights are a part of the game experience.


One year, in the city, I was in a young team that had made the Elimination. Most of them had never played a final before. The rooms were like a wake before we’d begun. A soup of nerves. The coach had brought in a small boom box, which was playing a compilation of old football rev-up songs. But eighties keyboard rock dates worse than shoulder pads and Nikki Webster. None of the boys were fooled by it. We went out, in virtual silence, for a warm up kick.

The oval was lost in a rolling suburb that was lost in a sea of rolling suburbs, but all under a beaut sky. To me, that’s football. No matter where you play, when you run out you’re always under a beaut sky. You’re free. It’s that simple.

But the boys were all fumbles.

Back in the rooms, everybody sitting around, doing last minute things, waiting on the coach and the game like guillotines, I noticed Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’,  and turned it up full volume.

K.O., was a stoner with bong-filled eyes, who’s long, curly hair looked like its mullet had grown a mullet.

“Fuck, yeah…!” he lit up.

And we both head-banged and sang along, contorting to slowly arch up or down on the guitar slide.

The boys all laughed and one-by-one, stood and joined in. By the end of the song, there we were, twenty-something grown men, in footy gear, oiled down, boots on, minutes before a final, head-banging in a circle, bellowing:

   “Wannawholelottalove… Bbbbbrrrrrraaaaaawwwwww…!”

   “Wannawholelottalove… Bbbbbrrrrrraaaaaawwwwww…!”

When the song finished, we all laughed ourselves stupid and ran out and absolutely smashed it!


I am in love with Old Duff Radio. Every rural city has one. A community station that’s a home to everybody and anybody who slips through the cracks. Where Show Tune Tragics and Crooner Worshipping Biddies can find a home. Each show, different from the next, is no safe, commercial ‘a-bit-of-everything’. Each show is a thing of obsessions. A niche, driven by love.

Like the music or hate it, it is almost always true to itself, and worth it for that. To be able to step into other lives, other worlds.

I cut and delivered a load of wood early, and drove through town to play a bunch of thugs on the edge of the mountains, under and airport. Pulling in at the Uni roundabout to pick up the student, I barked:

“Get in, quick!”

“Wh…?” he stammered.


“But, but we’re not late…”

I yanked him in. The biddies were playing the Dukes of Hazard theme song.

There’s not much left of the poor old ute. I‘ve fairly bashed and filled it full of stories and killed it, but I tried to crank it one last time. See if I could get the tires spinning, as if it was the General Leigh, and the roundabout was Sheriff Roscoe.

We then entered the wrong side of town, where I picked up Darkie, fresh out of jail. In one block we saw a burnt out Adidas junkie lady, a pretty, nervous-looking woman in her lounge taking a photo of her smashed in front window, and a fifteen year old single mother waiting at a bus-stop with her child.

The song on the radio was something slow and winding and very, very country. Something that loved and bled and was just perfect.

For the ladies of Hurt Town.

Out the other side, the winding country music goddamn carried us, as if we were lazy kings, to the game. As if everything was timeless and Heaven and our bones and blood were unbreakable.

As we got out of the car, the student told me:

“I don’t think Darkie got it.”

“Not a chance,” I told him. “Fuck it. You can’t please everybody.”

One time, in the Bay, back when the top pub’s interior was all white tiles, like something you’d hose down, we were all crammed into the public bar, celebrating a good hard win, safe from bitter winter sea squalls. A top song came on the box.

Across the room, I saw my great mate Strawb see me notice it. He pointed one of his stumpy, strong, CHB’s fingers at me and gave a wry grin. I pointed my ruckman’s finger at him. He jigged. I jigged.

It was one of those easy, cruisy songs, the sort you can slide into. A chorus that was all vocal noises – wa-ha-ha-ho – no words to remember.

Perfect for bruises, dents and victory.

And the girl chatting Strawb up saw him digging it, so danced. Strawb joined her, doing his stupid, bum-out, pointer-fingers slowly poking at the air in front of him dance. He just didn’t give a damn what people thought. And the nurse talking to me saw them digging it and danced. And the players, seeing girls dancing, let their hair down and danced. And the fat, bearded fishermen, and the old salts and the farmers from down the Barham River Valley, and their little kids, and the ladies from the abalone factory, everybody sang, everybody – wa-ha-ha-ho! Everybody danced.

It was a win. A real win. Not four hours after our last win, that kicked off the night, and freed us from mortal worries.

We all cheered at the end of the song, and pushed right on into the next. Across the room, between grooving arms and smiles and chugging fat men and bopping, shifting heads, Strawb gave me a smug little nod, and the best ever, tiny wink.

A real CHB to ruckman thing. A mates thing.


I still think the world of him.


Now, it’s way late, near dawn. I’m home somehow. In the dark, neat bourbon in hand, on a mountain. My breath the only clouds between me and the moon.

I should light a fire, but I can’t be bothered.


I’m playing music loud.


It’s that time of year when I should let go of my obsessions a bit and simply love footy. In a few hours, tomorrow/this morning, there’ll be a smorgasbord of bush, city and coastal finals to choose from. Finals everywhere. Dreams being made and broken. We bowed out last week.

It doesn’t feel right not being a part of them.


  1. Matt, did they play this one?

    “She was the lovely little sheila won the Waddamana senior show girl
    she won a five dollar order at Fitzies to go and get her hair curled
    her name it was Lerline, she was the Waddamana beauty queen
    she thought it was the first step, she thought she might go on…….
    she thought she might win miss wooorld.”

    (Iconic Tassy central highlands swing ballard from the early seventies)

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Phantom. You have achieved something I thought almost impossible. You have found common ground between you and me: Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Rejoice. On the other hand, I will leave the Dolly Parton singalongs to you and Rick Kane.

    Great article. I look forward to the next installment.

  3. Andrew Fithall says:

    My mistake. And I thought this was your music Phantom. Matt – excellent article. Dolly is stilol yours..

  4. John Butler says:

    Nothing wrong with a bit of Dolly AF. :)

    Top stuff Matt.

  5. ‘Mullet-growing-mullets’, nice…. you aren’t a Tasmanian until you can appreciate such growths, which must make you a Tassie round about now!

    Shame the locals won’t think of you as one though until after another 30 years or so.

    And you’ll never be one to the fellas down at the Melton-Mowbray pub – one full set of teeth between every ten blokes, compulsory tank tops, even in winter, and a shoot now asks questions later frame-of-mind.

  6. Hi Matt

    I’m looking forward to reading and viewing/listening to your piece, which I should get to Thursday night.

    For now I’ll share with you my current music activity. I’m listening to Ry Cooders latest. First listen:: brilliant. I’m reading an oral history of The Replacements, one of the best punk rock bands of the 80s.
    And I’m off to see Gurrumul in concert tonight.


  7. Good topic Turbo…

    its funny how music always makes its way into the rooms… and the preference of pre-game music says a lot about different players… whether they need pumping-up or calming-down…

  8. Malby Dangles says:

    Epic Matt. Sad to hear your season has ended. I hope the Old Dog gets a game next year!

  9. Hey Turbo, nice one. I really enjoyed the read and the reveal once I followed the links… nice idea. I wish I coulda had some headphones pre-game when Snags was talking!

  10. Thanks everybody!
    AF, I love my punk and garage, no doubt, but I have wisened to include a bit of Dolly and the like over the years. I can now be angry and still love my ham! Eddy are the best band, and the best people. So are TOTAL CONTROL and UV RACE. You-tube them!
    Alex, you are not from the Otways until you’ve been buried at Moonlight Head Cemetery! Hard act to follow.
    Rick, loved the Replacements! Did they sing Television Addict? Or was that the Vandals? Made a great footy pump-up song.
    Spelled. Haha. I know who you are.

  11. Phantom! Lets have a few and sing it together! While watching footy at the pub!

  12. ‘Oh well they come from Tungateena and they come from Poatina
    but they all come from Maydeena for the Wayateena chop
    and the cop from Tarraleea he brewed 500 gallons of beer
    so we all drank a drop ,at the Wayateena chop

    There was a bloke they called the bruiser, he was bragging at the booza
    that he’d never been a loser at the Wayateena chop
    but when he went and jobbed the steward we couldn’t stop him being skewered
    because we’d all had too much fluid at the Wayateena chop.’

  13. Andrew Fithall says:

    How can it be Matt that the AFL (or whoever it was from their advertising agency who made the decision) can get You Am I’s Tim Rogers (he of Almanac fame – but has a reasonable profile outside the Almanac) to do the voiceover for their “Greatness” finals ads, but they have Meatloaf appear as th pre-game “entertainment” on Grand Final day?

  14. Probably because they have meat loafs running the league Andrew.

  15. Jared Newton says:

    I know its a joke, so much great Aussie talent and (no disrespect to the Loaf) we overlook it for yesterdays men in America. It’s funny how we bill the game as our own and can’t find a way to Americanise it quick enough. Gimme Hoodoo Gurus, Aussie Crawl, Screaming Jets, TISM, Hunters and Collectors, Trial Kennedy, Icehouse, Spiderbait, Whitlams, Something for Kate, SIA, Frenzel Rhomb, 28 Days… I think you get my drift. We’re duds whe it comes to the glitz and glamour anyway, just celebrate the game for why it’s so great.

  16. Bring back the Warumpi’s with ‘Blackfella Whitefella’.

    Great Australian rock anthem that would set the mood for a contemporary footy grand final.

  17. Try this one Turbo.

    Loud, politically incorrect and very singalongy after a few ales.

  18. Matt Zurbo says:

    Andrew, the others said it spot on. It’s so obvious and dumb. What a waste. Their idea is to make it an ‘occation’ by getting someone you can’t normally see. So why not an Aussie one-off, super group! Baansy, Rogers, Missy, all backed by… The Cosmic Psychos! Haha,

  19. Hi Matt

    This is either a great story or one I can really relate to (or both). Any way, I like it. Music is the soundtrack to our lives, as Pete Townsend or some one said. And you have captured the essence of the relationship, across multiple characters beautifully. By the time I got to Whole Lotta Love, I was craving a great song. And presto, you delivered. But wait, there’s more. The best surprise followed. Jimmy Roger’s singing ‘T For Texas’. That’s like wow, man. I know you’re telling the story but I’m in thrall of the story-telling.

    Here’s my favourite piece: The oval was lost in a rolling suburb that was lost in a sea of rolling suburbs, but all under a beaut sky. To me, that’s football. No matter where you play, when you run out you’re always under a beaut sky. You’re free. It’s that simple.

    And so, your finish with everybody dancing to Blind Melon’s, ‘No Rain’ is perfect. And still, there’s more. Early in the story, you play Sinnerman by Bob Marley. Certainly a great version. However, music snob that I am, I wonder why Bob, why not Nina. Of course, you’re a story teller. Stupid me. You end your music and football article beautifully for both you and the reader. We get to metaphorically enjoy a bourbon with you listening to what is one of the stellar songs of the last 100 years, Nina Simone singing Sinnerman, for you, for me for us all.

    And now a throwaway:

    I hate Thrash Metal. I don’t hate it, I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it! So I loved the Thrash Metal youtube clip, “The Best of Thrash Metal. I will lay down my prejudice and acknowledge that Thrash Metal is, at the very least, a broad church, to say the least. In fact the sub title of the clip is, ‘A tribute to the Gods of Metal’. So the best of, includes bands called, ‘Municipal Waste’, ‘Onslaught’, ‘Violator’, ‘Tankard’ (one chorus went, “I am the parasite of love”. That’s like Coldplay singing, “I’m the parasite of good pop”. Like d’oh.). Other best of Bands are called, ‘Sodom’ and ‘Metal Church’. As I said, Thrash Metal is a broad church, like the Liberal Party.

  20. Hi Matt

    This is The Replacements:

    You were thinking of a Perth punk band, The Victims with Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoos at the helm. They were a good band and that song is a beauty. But they aint no Replacements. Anyway, here’s the YouTube for Television Addict:


  21. Matt Zurbo says:

    Rick, yeah, thanks. I knew the Victims backstory, right down to the fact Dave used to call himself Dog Collar. Just couldn’t remember their name. Telly Addict was used well in Aussie film Idiot Box, but you prob already knew that.

    The Replacements sound a little like the Huxton Creepers, from the same era.

    Here is a corcker Sunday morning song of theirs.

    Phantom, I can’t access your link! It just asks me to sign up for something. Frustrating.

  22. Sister Zurbo says:

    This thread is fantastic and I don’t even like footy! Well I like the camaraderie of sport.
    I to go to a music festivals a lot, and marvel at watching tens of thousands of people there united sharing in the same moment, these people who would, most likely, not give a shit about each other in the street. There is only one other thing i can think of that does this.Yep. Football.
    So music and football? Win win.
    I will now put on my richmond scarf.

  23. Thank you sister z. You do your Dad proud.

Leave a Comment