Pilgrims’ Progress

John Harms spent the day at the ‘Bool.



About John Harms

JTH is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere and The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story. He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo7, Anna5, Evie3. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Andrew Starkie says:

    Well done Harmsy. You’ve captured the Bool well. Well, for an outsider.

    Mum phoned last night, she and dad had a great day. Sunny and mild, she said. Bronny Lenehan from Nirranda, a family friend, won Best Hat. They bumped into so and so who I went to school with and said to say hello.

    Did you run into Col McKenna from Midfield Meats? ABC cameras were chasing him around on Tuesday going by the 7.30 Report. ABC have gone overboard; he should be congratulated not crucified for bringing jobs to the town.

    I went to school with a descendant of Whiskey Delaney, from Pomberneit, also called Whiskey. He left after yr9 to carry on the family business.

  2. Chris Bracher says:

    “this is better than the Melbourne Cup”, Jenny had said to me on the train.
    There was no argument…..
    Brilliantly put Jenny/John. Delightful in its simplicity.

    “Circumstantial unavailability” to attend this year did not stop me setting my phone alarm for 1.45 pm, which was just enough time to make the pilgrimage to the TAB at the Paradise pub in Clematis (frequented by “Cliff from Clematis”, off Coodabeens fame), to watch the great race. Even on the small screen the spectacle of that race is unique. Animal rights questions aside, the variables of jumps racing adds another dimension to the nags and the sense of history is palpable.
    I’m hoping for “circumstantial availability” next year and the 6.30 am from Spencer St might just be my mode of choice after your wonderful experience

  3. saint66 says:

    “I’ve been known to have a wager or two, he says”.
    Bloody hell, growing up in Ballarat, what with the brothers at St Pats (the old school), and the priests in training at the monastery, you couldn’t get into a tab on a Saturday. Some things never change.
    But agree, the Bool is a great day.

  4. Peter Hannan says:

    Well done, Harmsy.
    We had five in our team this year for the whole week of madness !
    Always a million stories from the Bool but yours make beautiful reading.
    And it sounds like it’s your shout too !

  5. Peter_B says:

    Putting Warrnambool, Waterhouses, punting and the priesthood together (a popular combination down that way) – I remember Robbie used a priest as one of the main commission agents sent to tracks around Australia to place the bets on the Fine Cotton sting.
    “Father make me pure – but not yet.”

  6. Smokie says:

    A great yarn Harmsy.

    “I think the jockey Noel Cole went on to be a boxing correspondent for The Truth.”
    I can just picture the bon vivant delivering that brilliant line.

  7. Peter Fuller says:

    I seem to recall Peter McKenna paying tribute to Fr. Kevin Mogg as his coach at West Heidelberg YCW, and instrumental in PMc’s development. Given McKenna’s superb career, and marvellous kicking accuracy, that’s a pretty solid wrap.
    Great story, we were there with you in spirit, and you have certainly inspired me (and others) to make every effort to front next year.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Racing folk how do you compare the bool to , Oakbank ? Sounds like a fun day

  9. Luke Reynolds says:

    Did anyone don the mustard at the ‘Bool this year?

    Andrew- will ask around Pomborneit about Whiskey Delaney. I’ve not heard of him.

  10. Sensational Harmsy. I must get to the Bool one day. Cracking story tling.

  11. Andrew Starkie says:

    Luke, I’m pretty sure he was from up your way, but having said that it’s a long way on bus each morning. I’ll ask around myself. I don’t think he’s been spotted by any of the boys since yr9.

  12. John

    A great read; felt as though I was on that carriage myself. Love the description of the priest reading from his form guide, surrounded by his devout flock of parishioners! So Catholic, I have visions of them breaking into song for the trip home…perhaps the 70’s version of the Our Father.


  13. Neil Anderson says:

    Andrew and Luke re the Whiskey Delaneys,
    I think as John said they came from the Boggy Creek (home of the Couch’s) and the Nirranda area. Just before you get to Nirranda on the Great Ocean Road, there is a sweeping bend known as Delaney’s Corner.
    Also the Timboon area was known for its illegal stills and there is a popular restaurant and distillery (legal) for tourists presently operating.
    My uncle who lived opposite the Nirranda Footy Ground told us some of the Delaney tales when we were kids. This was the same uncle who was punched by Paul Couch’s father Bill? when my uncle was goal-umpiring a match.

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