The Frog and The Footy

Ordering rissoles in Bali is a sign that I need to go home to Adelaide.

It’s a Friday night, and I’m in Barb’s sports bar for the Crows season opener. With an Adelaide Crow tattoo on his arm, mine host Ian ambles by as the club song choruses from the TV. He mutters, “It’s got a good beat, but I reckon the kids won’t dance to it.” He’ll say that another twenty-one times before September. There’s a galaxy of Indonesian dishes on offer, but I inhale a plate of meaty patties, chips and veggies. The footy is streamed from Channel 7 in Perth and, frosty long necks of Bintan aside, when I find myself getting misty-eyed about the Bunnings ads, I know the score.

Then there’s the frog. He lurks in the grounds of our Singaporean condominium, and he’s seeking a mate. After dark his thoughts turn, as Barry White may have sung, to making a little love or as HG Nelson certainly said, to “wielding the night tools.” His call is a loud, resonating, metallic honk. He honks nightly into the cruel fug. His throbbing desperation wakes us up, and keeps us sleepless. Nightly. The wife and I want to escape his amphibious ardour so we’re heading to South Australia for a June holiday.

Despite living on the equator I love winter. The endless summer here delivers an effortless lifestyle of shorts and swimming, but Adelaide extends her charms. I like dressing for the cold; faded jeans and my boots- indestructible Blundstones bought in Kimba twenty years back. Include Dunlop volleys and a pair of dusty thongs and what other footwear is there? The Southern Ocean often lashes its wind at us so I’m a convert to the hoodie. We’ll stick a pair of rubber boots on each of our boys Alex and Max and they’ll be right. Cousins are often among our first friends and, happily, they’ll all soon be running, yelling and settling their necessary disputes.

We’ll relax in Adelaide, but I’ll also tour the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra – viniculturally. Confirmed by one ignoble episode, tropical life and cabernet sauvignon simply don’t combine for me. It’ll be superb to plonk down with some old winter friends from Turkey Flat, d’Arenberg and Katnook, and discover what they’ve been up to. I’m confident that every bottle will burst with stories as I sit at assorted tables with Dad, my wife’s Dad and the brothers-in-law, and uncork some robust conversations about footy, the Ashes tour and everything else.

Winter back home often hosts cloudless, still days of pale sunshine; ideal for beach walks and parks. Blokes occasionally label their pubs; Rundle Street’s Exeter is, “The X.” The boys name their preferred coastal playgrounds- the Nemo Park, the Buffalo Park and the Rock Lobster; baptised for the B52’s song I unthinkingly played them once. They also have to climb some trees with their mates.

Enthusiastically standing on the terraces as Glenelg play at Brighton Road could placate my football pang. Contemporary AFL spectators have little opportunity to appreciate the contest, as it should be enjoyed. Standing, skilfully, allows for better talking, laughing and barracking, and also expedites what HG described as, “drinking in concert.” Unlike modern colosseums, I can wander to Snout’s bar or the BBQ while maintaining an eye and an ear on the ball, without burrowing down a concrete hole, like a rodent, seeking a snag or a pint.

Improbable footballers such as cult Roosters full forward Grenville Deitrich charm me. Treasured exceptions who, despite their prohibitive shape, advance to a high level. Thankfully, these survive in the SANFL. Just. I favour this over the AFL as the national competition is increasingly conquered by charisma-free robots, automotons manufactured into facsimiles of footballers like an Asimov dystopia.

A fire is vital. Both sets of grandparents have wood fires. Grumpy’s Brewhaus at Verdun boasts a German-inspired microbrewery, wood-oven and combustion stove. A golden pint of Tomcat pilsner and a few slices of Funky Chicken pizza on a Sunday and I’ll be set. I taste it all now, and can smell the drifting eucalyptus smoke as Alex and Max scurry through the last of the autumn leaves on Grumpy’s lawn.

Life here in the endless summer is fine but, like gravity, winter at home exerts an indisputable pull. It will be a languid exhalation but, ultimately, we’re hoping that when we return to Singapore, our amorous frog is on his universally anticipated honeymoon.

About Mickey Randall

Late afternoon beer, Exile on Main St playing. Sport like cricket, most types of football, golf, squash, horse racing. Travel, with Vancouver my favourite city, but there’s nowhere I’ve not happily been. Except Luton. Reading. Writing about family, sport, music, the stuff that amuses me. Conversation. Wit. Irony. McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon, Barossa shiraz, Coopers Sparkling Ale. Jazz and especially Miles Davis. Lots and lots of music. I live in Adelaide with my wife Kerry-ann and our boys Alex and Max.

Comments

  1. Mickey, You will be in the running for Best Opening Line of 2013 for a long time. Really engaging piece. I was entertained from go to whoa.

    Remember the old d’Arenberg Second Press. Big and beautiful wines despite the Essendon sash on the label.

    Without changing the delightful tone of your discussion I should mention that when my Dad was dying in the Royal Adelaide my three brothers and I would wander down to the X for a counter lunch – Rockford’s Basket Press is on the wine list there. Very Adelaide. Some huge conversations – about Dad – over a superb red and a steak.

  2. Great piece Mickey.Dietrich and McLaren Vale shiraz are legends but as a long suffering Rooster supporter I have nightmares about the Bays after their Grand Final wins in the 80s against us.

  3. Phil Stevo says:

    Mate, I have had an endless summer for 10 years here in Singapore but that piece got me craving for a southern Victorian winter. Down to the rubbery after work on a Friday, happy hour pots and try and win the local footy club meat tray raffle. Home to the wood fire and fish chips, the flake in golden batter and the potato cakes crisp. Then sit back with a cold VB or Crownie and watch the game on TV. Crank the fire up because there’s a 30knot South Westerly from the Southern Ocean that been channelled into Bass Strait blasting us.
    Then Saturday off to watch the Seagulls take on the Grubbers for the Battle of the Bridge.
    Ahh, but it is bloody cold mate!

  4. When I joined the army many years ago, we were give Dunlop volleys. To this day they are a brilliant shoe. Not in the army any more but the smell of a volley, a bbq, a good scotch and the saints on telly brings home a great feeling.
    Cheers

  5. mickey randall says:

    Thanks for your comments, much appreciated!
    John- I’m really anticipating a glass of big Barossa red, and I pint at the Exeter!
    Oges- It’s been a long time for Glenelg and North Adelaide fans alike. I reckon Norwood might win the flag again.
    Phil- Whilst it gets cold in Adelaide I reckon winter in Melbourne is even more bracing!
    Mick- I played country cricket with a guy who, in his late twenties, bought six pairs of volleys at once and claimed that they would get him through the rest of his cricket career. I’ll bet he was right!

  6. Mickey, these posts of yours are always a highlight. As John commented, a really engaging read.

  7. Just a couple of my Adelaide winter favourites: hot Vili’s pies and Southwark Old Stout (even better than Cooper’s!)

  8. mickey randall says:

    T Bone- Thanks for that! Much appreciated.
    Kevmak- Agreed. The pie and stout diet works a treat if you need to put on a stack of weight in a big hurry!

  9. Lachlan Waterman says:

    Brilliant piece Mickey. Pleased to see you are Bays man too. Nothing like a beer on Snouts Hill as the boys rally late kicking to Glenelg Primary School end.

    I was talking about Grenville Diettrich the other day with a mate who played for Woodville in the 80s: Grenville’s Friday night routine would be to go to the opposition’s bar get pleasantly plastered- often going in rounds with opposition supporters and return the next day and kick a bag of goals!

  10. mickey randall says:

    Thanks Lachlan.

    Brighton Road is a pretty easy place to watch footy; partly as the ground’s small dimensions mean the action is always close. It’s normally a well-behaved crowd too and the grandstands on the western wing shelter the worst of the wind.

    I recall Grenville- and which SANFL fan does not have at least one conversation about him every season- as having a most languid and accurate kick. Not surprisingly, I believe he is now a fairly handy lawn bowler, and I imagine, is accounting for at least a West End Draught butcher per end. That, according to most, was always the required imperial measure in post-war bowls!

  11. The Bays are promoting the 10 June game as a 40th year celebration of the great 1973 Thomas Seymour Hill Cup win.
    Another disappointing year seems to be unfolding.
    The winters in adelaide are very mild so a day at the footy is usually comfortable – except at West Lakes – though my bias is probably due to the 1974 disaster after which I vowed to never return!
    A day at Brighton Road is complete with a few “afters” at the Broady and a steak at the Barby Inn.

  12. mickey randall says:

    Thanks for the tip Crio. The June 10 game might be the one I go to. As you know celebrations are painfully rare down at the Bay so being there for that anniversary would be good. Isn’t the Barby Inn amazing? Like so many shopping and tourist precincts, Jetty road is constantly changing, but the BBQ Inn is joyously defiant.

  13. Lovely work Mickey.

    I’m a Deutsche Shiraz and Two Hands man at present. Different wines take me at different times.

    Someone should start a wine blog. I could crap on for hours.

  14. mickey randall says:

    Thanks Dips. The Dutschke GHR is a great wine; I’ll be sure to have one when home. Phillip White is an excellent wine writer and his blog, Drinks, is always lively and engrossing.

  15. Remember the old Garden Restaurant on Anzac Hway opposite Lenny’s. For six months or so I lived in Byron St and they were classic nights at the Garden over Rot de Gut ’83.

  16. K. Dutschke’s brother is a reader – G’day BD. Indeed, BD is much more than that: he is the Officicial Almanac Meteorologist. He has had many triumphs not the least of which was nominating the size and arrival time of the storm which belted Adelaide ablut an hour after the Australian had capitualted in 2010. BD is also a stalwart of the Uni of Adelaide Blacks and may well get a mention in Captain SAPSASA’s fine essay, ‘Hold Your Bowlies’, in Footy Town.

    PS Agree about the Dutschke reds.

  17. mickey randall says:

    You’ve convinced me to call in to the winery when I’m home John. Mum and Dad live in Nuriootpa and I’ve driven through Lyndoch countless times and know exactly where it is. The wonderful Henley Wine Club introduced me to the world of Dutschke wines, and I’ve been a fan ever since! The local bakery is also excellent.

  18. djlitsa says:

    Hi Mickey

    I have my own winter holiday planned to Melbourne in June scheduled around the Blues V Bombers game. Will be the first Blues game for the kids and can’t wait. We did winter last year as well and rented a house in Jan Juc 2 doors down from a mates place. Had the fire going 3 days straight! Also, while we do not get woken up by a frog, one seems to have taken over the downstairs bathroom of a night. Always seen hopping away when I am down in the early morning getting my daughter off to school (local school crazy am starting time). I too hope he might find a new home by my return.

  19. Mickey – thanks for the tip on the wine blog.

  20. mickey randall says:

    djlitsa- Enjoy your Melbourne holiday! Footy and a fire. Great stuff. I reckon your Blues are just starting to rumble to life. Their game against the Bombers should be a belter.

  21. Hey Mickey, words so fine, words so fine they…

    I’m half equatorial and it’s the half that must control my atmospheric preferences – I love the heat and really struggle with the cold.

    Footy aside, your piece though helped me better appreciate the great things that come with a Melbourne winter.

  22. Very much enjoyed the read, Mickey.

    I walked out in my backyard in the city and the fog reminded me of winter days growing up with an open fire. Nothing beats it. I love summer, I love beach holidays. But days like that are my favourite, especially when the footy is on!

  23. mickey randall says:

    Thanks for your comments Pete and Liam. As I age I’m becoming more of a winter than summer person, which I why I find myself currently living in Singapore! May your teams do well!

  24. My team does very well, thanks very much.

    Nothing like the a glass of red and an open fire in the Singapore Winter.

  25. mick you might remember back in 73 i think, down at the bay oval at the start of the seconds game against port. it was the three teams on oval caper. borne of fertile minds during university prosh week a bunch of ratbags called United decided that they would get on the front page of the Prosh Rag and win a keg for their feat and so they did. as glenelg seconds ran out of the race so did united lads jump the fence next to them and join in the on field fun. the ump must have been an economist because he saw nothing wrong with 2 lots of bays players running around. Eric Freeman Port colossus who was playing in the seconds saw the jig straight away. He was heard to say : effing 2 lots of bays we’ll beat the effing lot of yuz.”

  26. Henry de Cure says:

    Legend. Keep these entertaining pieces coming Randall!

  27. mickey randall says:

    Nank- Brilliant! Sadly, there is limited place for this today although there should be!

    Henry- Thanks for that. See you down the Bay soon.

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Fantastic Arcticle Mickey in fact it should be used to Advertise SA ! You describe the Wine Regions of SA Perfectly also I concur give me
    SANFL over AFL for atmosphere etc as well have had some enjoyable banter as a Norwood Supporter with Snouts Louts on numerous occasions Good to see you give Bob Neils Choice of Shoes Tje Famous Dunlop Volleys a Mention and 1 of the Greatest Characters ever to Play the Game in Grenville Dietrich also included in your article what else could you ask for ? Well Done Mickey !

  29. mickey randall says:

    Thanks for that Malcolm. Glad you enjoyed it, and that we agree on wine, Dunlop Volleys and Grenville!

  30. Grenville Dietrich says:

    Great article Mickey, I agree about the AFL having no characters anymore and are now like robots. As you have to be an elite running athlete to now partake in that competition hence the forever whinging about poor goalkicking, as most of the players are now coming from a Basketball background and have never learnt or been taught how to kick properly from a young age. As far as Lawn Bowls go I have great difficulty holding a butcher glass in my hand as it doesn’t seem to fit very well so it is still pints each end and or a red west end draught can…..Keep up the great writing

  31. mickey randall says:

    Thanks for the comments Grenville. Although its changing one reason I like the SANFL is that most players are footballers first and athletes second. Agree with you that there seem to be fewer truly reliable goal-kickers now. However, there’s big praise for Lewis Johnson- let’s hope that he can really develop!
    Good luck with the bowls- any sport which demands beer-drinking of its participants is to be admired!

Leave a Comment

*