Vale “Name A Game”

Today marks the end of an era for the footy nostalgiasts among us.

 

Sports Delivered have officially decided to put an end to their “Name A Game” service, one that has provided home and away, finals and State of Origin matches on VHS and later DVD format since the early 1990’s. No doubt they have their reasons.

 

There are after all other avenues in which fans can access their favourite footage from the past (which I’ll touch upon later), but, for a long time Name a Game was invaluable to those of us who have at the very least an entry-level historical interest in our game. After all, Channel Seven did not present themselves as leaders in the area of preservation having kept none of their home and away matches prior to the tail end of the 1990 AFL season. The one exception being the round 6 encounter between Hawthorn and Geelong in 1989. Not a bad choice if you had to pick one. The ABC fared a little better having kept a few dozen from their one year as VFL broadcaster in 1987.

 

During the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Name a Game was something of a godsend to me. During this time I had already amassed a fair number of past Grand Finals, having developed an interest in the history of the game beyond the team I supported. For some reason the Grand Finals between 1961-65 were never made available which meant there was no way of accessing the prized 1963 premiership victory for Geelong (their last premiership to date at this period) barring the last quarter as part of the “Fabulous Footy Flashbacks” series presented by Rex Hunt and then Leigh Matthews.

 

For those of us who feel the need to compensate for lack of premiership success, or even home and away success, depending on how your team is faring, access to past glories, even those that are awarded just the four points, can be a very hand tonic.

 

The tyranny of distance played its part also. Living on the other side of the country from where your team plays most of its matches leaves you at the mercy of the local broadcaster. No problem if you were a West Coast supporter. Otherwise, it’s fingers crossed that your team isn’t the one that ends up on the 5pm highlights package or even gets recorded at all as was still the case in the early 1990s.

 

Sports statistics books light the fire for some of us. Anyone who has any copy of the “Every Game Ever Played” series would know what I’m talking about. Here is where the research is done to select that gem you missed out on that just might be worth watching. A topsy-turvy finals match? A pre-season premiership? A 14 goal quarter? A full forward reaching the ton? An absolute pantsing of that side you cannot stand? A clutch victory for that side that’s no longer in the competition (oh hang on, they “merged”, didn’t they)?

 

All the facts and figures are there for you to take your pick and didn’t my Cats have some doozies from this time. Amongst that hot streak in the early home and away fixtures from 1992, not forgetting the record score against the hapless Bears in round 7 or the end of the run against Essendon in round 9 where, despite Geelong’s 28 goals, Derek Kickett just set the match aflame, the real diamond being the round 4 encounter against West Coast at Subiaco, Gary Ablett Snr’s 150th match. Playing in the centre to cover the absence of Paul Couch, he got himself a casual 36 touches and 5 goals. The victory was one of those anomalies where the winning side wins just the one quarter, courtesy of 11 goals in the second.

 

Most finals matches I was able to record. This was probably just as well as “Name a Game” stuck rigidly to the quarters so you don’t get to see a seething Malcolm Blight giving Peter Riccardi a right throttling in their presentation of the 1994 preliminary finals. There was one I missed though and am eternally grateful to Name a Game for keeping this one – the 1992 qualifier between the Cats and Footscray. This was in the era of that godawful final six format. What made the final six worse? A different final six. Good riddance. Anyways, I’m digressing. This was a bizarre match. First vs second. Footscray open up a 34 point lead half way through the second term with Danny Del Re slotting goals like he was born to do so and the young Justin Charles giving John Barnes a run for this money. A little tussle between Barnes and former Cat Bernard Toohey, along with shifting Ablett to the centre and Barry Stoneham from centre half forward to centre half back then into the ruck then back to centre half back and then into the ruck again at which point I lost track swung the pendulum the other way. Despite the Dogs endeavour they somehow managed to lose the match by just over ten goals. 9.4 to Bill Brownless. The 1992 series stung the Dogs like no other as they were probably the side most capable to beat West Coast only they couldn’t get past ol’ Billy.

 

With Name a Game now gone for good I guess the question to ask is what now fills the void for us nostalgia buffs?

 

Foxtel has some work to do in this area. I’m in my second year of my subscription to the sports package. In Western Australia, footy fans are faced with a dilemma of sorts when it comes to free-to-air viewing (and let’s face it, not everyone can afford Foxtel). That is unless of course you barrack for Fremantle or West Coast in which case you’re fine.

 

The free-to-air format in WA is as follows. You get four games – the Eagles and Dockers matches and two of whatever else. If it happens to be derby week then you may get lucky with the remaining three matches. The catalyst for me was the round 2 match between North Melbourne and West Coast last year. To call it insipid was to pay both sides a compliment. Right then and there I figured if I’m going to watch footy that bad I’d much prefer a choice from nine matches as opposed to four. That’s my story of how I got Foxtel.

 

The offseason viewing sprung some interesting selections.

 

The 1994 encounter between St Kilda and Sydney at the SCG where Tony Lockett destroyed the Swans as well as Peter Caven, the 1993 finals series and the shootout between Ablett and Paul Salmon from that same year to name a few. Great matches but subject to repeats and really very few obscurities.

 

If it’s obscurities you are after folks, then look no further then YouTube. All those private citizens who thought better than to throw away their old VHS recordings of matches broadcast on TV are doing it far better than any paid subscription service. I could go on forever about what you can find through the YouTube search engine but it’s a real treasure trove. Mind you there’s some garbage too and if that’s your thing there’s World of Sport’s Jack Edwards conducting the blandest of interviews with Gary Ablett Snr who just won himself a CD player about the size of a small suitcase. But seriously, the gems are there too. A favourite of mine being a mid-season encounter between Hawthorn and Carlton at Glenferrie in 1973 with Peter Ewin hosting the commentary (remember him from the ’77 grand final? – “Lotta pace, this fellow!”). All the stars are on that one – Crimmins, Scott, Matthews, Jesaulenko, Jones, McKay. It’s a mud slog but the players somehow keep the tempo pretty darn fast.

 

It is a sad day for a great many of us today as the curtain is drawn on Name A Game. Many thanks to our wonderful YouTube pioneers who, at the moment, are going far beyond the call of duty. Their efforts to preserve what is left of the old footage of our game are indeed commendable. A special mention to those who put together the fabulous “VFL on Film” series which is getting harder and harder to come by (I need the first volume!). They more than made up for that abysmal “100 Years of Australian Football” documentary.

 

My boy just woke up from his nap so that’s me done. Farewell “Name a Game”. It’s been nostalgic.

 

One last thing. My budget when it came to my last purchase left me having to make some regretful omissions. Anyone able to help out with these:

 

R11 1992 Fitzroy def Collingwood

R21 1992 Geelong def Fitzroy

R17 1993 Geelong def Collingwood

R7 1994 Geelong def Collingwood

 

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About Adam Fox

I'm based in Perth where I coordinate a radio show called "Soulsides" on RTR-FM. I collect and play rare soul and rhythm and blues 45s and despite my Perthian upbringing I chose to follow Geelong when West Coast came on the scene. I love the history of the game, particulary the VFL era and the suburban grounds and as much as I love the game I am also very fond of those who write about it. My passions are footy, soul music, my cats, my wife and young son Matteo and the city of Melbourne.

Comments

  1. george smith says:

    I’ve got some rare footage pre 1990 which i have used to trade with serious collectors. 1988 pies defeat Geelong at Kardinia park for instance. My dream came true when I managed to score the 1958 grand final, both the last quarter and the newsreel. So my Collingwood premierships went from 1 to 2 (pre 2010)!

    sad to see name a game go. but with the demise of inside football it shows the dizzying speed with which things change – 3KZ, Footy Week World of Sport, all gone in a 30 year period. Even footy on DVDs has been replaced by matches on YouTube and the dark recesses of the internet.

    Thank you name a game for – 1990 second semi (tape cut out in last quarter), Mcguane’s run (girlfriend didn’t tape), Collingwood in Canberra, never broadcast by 7. Every time I missed out on a big match I’d turn to Name a Game.

    Sorry I don’t have the matches you are looking for. I usually only keep Collingwood wins.

  2. Adam Fox says:

    Funnily enough the Pies last won on the last Saturday in September in 1953. (Sorry, had to add that in. Was against the Cats, mind you.)

    Think I know the footage you’re talking about re: ’58. The last quarter being the b&w footage. Love the colour tone used on the newsreel stuff though. Fabulous. Interesting you mention 3KZ as I remember seeing a copy of the 1980 Grand Final with commentary from Jack Dyer and Ian Major on LP format! Wouldn’t mind getting my hands on that one for the in-laws.

  3. Dennis Gedling says:

    I used to look at the big list of games in Inside Footy (RIP) at school and do a list of first ones to buy once I had a job to the last ones to have the ultimate collection. Every single on the list was to be purchased, none of them were of course. Collected old Grand Final Footy Records and Budgets instead. Great stuff Foxman.

  4. Adam Fox says:

    Cheers Dennis! So much for the best laid plans, eh? Was a bit of a rush job with this one, I admit. But had to be sure I got this one out on the very last day of trade. Would have got a ton more had I had the funds.

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