1983: Fitzroy a Threat for the Flag!

“Now that Fitzroy is dead, what are you going to do with your life?”

Dr Matthias Kronk, BSc (Hons), MB ChB (Melb), MRCPsych, was no mug. He deliberately posed the question in an attempt to shake Harry out of this apathy and overwhelming sense of self-pity. ‘Ruthless Compassion’ he called it. A linguistic electric shock treatment designed to jolt the sufferer out of his nihilistic nostalgia and into the present.

Harry started giggling. His brother Jimmy had said something similar a few days earlier. The exact quote: “Fitzroy is dead, dude. Get over it!”

Jimmy Hatzis was thirty-six-years old, living at home and still not married. He left school at the end of Form 5 and got a job at the Commonwealth Bank in Preston. He was a teller then and was still a teller now.

Fotini also worked at the same bank, as a cleaner. She got Jimmy the job by speaking to the manager. Occasionally she’d bring homemade ‘baklava’ and ‘galaktobouriko’to work for the bank staff to enjoy with their morning tea. She worked from 6-9am and made sure that she’d give her Jimmy a kiss goodbye before he started work every morning.

Jimmy felt embarrassed for the first few years, but he got used to it, even depended on it to start his day.

“How is this relevant?” asked a bemused and slightly agitated Kronk.

Harry took him back to 1983: Carlton v Fitzroy at Princes Park.

Jimmy and his mate Pasquale Ferraro were ‘forced’ to take Harry with them to the game by a defiant Fotini. “You made him Fitchyroy, you take him to footy. No fair for Herry to not go, just this once.”
It didn’t take much guilt from Fotini to sway Jimmy and he begrudgingly agreed on the condition that Harry does not wear any Fitzroy paraphernalia to the game.

It was a cold and drizzly April afternoon as Jimmy, Pasquale and Harry jumped into Jimmy’s red Datsun 120Y and headed to the game. Spiros decided to stay at home and wait for the rain to stop so he could fire up the incinerator. Lots of leaves and plastic had to be burned. “Ah no woories, only Fitzroy.” he asserted.

The Roys were second on the ladder and the reigning premiers were sitting fifth, after an indifferent start to the season. It was too early to say whether Fitzroy were playing above themselves at this stage.

Pasquale Ferraro was Jimmy’s best mate from high school. He was a hairdresser not a ‘barberi’ as Fotini put it. Pasquale was the son of Italian peasants from Southern Italy and Jimmy the son of Greek peasants from Northern Greece . They had much in common, including a love of Michael Jackson, Prince and fucking Flashdance. They wore matching Faberge stretch jeans and karate slippers wherever they went. They both favoured the ‘poodle perm’ as a hairstyle and Pino as their choice of aftershave. They wore the same ridiculous wispy moustache that was fashionable at the time among just about every male wog between 16 and 25 in the Northern Suburbs. If it wasn’t excruciating enough looking at them, Harry had to listen to them as well.

“How do ya fink we’ll go wifout Fitzpatrick?” asked Pasquale
“Shit it in, Pas. Rendell is overrated. Reid just has to give a contest and our mosquito’s will blitz them. If Wilson and Quinlan don’t play well, they’re fucked.” said Jimmy in a matter of fact and condescending manner.

The first quarter was going Carlton’s way. Spiro Kourkemelis was in the ‘fick of fings’ as Pas put it, and Bruce Reid was matching Rendell in the ruck.

When Kourkemelis got the ball to Bosustow for the first goal every Carlton supporting, pooodle permed, Prince-loving, Flashdance try-hard erupted into rapture under their mothers’ umbrellas. Jimmy and Pas engaged in a disturbing game of handy where they gently jabbed each other in the lower abdomen as the manufactured curls on their forehead mingled in a faux folicular orgy.

The Roys were fighting though and it wasn’t their star players that were keeping them in the game. Les Parish was starting attacks from the backline and Leigh Carlson and Peter Francis (Collingwood and Carlton rejects) were dominating the wings, giving McMahon and Quinlan opportunities up forward.

Fitzroy led by 5 points at half-time, but everyone in the outer knew how deadly Carlton’s 3rd quarters could be. 8 goals in 10 minutes was the coup de grace for this formidable Blues outfit.

Harry keenly clapped the first half goals, but kept quiet at half-time, nervously munching on a packet of Samboy salt and vinegar and drinking a coke.

Fitzroy annihilated Carlton in the 3rd quarter. The famed mosquito fleet had been swatted to buggery by the likes of Paul Roos, Garry Sidebottom and Billy Lokan, to name a few.

Ten minutes into the last quarter two thirds of Carlton’s wog (and anglo) faithful were heading for the exits. Harry was beside himself: “Go Roys!!!” he yelled from the purest depths of his 12 year old soul.

Jimmy and Pas had had enough and wanted to go home. They left with ten minutes to go and urged Harry to come with them. Harry told them he he’d catch the tram home. Before they left Harry pulled out his Fitzroy badge and wore it proudly on his raincoat, much to Jimmy and Pas’ chagrin.

He got home just in time to watch the replay on the small Panasonic in the kitchen with his mum who kept chanting:

“Go Fitchyroy! Piss off Culton!”

Spiro and Jimmy resorted to watching ‘Young Talent Time’ in the lounge room.

The next day the press declared Fitzroy a “Genuine Threat for the Flag.”

It wasn’t a case of “Carlton goes down to lowly Fitzroy.”

This time it was more like “Fitzroy takes Carlton to the Cleaners.”

Kronk smiled and nodded his head. Some things you just can’t kill.

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Peter Zitterschlager says

    The spirit of Fitzroy soars in this series Phil …. this is really going somewhere, I think.

  2. Looking forward to the next instalment, Phil.

  3. Highly amusing!
    I can imagine this story been told in a stinky pub with roars of laughter! Nice job Phil, you’re ok for a guy! Lol

    Go the TIGERS!!

  4. Absolutely brilliant, Phil. I wasn’t at this game, but watched it on the box up in CanOfBeerAh. 1983 was the one that got away from a RoyBoy’s point of view.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant. Feel like I’m in 1983 reading this. Still 30+ years of Harry tales to come, keep them coming!

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic Phillip loving these stories , keep em coming

  7. Loving the Fitzroy stories Phil. Really captures the era too, with the details of Harry & the other characters.

  8. Philip Mendes says

    Cool article Phil

  9. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for the comments and the encouragement all. Please feel free to offer a critique if you think that something isn’t working or could be further developed. I’m pretty fresh at writing fictional/historical/ memoir so suggestions are encouraged and welcome.

    Love Lou Richards’ commentary in the clip about collecting the umbrellas if O’Riley missed. Game so open, despite being played in the wet. Good spread of Fitzroy fans in the outer too. Where are they now and if they’re alive, do they still care? Cheers

  10. So many a great line Phil, ‘faux folicular orgy’ being my pick.

    And you’ve painted such a vivid picture with this one.

    As a character Jimmy Hatzis is certainly bookworthy. Horace Wimp (if you know your ELO) meets Specky Magee.

    I see Leigh Carlson the long sleeved wet weather specialist was in his elements.

    Looking forward to ‘Jimmy Does Vic Park’ and ‘Jimmy’s near death experience at Windy Hill’.

  11. Phil,
    You’ve inspired me to find a story I wrote years ago about the demise of the Lions.
    I hated what the AFL did to Fitzroy.
    I knew a family of Fitzroy supporters when I was a kid.
    I’ve always wondered how they felt at the time and if they support Brisbane.
    A kid I went to high school with donated thousands to Fitzroy. His dad did too. They got the Fitzroy crest tattooed on their arms.
    I never did find out if they sent their allegiance to Brisbane.
    What happened to Fitzroy was disgraceful.

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers JD, yes Carlson was great in the wet and during Escort Cup games at night.

    Thanks Matt,
    these stories are loosely based on a few of my old Roy Boy mates. I know for a fact that 2 of them donated upwards of $20K in the final years to keep their club afloat. They hate the AFL and Brisbane and no longer follow AFL. Who could blame them?

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