2009 Almanac Grand Final Lunch

The moment it was confirmed to me that the 2009 Footy Almanac pre-Grand Final lunch was a shemozzle was when I noticed the huge puddle beneath the seats of Andrew Mackie’s parents.

Oh no, I groaned. Why couldn’t it be Peter Flynn or Chris Riordan in the wet spot? Or any of the Almanackers who’d be too excited to notice that goldfish were swimming around their feet?

Our previous lunches at the All Nations Hotel in Richmond had been held in the magnificently intimate dining room. You can fit about 45 in there. When we estimated that 70 would turn up for the pre-Grand Final lunch, we agreed with the publican to hold the festivities in the undercover area out the back.

Of course we didn’t count on the Ballarat conditions of extreme cold and incessant rain. The All Nations people helped out by putting up a tarpaulin that extended out over the non-covered area, but sadly it wasn’t enough.

The Mackies sat beneath the sliver of light between the tarp and the roof. This tiny opening enabled rain to drip just a bootlace away from the Mackies’ heads. I was mortified whenever I looked at them.

The other flaw was our estimate of numbers. About 80 punters filed from the bar to the outside area. Then the Geelong entourage of players’ parents and their friends turned up. About 20 of them. My effort to find a seat for everyone was fruitless. The Geelong parents were shuffled off to the intimate dining room and invited, nay instructed, to return outside after their meals.

The formal part of the day consisted of Almanac boss John Harms interviewing various identities about the following day’s big match. The highlight was the interview of Steve Johnson’s Dad, Terry.

Terry Johnson is a financial planner in Wangaratta. Throughout the interview he stood up the front dangling a gasper in his right hand and smiling like a fishermen who’d just caught a cod in the Ovens River. If I ever get around to seeking financial advice, I want it to be with someone like Terry Johnson.

When Harmsy asked Terry about Steve’s proclivity for jumping from fences when he’s drunk, Terry smiled even wider. He said Steve was then a young bloke. And young blokes will be young blokes. Anyway, as far as jumps from fences go, it was a good one.

When Harmsy asked Terry to name Steve’s best game, Terry surprised everyone by forgetting his son’s Norm Smith performance in the 2007 AFL Grand Final and plumping for a game that Steve played for the Wangaratta Football Club when he was 15. It was at the McNamara Oval in Myrtleford. Terry said Steve kicked five and got 43 possessions.

I later found out that Terry embellished a bit. Steve was 17, not 15, and he kicked three goals rather than five. But Terry was spot on about the possession tally. In any case, what’s a couple of years and a couple of goals between a hundred friends? Terry was clapped from the soggy stage as if he’d torn Myrtleford apart himself.

Harmsy also interviewed Tom Harley’s Dad and a few other Geelong folk. In fact there were so many Geelong folk that Bev O’Connor, an ABC journalist, who therefore knows about goodness and fairness, began calling for something called balance. Time to interview a St Kilda supporter, she said.

Poor Bev. The Almanac is not about balance. We encourage our writers to be partisan, to fly the colours of their team as if they’ve caught a bigger fish than Terry Johnson. The Geelong folk kept filing forward to be interviewed.

At the end of the ragtag proceedings I went up to the Mackies to apologise for their sodden steaks. Mr Mackie laughed. He told me not to worry about it.

“Official lunches are so corporate,” he said. “We’ve had a great time. See you again next year.”

The 2010 Footy Almanac pre-Grand Final lunch is at the Clyde Hotel, on the corner of Elgin and Cardigan Streets in Carlton, at 12.30 pm on Friday 24 September. There’s more than enough room for everyone to have a seat inside. Come along and meet the Mackies.


  1. Sydney Malakellis says

    If there was a book entitled “100 functions you must attend before you die” (which there probably is), I reckon The Footy Almanac Lunch would easily reach the top 8. And possibly go deep into the finals.

    The Knacker lunch I went to this year with Tony Wilson as the special guest was probably the best function I have been to outside of my wedding. No kidding. Footy for entree, footy for main, all washed down with a delicious serve of footy. Brilliant.

  2. SydMal, that’s a great call!

    Best value in town I reckon (and I’m not being paid a bonus to say that).

    I turned up last year not knowing a soul, and only reluctantly left some 7 hours later.

  3. And kick on at Moonee Valley races where – you guessed it – I’ll be swinging the bag for Turfbet!
    I wish Fridays weren’t lunch days(grr).

  4. I still find Terry Johnson’s story of Steve’s conception one of the funniest things I’ve heard – especially in such mixed company!

  5. David Downer says


    Do Geelong Coterie members get a discount at the Almanac GF lunch?

    …this is the bit where I say “LOL”?


  6. DD

    You need to get over this Geelong thing.

    Once you’ve beaten them in the GF you should be cured.

  7. Will the Mackies still be there if Geelong doesn’t make it to the GF?

  8. Gigs don’t be ridiculous – of course Geelong will make it to the Grand Final!

    As my super optimistic friend and fellow Cat supporter says “We’ll win the flag this year because, quite simply, we are by far the best team.”

    How do you argue with that?

  9. Does that include Andrew Mackie?? ;)

  10. I was spewing when I saw the teams on Thursday night. How could Geelong do this to Andrew Mackie’s parents? After all they’ve been through!

    We might have to have an Andrew Mackie Parents award at the lunch for the most inconvenienced yet happy luncher.

    I hope it rains.

  11. Andrew Fithall says

    Peter Flynn #11. That is uncalled for. Luring unsuspecting people into watching inappropriate content on the net. There should be a law against it.

  12. Looking forward to coming down for the Grand Final lunch, sounds like a great day.

  13. Stellar effort, Flynny :P

    Daffs – you weren’t the only one spewing. Still looking for the logic behind a large number of Geelong selection calls for the past five years.

  14. AF,

    It was an insight into what coaches and players mean when they talk about structures.

    I didn’t realise they were talking about Lego.

  15. Susie,

    Intriguing about selection shockers. Everyone just assumes that, because the Cats have been so successful, everything they’ve done has been right.

    What shockers have they made?

  16. Any idea on who the guest speaker will be, Daff?

  17. #16 – Gosh, I’d have to trowl through the records to recall them all, but at the moment the ones that stand out include:

    The decision to carry Travis Varcoe in 2008 (Clearly a favourite of Thompson’s, his effort and success were bordering on nil)

    The continual neglect of Davenport, who rumour had it was NOT on good terms with Bomber, despite the fact he was repeatedly kicking bags in the VFL and winning games off his own boot.

    The decision to play Longergan as a key forward (he was the feel-good story; would’ve been delisted if not for the kidney).

    (infamously) Stokes and Varcoe over Byrnes and Wojo in the 2008 GF. And before anyone mentions “hindsight”, I can’t speak for all Geelong fans, but I was pretty peed off even before the game.

    … I’ll add more when I think of them.

  18. Paul

    Andrew Mackie a chance to join the folks now?

  19. Daff,

    will they be serving that new bitter beer that is being promo’d all around Australia, and likely the world, through email at this very moment.

    With a name like that it should go well at the Irish theme pubs.

    I wonder if there will be another lot out next week. I certainly hope so. Hic!

  20. Might drop in late with some tips for Money Valley. Have a great day.

  21. What a pity I have a pre-existing engagement. Hope it’s a great lunch!

  22. Julz, just bring your pre-existing engagement with you.

  23. #8. Dips, do you have a follow up comment?

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