42 Footy Memories in 42 years as a fan


According to Douglas Adams and the supercomputer Deep Thought of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is the number 42. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was.

With this in mind I decided to do a random year association test to see what would be the first memory that would come up for each of my last 42 years as a footy fan. Collingwood is prominent, of course, yet there were some pleasant and not so pleasant surprises in my little experiment. How I felt watching Carman in 1975 and following the Pies’ 11 goal third quarter blitz against the Cats in the 2016 NAB Challenge was acutely similar. Bless the child inside.

1975 – Carman in white boots mauls Hawthorn at Victoria Park

1976- Stealing a footy mag with Peter Knights flying high on the cover

1977 – Being the only wog kid kicking a footy at Queenstown’s gravel oval

1978 – Hearing the phrase ‘he threads the handpass’ uttered by Clark Hansen

1979 – The first glimpse of Daicos and the power of Stanley Magro

1980 – Billy Picken’s number 25 proudly sewn on my guernsey

1981 – Developing an intense and irrational hatred of Carlton and all it stands for

1982 – Seeing female pubic hair for the first time courtesy of Helen D’Amico

1983 – Believing that Gary Shaw could be Collingwood’s greatest rover

1984 – Wondering if it was okay to like Culture Club and footy at the same time

1985 – Seeing the Pies beat North under lights at the G for the first time

1986 – First girlfriend followed Collingwood then switched to Carlton in May

1987 – Watching Capper kick 9 in the opening round at Vic Park and feeling sick

1988 – Hearing my Fitzroy mate utter ‘we’ve lost’ after St Kilda score first point

1989 – Leaving a game at half-time for the first time. Hawks were up by 60pts

1990 – Jubilation in Johnston Street after the Pies broke a 32 year hoodoo

1991 – Number 42 is laid to rest way too early

1992 – Leigh Matthews’ experimentation with ‘Restoria’ an abject failure

1993 – Thrilled at seeing Modra take towering marks at full-forward

1994 – Savouring the deafening roar after Mick McGuane’s 7 bounce goal

1995 – Seeing Nathan Buckley become a one man band at Pieland

1996 – Thinking Tony Shaw might be a Premiership coach

1997 – Ringing my brother from Greece with trepidation/anticipation at results

1998 – First game back after a year in Greece ends in Carlton humiliating Pies

1999 – Acknowledging that Tony Shaw will never be a Premiership Coach

2000 – Malthouse coached Pies thump Carlton. Anastasia born in Carlton

2001 – Following footy via the Internet in Greece for the first time

2002 – Tears and Pride at the GF wake

2003 – Tears and Rage at the GF wake

2004 – Thinking Nick Maxwell would be lucky to play a handful of games

2005 – Thinking how lucky Nick Maxwell is at having played so many games

2006 – Seeing Dane Swan blossom as a footballer

2007 – Almost pipping Geelong in an epic prelim

2008 – Writing for the Footy Almanac. 3 games, 3 losses

2009 – Watching Gary Ablett Jnr at his sublime best

2010 – Enjoying the flag, but wishing it was anyone but Malthouse as coach

2011 – Andrew Krakouer’s entire season a redemption song

2012 – Getting Foxtel for the footy and getting hooked on Mob Wives

2013 – Getting rid of Foxtel for the sake of my own and my family’s sanity

2014 – Preferring to read the Footy Record than watch scrumathon against Dees

2015 – The light returns. The torch bearer – Jamie ‘Billy’ Elliott

2016 – Childlike thrill at cheering on an 11 goal qtr in a practice match

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. Very enjoyable exercise Phil, and I love your choice of header pic. I saw the footage of Billy’s mark of the year (1976) in some compilation – maybe it was Up there Cazaly – when I was little. I was inspired to draw it a number of times, the mark morphing in my mind into a stack about four players high with #25 surfing above them all to take the grab. A standout memory of when I first followed footy.

    The number 42 is also significant for me, I’ll never forget hearing the news on the radio first thing on the morning of my 18th, like it was yesterday. Now I’m 42 and I can’t believe it’ll be 25 years ago this October. Probably my saddest footy memory.

    Frightening how time flies.

  2. Yep Phil. “Childlike thrill” says it all. Each March I am 8 years old again staring in awe at the gods (some with feet of clay – but gods all the same) on my field of dreams. I used to stare up in awe and wonder at my red-faced grandparents screaming abuse at umpires and Magpies (Port Adelaide variety). “They are such nice people, I guess the footy entitles us to shared lunacy?” Nowadays I just do my best to live up to their example.
    it’s tribal. It’s primal. Footy season returns again. Yippee. I get to be a big kid again for (at least) 3 hours a week.

  3. Phil – the last one is a bit sad. But from little things big things grow. Isn’t it just fantastic that most football supporters (look away now Blues and Bomber fans) really think that this new season will be different. We can win this! Its footy Christmas.

  4. G’day Phil. A nice package there. I need to think of my40+ years of footy watching. Is my memory up to it ?!?

    A couple of quick Q’s ? The 1975 recollection, you consider the Phil Carman white boots v Hawthorn effort superior to his demolition of St Kilda at Moorabbin ? Similarly re Helen D’Amico’s map of Tasmania, is that the only time you’d have been happy for Carlton to win a Flag ?

    Hope to catch up tomorrow night.


  5. Like you we were in Europe in 2001 and I remember going into a Roman internet cafe to check the football scores. And, yes, Collingwood had beaten Adelaide by a small margin as was traditional at the time. Commiserating with pizza and vino in the Italian sunshine certainly helped.

    Nice list Phil. I reckon we’ll see a few more of these now!

  6. DBalassone says

    Ross Brewer tearing apart the Cats in the 80-81 Prelims?

    An evocative journey Phil. Great stuff mate.

  7. Andrew Starkie says

    Thought you were a lot older than 42.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Wow Phil, I have trouble summoning up any memories at all from some Crows seasons. You may have started something here.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    I thought the same in ’96. L.Matthews continued his form of leaving teams in poor shape when leaving the Lions too. How much of an influence was T.Shaw in the ’02 & ’03 GF teams with his work in 1999? The timing was poor for the premiership skipper in his coaching career.
    I was at 2016. It was a beautiful, beautiful 30 minutes. Hope to see it again several times this year.
    Great work Phil, loved this. Go pies.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for the responses gents.

    PB – That little 8 year old in is indeed precious. He forgives a lot.

    JD – Never forget how I felt the morning I heard the news about ‘Pants’ Millane. Utter sadness. While this is Picken beauty, the one he too over Maclure in the 79 GF (in the mud) was my fave.

    Dips – Good seeing you again tonight. We must have a chat about ‘House of Cards’ one day. Just finished Season 4. Blown away. Spacey is at the top of his game, but Robin Wright more than holds her own. Brilliant series. Underwood makes Trump look like an altar boy.

    Glen! – I reckon the performance against St Kilda was Carman at his best, but I wasn’t there like I was against Hawthorn. Every time he got the ball my five year old self felt the excitement as the murmur in the crowd became more pronounced. Few players can do that. Daicos the other and there is a bit of it with Elliott. Long way to go for ‘Billy’ though. Didn’t get a chance to meet you tonight. Would have been nice to put a face to the exclamation!

    Mickey – The Adelaide game was one I remember most! Took ages for the AFL site to update scores. The Greeks in the cafe thought I was a bit of a nut when I inadvertently yelled “Go Pies” after the final score became official.

    Cheers Damo – I really tried to fit Brewer in for 1981. Hatred of Carlton overrode it after that GF.

    Starkers – I was 5 and the Carman memory was vivid amidst the many blurs of that age. Almost due for a Zatar session mate.

    Come on Swish – You know you want to

    Luke – Good point about Matthews leaving teams in poor shape as much of our bad recruting was between 1992-95 when he was coach. Didn’t help Shawry much did it? It was a beautiful 30 minutes at Geelong wasn’t it? Just listening to it on the radio got me fired up ! Go Pies.

  11. aussiegus says

    Can I suggest 1986 was not good year. There is rejection and then there is Carlton

  12. Some great memories there for Collingwood fans, Phil.
    Apologies for not getting a chance to have a chat at the launch.
    Next time, for sure!

  13. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Aussiegus, let’s just say it was a year of contrasting fortunes. We have since stayed friends and she went back to Collingwood. Had to see the light, eventually.

    Cheers Smokie. Always great catching up with everyone at Almanac events. I had to leave a bit early this time. Will definitely catch up at the next one. Best of luck to your Roos this year. Could go close.

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