A full day of football

Last Friday, I had a full day of football.

It started at 12 noon (well actually, it was about an hour later when host and guest turned up).

It was the monthly Footy Almanac luncheon at the Clyde Hotel in Carlton, and Ted Hopkins was the Guest of Honour.

Many years ago I was an Arts student at Melbourne Uni. and learned to drink. And philosophise.

Anyway, the Clyde was considered too posh for us students. We didn’t like it, preferring the earthiness of Naughtons.

Well, things have certainly changed. I reckon the students would be avoiding it now because it is so crappy. They’re probably all in the library, anyway.

(Footnote: I was banned from hotels, with strict tee-totaller parents. They thought the Naughtons were a hospitable Carlton family , and wanted to have them for dinner when I left uni.)

Things have changed. Mum has loosened up, will eat in hotels now,  and we teamed up with three other women, Rosemary (Geelong supporter), Cecilia ( poor Tigers girl), and Sue (one-eyed Collingwood).

Mum and I love Carlton, and we attended because we were curious about Ted.

Ted was the prodigy who came off the bench after half-time in the world famous 1970 Grand Final, kicked 4 goals and helped turn a 44 point deficit into an amazing victory.

We often wondered what became of him, as he disappeared soon after 1970, much to the chagrin of the usurped Collingwood. And their displeasure pleased us even more.

Well Ted is an amazing man: clever, objective, multi-talented, multi-married, and maybe multi-millionaire by now.

He started Champion Data, the footy stats that everyone uses now. He has been shafted in business, threatened by ex-Collingwood footballers, suffered personal loss,

but he seems almost to float above it all, on a cloud of objectivity, almost detached. But he can certainly tell a story.

John Harms performed admirably as MC, balancing on crutches, ably assisted by a man (not any man, this was K.I. Carroll – ed) on the table below the dais, who mum and I thought was asleep.

He opened his eyes occasionally, to pass more red wine up to the invalid, which must have made a nice change from the heavy-duty prescription pain-killers.

Of course, I bought Ted’s book, and am enjoying the read (I ditched the book I was reading until then).

It was nice to get the inside word on that GF, I must say.

These Almanac lunches are great!

Mum and I went home, sober, unlike most others I would suspect, (I have been breathalysed on the Johnson Street Bridge and don’t want to relive that experience) and looked forward to an evening of footy.

It was Carlton v Sydney at the SCG, an unhappy hunting ground for the Blues since 1993.

Plus, the Royal Wedding was on.  Mum wasn’t sure what to watch, the dilemma was killing her.

She’s pretty old, so royalty appealed to her. Plus I think she was secretly petrified we wouldn’t win.

I watched the game at home, with my husband drifting in and out of the room, mostly out as we lost the first half. He groans when we are losing, so is banished most of the time.

Yes, I saw bits of the royal wedding: whenever Sydney got a goal or looked like they might.

I can’t remember the last time my beloved Blues got wet and muddy.

It poured in Sydney, something we haven’t been used to in Melbourne for a long, long time.

It must be fifteen years since I got soaked at the footy. It only rains when we play at Etihad, you see.

At half-time we were down 5.8 to 3.6. But the stats told a different story, they said we were in it.

I started to think about Ted’s law, that the stats don’t lie. Tackles, possessions, FFs etc all looked okay, so I just wondered….

Guess what? Ted was right! We were in it!

The second half was drier, but the ground and ball were slippery, and suddenly the Blues remembered how to play wet weather footy, but more importantly, how to win.

Their desire to win became apparent, running in numbers, throwing themselves at the ball. Hooray!! And when Eddie Betts kicked 3 goals in a row in 5 minutes, the Royal Wedding was far from my thoughts.

I love close games, and we were one point down at three quarter time. Even on my own in front of the telly, I found myself clapping goals and good passages of play.

A quick flick over at three quarter time ad break gave me a boring, pompous Minister enjoying his moment of glory in Westminster Abbey, lecturing the newlyweds from the pulpit,

and I decided the ads were better. Footy people are much more normal.

Now, if Ted Hopkins was the Wildcard in the greatest GF ever, Chris Judd was the King of Hearts in the Carlton win in Sydney.

How he clears the ball from pack situations, how he holds his feet when others are falling, how he bursts out of packs with opponents clinging to his jumper, I don’t know.

After we’d won the match by 16 points, he was interviewed on the ground. He was an interesting sight; his head was steaming,  he was still on fire.

He was amazing, and as usual I worried that we relied on him too heavily. But I think he’s just showing the boys how to win, and I think they are starting to cotton on.

Ted left footy after the GF because he couldn’t handle the adulation and pressure. I think Chris Judd is better equipped to handle these things, and I hope he is as interesting a person as Ted is, forty years after we win our flag.

Mum rang to de-brief the next day. Yes, she had watched the wedding, flicking over occasionally to get the scores. Then in a state of euphoria, she watched the Foxtel 11 pm replay.

She’s an octogenarian, goes to bed early, but not that night.

She was stuffed when she rang me the next day. I’m glad Lent was over, she had had too much of a good thing.

Carlton defeated Sydney 12.15 (87) to 10.11 (71).

Best on ground: Chris Judd, also good were Marc Murphy, Eddie Betts (all Carlton) and Josh Kennedy and Shane Mumford for Sydney.

Regards John, hope you have recovered from Friday,

Barb Smith.


  1. Barb – your lovely mother came up and introduced herself to me. I could tell immediately that she has a very sharp mind and a keen sense of what’s going on around her. She introduced herself to me after recognising me as someone she’d seen around Sacred Heart in Kew. Apparently she lives close by? She’s spot on, my kids went to that school. Very perceptive of her.

  2. John Butler says

    Barb, I also had the pleasure of meeting your mother at the lunch, though our introductions were cut short by the distractions of Ted’s autograph queue.

    It was a great day all round for Carlton folk.

  3. johnharms says

    Love the Lent line, and (especially) the Naughton line. There are quite a few Almanackers who know the Naughton family very well. ONe Jimmy Young, a Carlton supporter, wrote a book about the Naughton’s Old Boy Cricket Club. Called Any Old Eleven, it a a cult classic. Available here through the website from next week.

  4. Andrew Fithall says

    Enjoyed your article Barb.

    “Anyway, the Clyde was considered too posh for us students.” Crikey – if I read that line to a lot of my friends with whom I spent an inappropriate amount of time (and money) in that same establishment in the late ’70s, they, like me, would be wondering which Clyde you were talking about.

  5. Mick Jeffrey says

    Just quietly, how good was it to see MUD on the jumpers and the prima donnas of today having to scrap and put a little dirt on the hands for a change? Makes a change from wanting bliss all the time.

  6. johnharms says

    AF, I must ask the editor to commission a piece on the decor of Naughton’s circa 1979.

  7. I was a Naughton’s man myself.

Leave a Comment