A tale of Trans-Pacific football friendship – Spirit in St Louis


Given the GF is over in such a spectacular fashion and I’d been promising my new buddies back in St Louis they should get up and watch our premier game on the biggest stage, I hope that they either had difficulty finding the channel (Fox Soccer 2) or simply went to bed. Don’t you Tigers fans shout me down on that one – I did say spectacular and it was from both perspectives – a spectacular win and a spectacular collapse.


I’m assuming the Almanac may have fewer contributions – particularly from Ghouls (a Coodabeen acronym of sorts for GWS) along with plenty from Tiges saluting the reign of the new regime.


So to lighten the euphoria I’ll share an encounter I had in St Louis with Cmdr Jim Neumann (AME) United States Navy Retired Class of ’78 – not that he was introduced as such – just as Jim. As I had the only Aussie accent in the bar, he sauntered over and said he’d enjoyed a few stays in Orstralya in places like Townsville, Darwin and Perth which had me asking of which branch of the forces did he serve. Turns out navy avionics and he was a fighter pilot.


So we had a nice long chat about all things life, Orstralya and eventually sport, he taking a strong interest in my son Lachie’s basketball future in college where he’s made varsity as a freshman and he became even more lively about Navy in college football resulting in myself and a fellow drinking buddy, Dudley from Nashville, being invited to the Navy v Army game 12/15/19 at Lincoln Field Pennsylvania after a charity dinner on the 12/14/19 at the Missouri Athletic Club with the offer of transport via some type of plane for the 2 ½ hour flight east.


Jim had to leave for a Cardinals game and told Dave the barman to buy a beer ‘for me Aussie mate’ – I thanked him greatly and said we’d catch up, as I lined up for my next drink Dave said Cdr. Jim had left $100 for the drink. Very generous folk in St Louis; I didn’t manage to consume it all in one session as drinks are cheap in the States so it took me one and half goes at it.


We’ve been in touch a few times since my return – with his offers extended each time, including assistance for Lachie – on Friday before the Almanac lunch I texted that I was watching the Navy v Memphis game on ESPN but had to leave before the end. He responded with the following:


“I played football for the Naval Academy for my first 3 years. I left the football team when I made flight school”


“Good job/what position- I thought you may have had an involvement”


“Yes Sir. I was a running back and played against Memphis, Notre Dame, Alabama, Army and several others. I enjoyed playing football, but loved being a fighter pilot.”


‘I get the picture – ones a bit faster and a tad more dangerous”


“Roger that! I flew with all our allies. Without question, my fellow Australian fighter pilots were the best of the best. If I was still young on active duty and had a choice who to fly into combat with…it would be my Australian brothers. Cdr. Jim Naumann”



Unfortunately Memphis went on to win 35-23 after I saw a 99 yard kick return for a touch-down by the Memphis punt return while departing for lunch.


Jim is also one of the retired Blue Angel pilots and associated with a number of charities and earned his AEM working with Boeing. He sent a couple of his pics associated with his early flying days and when in Operation Desert Shield.






I’ll take him up on his offer of transport when back in town as I trust his skills; perhaps not so from another mate who’s completing his pilot’s licence here to take punters down to Tassie in Jim Buckley – now that’d be adventurous!






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A Fitzroy resident keen on local content sports and the offbeat. Community first, after the good family of course.

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