AFL Grand Final: Breakfast in the park


The Carlton Four caught up with me the other morning on our regular walk/plod around Princes Park and invited me to their Annual Grand Final Bar B Q  Breakfast.

Now this is not your ordinary run of the mill breakfast in the park.  A table was selected by Michael in the dark at quarter to six, a  cloth is spread, brewed coffee is in the thermos,  chapatti sausages, avacado, tomatoes, eggs  are made ready for the barbie. Smoked salmon and small Italian rolls await the cooking.   In the meantime magnificent coffee gets the conversation going, most of it about the Carlton Footy Club and how cruelly these four have been treated over the years. This for a tragic Don, is sweet music to the ears.

One of the many people who walk around Princes Park with his dogs and knows the four well, is Ian Robinson, a one time VFL umpire.  Now a bit of history here regarding Ian. Way back in 1981 he umpired a game at Princes Park between Essendon and Carlton on August 17.   Well into time on, on this particular day,  Carlton led by 13 points and seemed to have the game won.  Carlton’s captain Mike Fitzpatrick  decided to slow the game down after taking a mark.  He wasted over a minute of time ignoring  the umpire (Robinson) who decide he had had enough. He took the ball off Fitzpatrick and gave it to Essendon’s Neale Daniher  who promptly put it through for a major. In the remaining ninety seconds of frantic action Neale kicked not one but two more goals, and the Dons triumphed by a point.

Michael, who has a memory  like a Thai elephant when it comes to Carlton football trivia,  remembers this incident like it was yesterday,  When Ian passed our happy group, the incident was mentioned to him. He remembered it well and we “replayed the  scenario” for him.  One of the four, Rob was wearing a Carlton jumper. He had the footy and walked away from umpire Ian , refusing to take his kick. I was on the mark in my Essendon strip. Eventually  Ian,  the umpire took the ball off Rob and gave it to me. The rest is history, we won by a point, and Michael is still seething!

Ian couldn’t stay to enjoy our breakfast, but that didn’t stop us from washing down this great food with  a very tasty sparkling red  and a dash or two of Chivas Regal in our coffee.

Well done Rod, Leb, Michael and Rob, a great way to start the day.  Long may you all continue your trek around the park each morning  and long may you  suffer for your beloved Carlton Football Club.

Rod Oaten.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    Your recall of that fateful distant August day draws some distressing memories for this Blueboy. I was at the match with a Bomber mate. He insists that I didn’t so much walk out of the ground, but was carried trance-like by the mass of the spectators.

    However, he also ruefully admits that Essendon’s getting out of jail that day cost them. The following week their 15 in a row came to an end against Geelong in the Waverley wet, which propelled them to an elimination final date with Fitzroy and out.
    Meanwhile the Blues sailed on victorious over the Tigers in the final round, top spot, a week off, and a 13th flag.

    However, I’m as much distressed by the fact that a distinguished chalky of long-standing has made a mathematical error. You have Essendon 13 points in arrears before Dr. I. Robinson’s gratuitous intervention. Three goals would have meant a final margin of 5 points. It was indeed a one point game, as you observe, so the margin prior to the moment of infamy of the “free kick” had to be 17 points. My highly questionable memory also challenges your claim that the Chairman of the AFL held the ball for as much as a minute – clearly an exaggeration.

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    Football is such an amazing game. Sharing the memories of those magical, significant incidents with friends is wonderful. I remember that incident when Fitzy held the ball too long .It was a gutsy call from Robbo. I remember the 15 wins in a row . It was a heck of a ride for Essendon supporters and I remember the devastation of that loss to Fitzroy and the bake Sheeds gave the players after the game. Flags in 84 and 85 washed away those gut wrenching losses we’d had though.

  3. Peter, Oops, back to the beginners’ maths class for me.

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