AFL Round 20: Memories of past battles fail to deter me from seeking to share with Richmond people

Richmond’s success in the 1960s and ’70s means that I number quite a few Richmond supporters among my friends. It is Collingwood v Richmond this weekend. And not just “weekend”; it is a traditional Saturday afternoon game at the MCG.

I am not the only Australian Rules football supporter who points out that one of the joys of our game is that not only are the supporters of both teams intermingled (except the cheer squads of course – but then they should be isolated from all humans – permanently); you actively seek out friends who support the opposing team and go to the game together. Which is just what I am trying do.
In 1980 I was a third-year university student. Having spent two years at Newman College, I was now out in the blissful existence of the shared abode. I had taken the opportunity to leave the confines of Parkville and go across town to share a house in Prahran with two female home economics students from Larnook Teachers’ College (Rusden). Not only were they excellent cooks but they had a plethora of friends from their predominantly (exclusively?) female course of study who frequented our house. No wonder our home was a popular destination for my still-inner-northern-suburban-based friends. They weren’t coming to see me. And it certainly wasn’t my home cooking that was the main attraction.

I spent Grand Final Day 1980 in the same way that I spent many a Saturday around that time – travelling to a distant rural destination to attend a 21st. This particular day we were off to Warrnambool for Jenny Bourke’s party, Jenny being one of my many newly acquired friends as part of the shared-house arrangement. Collingwood had come through to the Grand Final via fifth place in the old final five system. They had been playing elimination games each week, while Richmond had finished third, won their first two finals and then enjoyed the week off.

The majority of the game we followed on the radio, with a couple of stopovers at licensed premises to view snippets. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant journey – Collingwood lost by a then-record margin for a Grand Final – with one outcome being, as a result of one of my early declarations, the consumption of my own Collingwood beanie.

Fortunately the party was good. It would have been even better if we all hadn’t decided to continue on at some distant beach and I hadn’t run out of petrol and then had to try and sleep beside a remote country road in the confines of my precious bright yellow Mini-Minor. Did I mention earlier that even with these great connections with all these fabulous women, I was still hopeless on that front? At least that meant I was the only one in the car.

One of the Richmond players that particular Grand Final day was Stephen Mount. In 1979 Stephen arrived at Queens College; the star recruit at Newman College that same year was Neale Daniher. I can’t say that I knew either of them particularly well. However, I can say that Stephen Mount is now my son’s Year 9 tutor at St Kevin’s. And he is not even Catholic.

I note that there is currently legislation in front of Parliament to remove  exemptions from discriminatory employment laws currently enjoyed by religious organisations. I say they are going the wrong way. There should be even more exemptions, and they should extend to allow parents to intervene in the selection of their child’s tutor to ensure they are not some no-good-Richmond-premiership-playing-non-Catholic scum. Stephen, if you are reading this, please don’t take it personally. It could apply equally to many from the 1980 Richmond team. Especially that bald hungry one.

Back to this week’s game. I have sent out the first email, inviting my Richmond friends to come and enjoy the game. I use that word loosely, because enjoy is a word not often used by supporters of either team when it comes to Richmond v Collingwood. Whenever they play, regardless of their relative position on the ladder, and despite any current form indicators, the lower-placed team will always have the ability to drag the opposing team down to their very-low standard of football. We have seen some shockers over the years.  So boys, I await your replies.

I can probably guess the responses: Mick will be in China on some unavoidable business trip he has conveniently scheduled (and Mick you can bring along your daughter who some years ago saw the light and converted to Collingwood); Guy will have to attend the Richmond lunch, being the convenor of the smallest coterie group ever contrived; Jack will be stuck in Sydney and probably have a Buddhist meeting to attend; Chris won’t be allowed out of the house (he will have grounded himself!); and Billyarse probably has to mules some sheep.

Come on fellas. Let’s go. It could be fun.

Then again it probably won’t be.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. Billy Arse says

    I feel cheated here I am mulsing sheep and everyone is feeling sorry for the sheep – their pain is intense but fades after a few days and then they derive benefit from the procedure. Where’s the sympathy for Tiger fans?? Our pain is equally intense it doesn’t deminish with time and there is certainly derive no benefit.

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