AFL Round 6 – Sydney v Brisbane: Footy and family – life is good

By David Williams

It’s Round 6 and both Fitzroy and South Melbourne are highly fancied for the 1944 flag. Fluctuating form makes it difficult to forecast the winner. Fitzroy has strengthened its line-up with the inclusion of Claude Curtain and Noel Price. They’ve been up north for 18 months engaged in the war effort. They’ll receive a rousing reception from the Fitzroy faithful on their return to the Brunswick Street Oval.

Local butcher Eric has grown up in Fitzroy and is an ardent Roy Boy. He gets the nod from his older brother to abscond from work to attend the big game. Eric’s daughter is just 6 years old, and whilst she’s developing a fondness for the footy, she remains reticent about the journey down Nicholson Street precariously perched on the handle bars of Eric’s push bike. It’s only a mile or thereabouts from the butcher shop to the ground, but it’s neither the safest nor most comfortable of adventures.

It’s war time. And being absorbed in the footy affords a welcome distraction from the worry of loved ones in dangerous far-flung places and the week to week challenge of keeping the family clothed and fed under a regime of rationing. Assisted by the errant kicking of South Melbourne, Fitzroy is the victor by 14 points. The bike ride home for Eric and his daughter is jaunty; propelled along by the afternoon’s triumph. For today at least, life is good.

Fast forward 69 years and I’m off to the Swans and Lions clash with my own 6 year old daughter; coincidentally Round 6 again. Unlike my grandfather and mum in ’44, we are proudly wearing the red and white of the Swans. Of more stark contrast is that the clubs competing today have Sydney and Brisbane as their home territories. Much has changed on the footy landscape.

My daughter is very excited about going to the footy. My mind turns to Jed Lamb who will make his AFL debut for Sydney today. As a 6 year old he arrived home from school to the news that his father was dead. Later it would become apparent that he’d been brutally murdered by a drinking mate. In the lead up to Jed Lamb’s first game Swans coach John Longmire has lauded his resilience. I look across at my perky and carefree 6 year old, and can only think that Jed’s junior years must have presented many challenges. I hope that today is a truly memorable one for he and his family. I spot former Essendon champ Mark McVeigh outside the ground, bringing family to the forefront of my mind again. He’s there for his brother’s 200th game. It’s a proud day for the McVeigh family too – a family that has recently had its own share of life changing challenges.

The Lions are the first to enter the SCG. Their flimsy banner, being held up by a couple of well fed blokes in replica Fitzroy jumpers, rips straight down the middle. It takes me back to the old days at the Junction Oval when the Roys’ cheer squad on a shoestring budget was always dwarfed by the impressive run-throughs of the dominant clubs. The slightly modified Fitzroy theme song blares out as the Brisbane players tip toe through the gaping hole in the banner. As I try hard not to sing along, I remind myself that “it wasn’t a merger, it was a takeover”. Thankfully the sight of Michael Voss provides the ultimate remedy for any old Fitzroy pangs that may be re-emerging. His swagger and patent smugness are anything but Fitzroy.

A dominant Swans midfield sets the tone in the first quarter. Their desire for the footy and willingness to work hard for each other provides many scoring opportunities. Talented young forward Sam Reid is able to find the touch that has so far eluded him this season. A succession of goals sees the Swans with a lead of 40 points at the first break; the damage is done. The Lions provide a stronger contest for the remainder of the game, but they are unable to match the intensity in the clinches of Hannebery, Jack, McVeigh, and Kennedy. Jed Lamb’s first kick in the big time spears onto the chest of Jude Bolton near goal – a goal assist being a great way for Lamb to respond to the warm welcome from the SCG crowd just minutes before. A rejuvenated Jetta and a seemingly eternal Goodes provide some exciting finishing touches, and the Swans complete an impressive ten goal win.

The Lamb and McVeigh families will be happy with how the day’s events have unfolded.

We settle in for the long bus trip through the Sydney suburbs and I ponder my mum’s bike ride home along Brunswick Street. Today has been a day to rekindle and reflect on our important family tradition of going to the footy. And for today (like most days), life is good.

SYDNEY  17.13 (115)
BRISBANE  8.7 (55)

Sydney – 
Reid 3; Goodes, Bolton, Jetta, Pyke 2; McGlynn, Hannebery, Kennedy, McVeigh, Parker, O’Keefe.
Brisbane – Green 2; Zorko, Brown, Redden, Leuenberger, Hanley, Lester.

Sydney –
 Hannebery, Jack, Kennedy, McVeigh, Pyke, Goodes.
Brisbane – Redden, Hanley, Lester, Rockliff.

Umpires: Troy Pannell, Jeff Dalgleish, Jacob Mollison.
Official Crowd: 23,315 at SCG.



About Arma

Much-maligned footy banterer


  1. Adrian King says

    Footy and family go together so well. My best footy memories revolve around time spent watching my team run around in the company of my Dad and my brother. Now, though Dad has passed on, the tradition continues as my two nieces join my brother and me as we cheer on our boys. Yep, footy and family. What a great combination.

  2. Stephen Cooke says


  3. mickey randall says

    Lovely piece. Great blend of the past and the present, and how footy and family connect.

  4. PeterSchumacher says

    I think that family involvement and interest in the game is of paramount importance in enjoying a game. You have captured the mood perfectly.

  5. David Downer says


    You had me at “Claude Curtain”.

    Concur with above comment, “delightful”.

    Footy is one of those significant ties that bind for so many families.

    Nice elbow jab to M.Voss also!

    Your maroon bloodlines run deep.

  6. Paul Magee says

    Great writing and terrific sentiment in the story. Very eloquent.

    BTW I believe that the Brisbane players TRIPPED through the torn and tattered banner (not tiptoed) and this could have been the reason behind the slow start in the first quarter.

  7. Tony Colombo says

    As always a cracking read, your right about the game bringing people together, the absolute treasure in all this is, you and your daughter will never forget these moments. Bravo I say.

  8. Peter Fuller says

    Lovely to hear a family reminiscence like this David, and you showed a gift for timing, by saving the family connection until the final lines. Are you aware that Claude Curtin was the nephew of the wartime Prime Minister?

  9. Neil McLean says

    This is bloody good.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the read.

    Like your research.

  10. Campbell MacKintosh says

    Thank you David. Very engaging and insightful. The correlation between family and the history of our great game was portrayed brilliantly.

    It is a crying shame that the Fitzroy history and culture has been lost in the takeover of the FFC by Brisbane. The contrast is the strong retention and enforcement of the Bloods culture of South Melbourne for all to see at the Sydney Swans.

  11. Ripper piece Arma. Thoroughly drawn in by your approach and the blend of past and present.

  12. Gorgeous piece. Thanks David. You encapsulated a sentiment where the temptation is always to “lay it on with a trowel”.
    The Lambs (and the Pickles) had me back on Cloudstreet.

  13. Yeah, what they all said, Arma. Fantastic piece.

  14. Ron Wilson says

    Great article David with some poignant memories. Family and football truly go together and some of my happiest memories are going to the football with my late Dad.

    One further observation not related to David’s article but to a broader myth. While the Sydney Swans are 100% South Melbourne not so with Brisbane and Fitzroy. Fitzroy was executed by the AFL in 1996 and there was no fairy tale relocation to Brisbane. History (even football) must be reported accurately and not conveniently.

    Looking forward to your next yarn.

  15. Thanks to all for your comments.
    It’s great to see that it has resonated – your thoughts and comments are much appreciated!

  16. Great work David.
    I remember only great things fo your Mum, and Nan and Pop , and can imagine that journey down Brunswick street.
    Good to see the family tradition of footy goes on, you keep doing for the Swans in Sydney, and I will down here in Melbourne.

  17. ripping piece DW…. well written, funny, emotional and all in all a great read

  18. Peter Shanahan says

    An excellent little vignet David, I just read it again and it reminded me of how much I miss the footy in the summer. I am a Crows member with my now 18 year old son and 16 year old daughter, we have been going to the footy together for about 12 years. I can’t wait for next season – a new era at the Adelaide Oval – come over and watch your Swannies get belted, I will even buy you a West End Draught or a Coopers. Cheers.

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