Almanac Book Review: ‘Fitzroy’s Fabulous Century: the 100 Greatest Victories 1897-1996.’

 

 

I can think of a couple of VFL/AFL clubs that could have a book written about their worst one hundred games and moments over the first century of the competition, most notably St.Kilda and the Pies.  Ah, such tragedy, and, in the case of the Pies, such hubris too.  With such an abysmal record, the Saints could never be accused of hubris.

 

Fitzroy had the worst moment possible, of course, but to focus solely on what eventually befell the club, would be a huge mistake.  The reality is that Fitzroy actually made a pretty good show of itself over the years.  Yep, some lean times, some bloody painful times, however, overall, the Roys’ history is one to look back on with plenty of pride and enjoyment.  And that’s where this book fits in.

 

Pete Carter’s written a book that’s definitely one for the true Roy believers, those who over many years never took any success for granted, instead cherished each and every sweet victory like it could be the last…until it finally was, in Round 8 1996, at the Western Oval against Fremantle.  Yep, that final hurrah is here among the Ton.

 

Carter’s comfortable in acknowledging that the ‘One Hundred Greatest’ he presents is ultimately subjective – that’s the nature of ‘best of’ lists and claims.  That said, Carter has done an excellent job of justifying his selections and pulling the whole collection together.

 

Bar the cover, the book hasn’t any photos, which for a footy publication is always risky: the writing has to be spot on, and up to the task of painting footy ‘pictures.’  To Carter’s credit, it is, his text consistently detailed enough to tell a story and immerse the reader in the particulars of glories long gone.

 

But this is not simply a book focused on a hundred matches.  Carter packs plenty of additional information – about players, the club and particular seasons – into each of the games covered, adding context and depth to all.

 

Carter’s cleverly organised the games into blocks of twenty-five, across four quarters, with each break allowing him to explore other notable Fitzroy games and moments.  For instance, ‘Half-Time’ features ‘Other Fitzroy Flags’, which covers Under-19 and Reserves flags, as well as Night Premierships.  Yep, us Roy-lovers like to recount a good Reserves (1989) or Night Premiership (1978) and Carter knows it.  The ‘Final Siren’ allows him to present some stats – Pete loves stats and runs a stats consultancy – and a personal piece on the joys and pains (mostly pains) of barracking for the Roys.

 

My only grumbles, and they are subjective, relates to the cover and the scoreboards used to close each game report.  The design on the cover is awkward and both have a heavily dated `80s feel about them – personally, I can’t stand ‘computer numerals’ like we had on the scoreboard at VFL Park back in the day.  But then, perhaps the style is intentional?  After all, the `80s were a great time to be a Royboy.

 

There’s not much appeal for the book beyond a Fitzroy readership and that’s absolutely fine.  It’s a terrific read for any Royboy, evoking many of the finest moments in the club’s rich history.  Best of all, you can dip into it at a leisurely pace, savouring one match – or a couple – at a time.

 

Pete Carter is to be congratulated for this enjoyable addition to the Fitzroy library.   Go Roys!

 

 

Please visit www.fitzroypete.com.au to read sample match reports from Fitzroy’s Fabulous Century: The 100 Greatest Victories, 1897-1996, published by Mr Smudge Books. Domestic buyers can purchase a copy for $30 (including postage) via PayPal or by emailing [email protected] for Mr Smudge Books’ bank account details. The book costs $50 for international buyers.

About Adam Muyt

Born into rugby league, found aussie rules, fell for soccer, flirts a little with union. Author of 'Maroon & Blue - recollections and tales of the Fitzroy Football Club' (Vulgar Press, 2006). Presently working on a history of postwar Dutch migrants and soccer in Australia.

Comments

  1. Thanks very much for your generous review, Adam.
    Thanks also to those Almanackers who’ve already purchased a copy and I hope you enjoy the read.
    As an end-of-the-old, start-of-the-new financial year deal, I’ve reduced the price of the book to $25 (including postage).

  2. Completely agree with Adam. Its a fabulously positive and inspiring work to read. Such a contrast to the more negative doom and gloom interpretations of Fitzroy’s history.

  3. Thanks for your wonderful endorsement of my book, Phil.
    What happened in the 1990s, culminating in the merger with Brisbane, was but one aspect of Fitzroy’s history.
    Given the overwhelming emotion of that event, its easy to forget about some of the club’s great achievements, including the eight VFL premierships (admittedly, a long time ago).
    Understandably, most of my sales have been to Fitzroyites, but I’ve been very encouraged by the interest shown from non-partisan VFL/AFL folk.
    Perhaps the most interesting such buyer was a fellow named Ken Woolfe.
    Ken was a VFL umpire who officiated in Fitzroy’s Round 11, 1958, victory over Melbourne – the day that Len and Norm Smith first coached against each other.
    Ken told me he wished he could’ve given Kevin Murray more than three Brownlow votes for his superb performance that particular day.

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