Almanac Books: ‘Between The Flags: Making Sense of 57 Years of Heartache’.

 

The Footy Almanac welcomes  journalist and writer Ian Munro to our community of writers and readers.

 

With more than 30 years’ experience, Ian is an award winning feature and legal affairs writer and a former New York Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.   He has written for other publications such as The Sunday Age and The Sun News-Pictorial.

 

 Ian is a lifelong supporter of the Melbourne Football Club, and  has the psychological scars to prove it.

 

‘Between The Flags: Making Sense of 57 Years of Heartache’, is Ian’s account of the wilderness years between premierships for the Melbourne Football Club. The book is a result of Ian’s research into country zoning and the consequent effects it had on the Demons.

 

 

 

Country zoning and the demise of the Demons

 

 

It was the original football socialism.

 

Before the soft cap, and the salary cap, and the national draft, there was ‘country zoning’. In 1967, when the VFL carved Victoria into twelve zones and assigned one to each club, it was hoping to give weaker clubs a fairer share of the player market.

 

It did some of that, ushering in Hawthorn’s golden era from 1971-91, but mostly it failed. As League general manager Alan Schwab explained much later, country zoning meant fewer clubs than ever could aspire to win a premiership and the competition was more uneven, and predictable, than ever.

 

The role of country zoning is a key part of Ian Munro’s book examining the Demons’ wilderness years. Between The Flags – Making Sense of 50 Years of Heartache casts an unflinching eye over Melbourne Football Club’s descent from footballing powerhouse to the game’s poorhouse. The role of country zoning is part of the story, and is subject to an unparalleled examination. Melbourne’s ‘harvest’ was among the poorest of the lot.

 

Through interviews with MFC and VFL identities including Dick Seddon, Hassa Mann, the late Frank Adams, Don McLardy, Ron Joseph and Greg Miller, Munro identifies the other elements that brought the Demons undone.

 

Amateurism, complacency, the relationship with the Melbourne Cricket Club that was its greatest strength before it became an Achilles Heel, are all there and more.

 

In this ‘book of two halves’ Munro also acknowledges former coaches John Northey – ‘the man who gave the club back its self respect’ – Neale Daniher and the brilliant, but thwarted promise of Neil Balme’s 1994 team.

 

He digs in to the inside story of the fight against the merger with Hawthorn, and player imports Bernie Vince and Daniel Cross share insights into Paul Roos’ rebuild of the team from 2014.

 

Finally, former players and cheer squad members and lifelong fans reveal how they rode the emotional roller coaster of the 2021 season’s climax to the Demons’ thirteenth premiership.

 

Between The Flags is a football book of unusual scope, an unauthorised history of dark times relieved by moments of excitement and imagined glory before the real thing arrived.

 

 

The Footy Almanac will publish a two part account by Ian of his examination into country zoning and the subsequent effects it had for many VFL clubs in the coming week.

 

 

The book can be purchased from the website Here, or The Avenue Bookstore (Albert Park, Elsternwick, Richmond), and Beaumaris Books in Beaumaris.

 

Read Ian’s article in The Age about his book Here

 

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