Almanac Books: ‘Half a Chicken & Chips’ – a new book from the Coodabeen Champions






When we published a book last year to mark 40 years of presenting our Saturday morning radio program, it was our first venture into print since 1990’s Big Bumper Footy Book.


As Ian ‘Covey’ Cover said at the time, “we’re just taking our books 30 years at a time.”


And we thought that would be it for another 30 years.


However, the ink was barely dry on the first print run when our publisher Michael Wilkinson from the eponymous (I’ve always wanted to use that word in an article) Wilkinson Publishing said, “good work fellas, now let’s do another one.”


Tough gig, this book caper. It felt like we were coming off a five-day break after a match in Perth as we tossed around ideas.


We’d done enough writing about ourselves and producer ‘Young’ Andy Bellairs suggested we focus on the guests we’ve interviewed over the years.


And, as long-time listeners know, the Coodabeen Champions love the obscure, quirky and low-profile products of VFL/AFL football.


We’d enjoyed many a chinwag in segments such as Trailblazers, The Other Side Of The Deal, A Foot In Both Camps and The Kids Are Alright, to name a few.


As luck would have it, Andy had archived a swag of those segments and we set about turning voice to text (just like on your mobile phones).


The result is Half A Chicken & Chips, featuring 50 of the best yarns from four decades of footy radio.


The tale behind the title is revealed by Peter Johnston, a central figure on the day that Sidey (Gary Sidebottom) missed the Geelong bus heading to the 1981 preliminary final at Waverley.


Andy goes further in his foreword to the book: “These interviews make up just a small portion of the more than 1000 different guests we’ve had on the show over the past 15 or so years.


“But they’re a good cross-section of the variety of different segments we’ve featured over that time.


“As the producer for the majority of those years, it was my great pleasure to come up with those segment ideas and, at times, my burden to follow up by tracking guests down and convincing them to come on the show – although you’d be surprised how few showed any reluctance.


“I was always amazed that not one One Game Wonder turned me down, nor one Gardiner Medallist.


“Imagine in the AFL draft you were the pick before a player who went on to be a legend of the game.


“Now imagine a radio producer calls you out of the blue to ask you to come on and celebrate that. I can’t remember anyone not hearing me out and few, if any, turned down the opportunity.


“The reason we have such a diverse back catalogue of strange segments is largely due to my desire to outdo myself every year. How do you follow up One and Two Game Wonders? Why, with lesser-known brothers of VFL/AFL champions, I suppose!


“And from there you roll onto the sacked coaches and their replacements and, of course, in tribute to our favourite Seven-Game-Swan, Torch McGee, the players who kicked a goal with their first kicks.


“Although our campaign to re-name that ‘Torching’ and elevating it to the footy lexicon wasn’t as successful as we hoped.


“And then we come to the segment names. ‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou’ isn’t something a segment on a radio footy program would usually be called, but it was on our show in 2010, springing from the wacky mind of Billy Baxter. ‘Say Hi To Your Mum For Me’ came from a song on one of Champs’ country albums and became a segment name in 2017.


“For 10 minutes on a Saturday morning in a footy season, everyone had an opportunity to tell their footy story.”


With the publication of Half A Chicken & Chips, there is a new opportunity to enjoy these stories one more time.





Buy copies of Half Chicken & Chips HERE.


Ian Cover and who knows which other Coodabeens will be our guests at the Almanac Odd Friday Lunch at the North Fitzroy Arms on August 13. More details HERE.


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE


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  1. My copy of ‘Half a chicken & chips’ arrived in the mail yesterday. Some ripping yarns to enjoy in this book.

    I remember players like Scott Morphett & Ron Watt during their brief time with Geelong. I didn’t see Scott Morphett’s sole game, though I was at the ground when Ron Watt played in the seniors. Scott Morphett is from Hay: not many players have come from there. Ron Watt’s got those Tocumwal links. Nice beaches there.

    Malcolm Greenslade had two impressive games with Richmond. Interesting hearing about Vin Waite headbutting him in a state match. Greenslade’s Richmond team mate Neil Balme certainly fixed up Vin Waite in the 1973 Grand Final.

    Neil’s brother Craig gets a story here.

    I’ve never heard of Rochford Devenish- Meares . One of the hyphens who has played at senior level. Have we picked a hyphen team on the Almanac as a novelty team?

    Chris Stone. One of the last bespectacled players to turn out on an AFL/VFL field. He was recently named on an Almanac supplementary seventeen side.

    Do yourselves a favour, and grab a copy of ‘Half a chicken & chips’.


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