Almanac Country Footy: A nun, a book and some footy memories



Recently, an email arrived in the Almanac box from Sister Judith Geddes, expressing her interest in The Footy Jumper Book by Tim Rath and Andrew Gigacz.


A retired nun, Sister Judith lives in a unit on the  fringe of the Abbottsford Convent. She’d seen the book at the Convent and thought it would make a great present for a friend of hers. However, even though it’s a magnificent book, the $90 price tag was a bit much for her budget. She was hoping to find a discounted copy.


I emailed to say the Almanac would give her a copy, which we did. Sister Judith and I then chatted on the phone. We struck a deal that she would send me her book about Mary MacKillop’s extended family.


It was one of those brilliant phone calls that happen from time to time where she talked about everything from her career, to her order (St Joseph’s), to enjoying a tipple at The Retreat Hotel just around the corner.


Tim Rath sent Sister Judith the book and the MacKillop book A Faith-filled Family turned up at my place.


A few days later this email arrived:


Dear John


Thank you so much for sending The Footy Jumper Book which I safely received! I will present it to Lloyd tomorrow, Wednesday, at our final lunch!  Of course, I used the opportunity to look at it myself and I was amazed how interesting it was.  So here are my thoughts as I leafed through the book!


THE FOOTY JUMPER BOOK  by Tim Rath & Andrew Gigacz


In my early childhood we could climb onto our shed roof and see a quarter of the Glenferrie Oval.  You could go down at three-quarter time and get in to the footy match for free. We also lived over the road from John Peck so we felt we knew a famous footballer! (Not that he noticed us!)

As I looked through the book it seemed to reflect my life as an educator across Victoria, especially in the Western suburbs.  I would drive along Geelong Road and watch players practising below, and a trip to the beach at Williamstown saw us park near the Williamstown Seagulls Oval!

But it was in the Mallee that I discovered how important football was for the life of the Mallee towns and how it both united and divided the locals.

I was familiar with Patchewollock, Tempy and Walpeup, Underbool and Ouyen, and the ways the locals gained exercise, interest and life from supporting their local teams! For me, it was quite an education!

Later, at St Andrew’s Werribee, teachers organised an annual “Footy Day.” Students bought a special footy lunch and enjoyed games.  I   always remained loyal to Hawthorn and as I knew only four or five children followed Hawthorn, I would call Hawthorn supporters to the office and hand out chips etc supposedly from Hawthorn Football club and they would return to their classrooms in delight, to the envy of others!

I enjoyed the book. Tomorrow I am presenting it to Lloyd, our Archivist, a former AFL Goal Umpire who looks after our little footy tipping comp for our Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre. Unfortunately I can never tip against Hawthorn so I am not going to win in the near future.

Thank you so much… Lloyd will greatly appreciate this book and read every word!

I am most obliged for your generosity, John, and thank you again.  Will forward a photo.



Sr Judith Geddes


Sister Geddes presenting Lloyd with The Footy Jumper Book.



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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Happy Christmas. Lovely story

  2. The God of Small Things. Sublime.

  3. Hayden Kelly says

    Heartwarming story .Even nuns follow the footy lol .My favorite teacher ever was Sister Dominic .She taught me at Saint Michaels Wycheproof prep ,grades 1 and 2 . Loved her footy and was always keen to engage in footy banter as her brother Bob Vagg [not to be confused with Barry ] played a handful of games at Hawthorn . he had been recruited from Echuca after winning the Michelson Medal in the Bendigo league .He returned to Echuca and played over 200 games with them .
    Monday morning in winter the 1st 15 minutes of her classes were devoted to ‘let’s talk about the footy before we start ‘

  4. Thanks for this JTH, what a wonderful story. And not just because Sister Judith clearly knows her footy as evidenced by the team she supports.

    I don’t know if she is a Good Shepherd nun but mention of living in a unit near the Abbotsford Convent got my attention. My Aunt Mary, the last remaining sibling in my father’s family, recently celebrated 65 years as a Sister of the Good Shepherd congregation. She lived in a GS Unit across from the Convent for many years before moving into the GS aged care home on Clarke St at the Covent. Small world. And AM is a Hawks supporter as well.


  5. Love it JTH.
    Good news, good news, hear ye! hear ye!

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