Almanac (Demon) Life: Success is a Journey not a Destination






As a long-time Almanacker, I’ve been poised all season to pen some thoughts on this annus mirabilis. Inspired by so many Demon brethren reminiscing of late, thought it might be easiest to run a timeline from our last glorious flag!


1964         My folks, newly married, move from Brisbane to Melbourne, arriving at end of summer for Dad to start his PhD at the University of Melbourne… first day at the office he’s asked the archetype discussion starter of who he supports, answered ‘No-one… yet’. Where are you living? Blackburn. Go and watch Hawthorn then, they’re playing at Glenferrie this Saturday. [next Monday morn] So are you gonna support the Hawks? No way, they were a bunch of thugs! Well if you’re gonna be like that, you’d better go for the Dees!


And so the apocryphal tale serves to enlist two generations of Dees fans flung far and wide, Froggy Crompton’s last minute Grand Final goal affirming the decision (and allowing my oldest brother born two weeks before the Grand Final to gloat he’s part of a dwindling group that experienced a Dees flag in their lifetime!)


1968-74        I join two older brothers in 1968 in Grandview Terrace, Kew to grow up on regular Saturday arvo dashes to the MCG to catch the free final quarter, wearing my #4 Tony Sullivan guernsey but being wooed by the dazzling skills of Robbie Flower on the wing.


1975-84      Move to Brisbane and our footy feed restricted to The Winners and Sat arvo Match of the Day, neither of which tended to feature the Demonics. Took a midget of solace from Brian Wilson’s 1982 and Peter Moore’s 1984 Brownlows. In 1984, I captain the Queensland Schoolboys to its first ever national championship (undefeated) in Sydney where my old man meets St Kilda recruiting head John Beveridge on the sidelines, waxing lyrical about his son Luke and giving me a #2 Saints jumper (Robbie Elphinstone)!


1985           Return from a mixed bag Teal Cup in Perth to proceed with a planned fortnight training with the Melbourne U19s at the G, under Slug Jordan’s tutelage and Garry Lyon’s captaincy. Lyon was only 17 like me, most confident teenager I’ve ever met, daylight second. Slug just yelled out “Queenslander” to me the whole fortnight, followed mostly by “where are you running to, the surf??!!” First night we joined with the seniors’ training on the G, and Robbie Flower came up beside me on the warm-up lap to introduce himself, all class.


1986-88      Did a couple of pre-seasons with the then Brisbane Bears but with no reserves in those early Carrara years, played out a 100game career in the QAFL. Shed some tears at VFL Park with Jimmy’s tragic 15m penalty in the 1987 prelim, staying that trip at Coventry House with Qld teammate then at Collingwood, Gavin Crosisca. Was also at the 1988 GF pummelling from Hawthorn, most vivid memory Bob Ansett absolutely smashed hugging everyone he stumbled into on the concourse after the final siren!


1989-94      Period of relatively sustained success culminating in the Lyon-Schwarz twin peaks of 1994. So glad to be able to catch the Ox live in his prime in 1994, courtesy of catching up with my first coaching ‘protégé’ (Daniel ‘Norm’ Clarke, from Wests Juniors in Brisbane) who spent two seasons in the Dees’ magoos cos Stynes was already into his record-making consecutive appearances. (Clarkey went on to forge an all-star VFA/VFL career at Frankston) Another 94 highlight – getting a Go Dees! echo retort to mine from David Bridie at a Not Drowning, Waving gig on the eve of the prelim v West Coast.


1995-99      We move down to Melbourne for me to do my PhD, and first live in Kew! Sit high in the Northern Stand to watch the 1996 final round DAWKS merger thriller, pretty hungover from end of season celebrations that afternoon with EDFL Div 4 Nunawading. Hang on the fringes at the seething Masonic Hall merger meet, feel somewhat justified with my ‘No’ vote. Spend much of the 98 season completing my PhD back up in Qld but return to take up a contract in Melbourne just before the final series, secretly hoping we lost the prelim as our first son was due GF day… Ethan duly popped out at the Mercy some 250m from the G about 8pm as Crows fans sang raucously into the night!


2000-03      Now back in Brisbane and feasted on the 2000 season with regular Friday night viewing with the old man. Tried to remain incognito at the back of the Great Southern as vintage Essendon smacked us in the GF, but committed straight after to becoming the Dees’ Qld scout, under the polymath Craig Cameron, banned from most pub quiz nights cos he kept scooping the pool! Can take some belated credit for Brad Miller and then Joel McDonald over my three year stint, a real insight into the cut-throat world of AFL footy.


2004-06      A wasted period with such guns in the prime of their career (Davey, Robbo, White, Yze, Johnstone) not delivering us any meaningful finals action, but was proud to take esteemed social capital scholar Robert Putnam to his first AFL game at the G, final round 2004. Whenever in Melbourne, went with close mate Nev (RIP), as rusted-on a Dees nut as you could hope for.



Prof Robert Putnam, my older brother Michael, me and Neville Lawless, diehard Dees fan!



2007-17      Another barren decade, the nadir being the 2009 tanking debacle… continued to introduce myself to those interested as a supporter of the oldest football club on the planet, “and playing like it”. Didn’t help through this period that the Dees signed away their Lions home game to the Gabba for an inevitable belting. Grudgingly acknowledged that Roos’ defence oriented strategy was the key turning point in the club’s direction.


2018-20      Surfed the 2018 thrill-a-minute finals series, until again banging up against the Weagles. Seized on the COVID 2020 season shift to SEQld to watch alongside the Dees’-mad Earle family a random assortment of Dees showings, fuelling the idiom: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.


2021           Soon found myself in strange territory of a regular heartbeat while watching Dees’ streak. At time of writing, have to concede I’ll be onselling my barcoded GF ticket to a Perth friend’s son with Qld not moving from ‘low risk’ to ‘very low risk’ on WA Govt COVID site… my other brother quick to get ahead of the game and scoot to ‘very low risk’ Adelaide the morning after smashing the Cats. GO DEES!!!!





  1. Wonderful, Geoff!

    ‘Norm’ Clarke – now there’s a throwback! AFL recruitment (and an era of smaller lists) came at the wrong time for him. His later days in the VFL saw him play a style of footy not dissimilar to Max Gawn. Nowadays ‘the system’ would give him the opportunity to be an AFL stalwart.

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