Almanac Fiction: The Search for the Shield (Episode 1)


Episode 1: Private investigator Swifty Taylor is asked by his old footy club to help locate a missing piece of club memorabilia. The search commences. 


I was rudely awakened by a tepid sun which was peeking through the venetian blinds and right onto my face. I was in a fug, and I could not even recall who won last night’s game. I’d lost consciousness on the couch. Again. James Brayshaw’s commentary always had that effect on me. But it’s true that the bottle of Pepperjack, chased down by three fingers of Jameson Irish Whisky, had also assisted my rapid descent into the land of nod. I had just about gotten a handle on my bearings – and damn, didn’t that carpet need a once over from the Hoover – when I realized that it was actually the ringing of my phone that had ushered me back into the land of the living.


On the end of the line was an elderly voice, a little panicked. He sounded legitimate, and as he launched into his tale of woe I surmised that the proof of his bona fides could wait for later. “Is that Swifty Taylor?” he asked. When I answered in the affirmative he offered the briefest of preambles, and concluded with the words “So, we were doing a stocktake at the footy club, and we realized that the shield was missing”. I asked him to give me more information on this shield, and slowly but resolutely, he did.


It turned out that the Williamstown CYMS Football Club had had a shield made up, some time back in the early 90’s. It was a memorial to a fellow by the name of Tony Williamson who, it seems, was a committee man for the best part of thirty years. Imagine that, I thought to myself, serving selflessly for three decades. Some of those corrupt Canberra charlatans masquerading as politicians could have taken a leaf out of his book. “Cut to the chase,” I barked down the line. “Get on with it. Whaddya want from me?” I was craving another hour or two of shut eye. “Why, we want you to help us find this shield,” the old man exclaimed. “The club would be most grateful”. As a past player of the club, what could I do but acquiesce to his request? And at that moment, when I agreed to assist, I did not know whether this first timid step that I was taking was in the wrong or the right direction. I guess only time would tell.



A shield similar to the one which Swifty is searching for



My first port of call was an establishment known as the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. The penguin-suited doorman looked me up and down like I was an extra from ‘The Walking Dead’. He was the type of bloke who, if you gave him an inch, he would automatically assume he was a ruler. Although I would rather have socked him in the mouth than talk to him, I fought back the urge. “I’m here to meet a man named Walker,” I announced, as I brushed past him, getting as close as I could without ruffling his penguin feathers.


My man was in the corner of a vast room on whose walls hung every type of sailing paraphernalia imaginable, short of Alan Bond’s underpants. And I would not have been at all surprised if Bond’s bonds were stored away in some anteroom out back. “This here shield is the very model of what you are looking for,” Walker said. He was pointing at a wooden plaque above a fireplace, on which the words “International Cadets, RYCV Club Championship” were etched in gold lettering. There were smaller silver shields affixed to it, each one engraved with the names of, I assumed, various Popeye or Sinbad types who had won some sailing regatta or another. So, this was something like what I was looking for. I thanked the man and turned on my heel. A dust-up with penguin could wait for another day, perhaps when I was feeling a little more fresh.


I had two questions. The first was “Where to next?”


The second, and more important one, was “How much Jameson was left in that bottle in my lounge room?”



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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Thanks Smokie. Looking forward to this series. I could almost smell the cigar smoke! Swifty Taylor- Ha! Great name that’s both timeless and topical.

  2. The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria? I can’t say I’ve ever frequented it, nor is it likely I ever will. No, It doesn’t seem too close to Farm St Newport.

    Well Smokie, I need to follow Swifty Taylor’s hunt for the Shield. Looking forward to this epic tale may take us.


  3. I’m going to enjoy this thanks Smokie

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