Almanac Football History: A letter to Tom

Dear Mr.Harley,


I have a confession. We share a love. Yours surrounds you on a daily basis and at times must be suffocating.  Mine goes back 55 years and at times has been sorely tested. But love, is love. That Red V that symbolizes the depth of my feeling, is embedded in my being.


Today, I feel the most ‘South’ that I have in nearly four decades.


Late Sunday afternoon yesterday by the Melbourne docks felt like the homecoming of my lover, to whom I have remained faithful for all that time. And whilst she remains perpetually youthful as I have aged, she still recognized me, despite her symbolic absence for so long. She looked beyond my weary face in search of my soul. A first relationship of the heart is never truly forgotten.


She wore the same clothes that she wore when I first laid eyes on her and seemed proud to do so. Thankfully, other than for a fleeting moment when she first left me, she has kept singing ‘our’ song. Together, we still shake down the thunder.


Yesterday, she took me back to those heady days of first love. Her generous indulgence of me and those who also knew her when she lived locally, made my heart swell. Memories of that first dance came flooding back, as she embraced a crowd chant that I thought I’d never hear again: ‘South Melbourne’.


Don’t get me wrong Tom; I am a realist and I’m happy to share her. The passage of the years has re-shaped our love. Now, the joy that she has delivered from afar sits as a very comfortable counter-balance to the painful anguish that often accompanied her when our love affair was young.


It is said that there is ‘no fool like an old fool’. If she was just playing with my feelings and her heart exclusively sits a thousand kilometres north of here, then my plea will end. It’s not for me to hold her back from relationships with others, elsewhere. But I wonder, has she found a way to live and love in two places? I can offer her both undying love and the passing of an inter-generational baton within my family, but ultimately she has to want to spend meaningful time with us.


Yesterday’s joy has has triggered sentimental musings:


What if she wore those clothes every time she came to my town, just to please me?


What about the terms of endearment we once shared? She has adopted The Bloods nickname that once seemed consigned to the history of her first home, by the lake. Do I dare suggest that she takes the next step and allows me to utter ‘South’, when admiring her deeds?  She may have changed her name nearly 40 years ago, but it was never really a divorce…


‘Two Cities, One Team’. Such a dignified and respectful way to celebrate a shared love. ‘Two jumpers, One team’ as a logical extension. A symbol that will span not only cities, but generations.


Tom, from all of us down South who have known her for so long, thanks for sharing her love.







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About chris bracher

Known to stare longingly down Clarendon St still wondering how his red and white heroes ever left him, Chris Bracher's pining for his relocated team has been somewhat appeased by recent Bloods glory....but the pain never truly goes away!


  1. South Melbourne! South Melbourne!

    Go Bloods!

  2. Nice Chris. Thanks.

    So much to enjoy about this team.

    The jumper was superb. The performance was superb.

    This manifestation of The Bloods PLAY the game. Risk, and the skill that builds trust in risk, are there for all to see. Encapsulated in the quick movement of the footy.

    Expressed in the joy of that crew in the stands: the Amartey Party.

  3. Wonderful writing & expression of love. We like because – we love despite. Sitting in the cold & rain at Optus Monday night with fleeting optimism overwhelmed by frustration and despair took me back to West Torrens Eagles in the 60’s & 70’s SANFL. At least I know I’m alive. Cheer cheer.


    Really great piece. You can call the club South/Swans/Sydney/Bloods. Whatever. As long as you realise it’s the same club that was formed on 1874. No relocated club anywhere in the world has retained colours/history/on field achievements/emblem/song et al other than your club.
    7 of our Hall of Famers come from pre VFL era as do many of our listings on the club Heritage List.
    Love to talk to you off line. My email is [email protected].

    Richard Colless

  5. The Emerald Hill Chronicle says

    Thanks all for your supportive comments. The passion overflows for so many of the South brethren as a direct result of this covid-relocation. A brief indulgence in an opportunity to “remember when”. The team even trained yesterday on the Lake Oval…scene of many a thrashing when I was a kid!

    8C and persistent rain forecast for the match at Ballarat this weekend. Mud maybe?? No stopping my mob though: a 5-hour round-trip but a chance to expereince a next-level authentic footy experience with our beloved Red and White. Back to fortress KP the week after!
    Our club has been so very good in it’s recognition of its history and Im conscious of not wanting to unreasonably cajole…but if given a more regular outing, that simple red V on white ( that serves as a potent symbolic nod to SMFC) would be welcomed and passionately embraced south of the border, without diminishing the unity that we now feel with the “Northern office”!

    Richard your comments are particularly special, given your pivotal work in re-connecting with and promoting the historical ties. Thank you. I will email you under separate cover.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Superbly written Chris. The link South fans still have to their club is a great credit to the work done by the Swans in their ‘Two Cities, One Team’ approach. I hope you get your way with the two jumpers.

  7. Chris Bracher says

    Dear Luke and others
    Just hours after an announcement that confirmed the South jumper for some of the remaining Vic 2021 games, it has all turned to covid mush again.
    I feel like that long- lost lover who had returned to me was just teasing after all! She has turned on her heels and scurried away to warmer climes. The delight which we all felt whilst she was in our midst amplifies the pain of her loss once more.

  8. Jennifer Carver says

    It Will be wonderful for you to see the jumper in the finals at the G BSA. Seen a few matches this year and some of your unknown unknowns as well as your known knowns can really play football. Think their opposition for the next few weeks will really sit down to analyse them particularly the unknowns who have shown unbelievable nous for such unknown unknowns’. If you get my drift

  9. Chris Bracher says

    I get your drift Jennifer. Keeping the unknowns unknown for as long as possible is best case.
    Oh for the opportunity to keep them under wraps until the business end of the season….like Stawell Gift entrants “running dead” in the lead-up period.

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