Almanac Footy History – The Galahs: encore screenings of the movie

In September 2013, I heard about the Australian Football team going to play Gaelic footy in Ireland. I remembered the story of Harry Beitzel’s first tour in 1967. I wanted to dig a bit deeper. How did that first tour come about? What happened? I did some research, and penned a piece for The Almanac:

Big H’s first pack of Galahs

Looking into this story, I had a thought – it’d make a great sports documentary! But I didn’t really know how to go about making a sports documentary. And then I saw Tony Wilson at ¾ time at the VAFA Premier Preliminary Final in September 2013. The Uni Blacks were losing, and I saw Tony listening intently to the coach addressing the Blacks. I knew that Tony had made some films. So I told him about the idea (and prevented him from listening to the coach – apologies again, Tony!). The Blacks lost that day, but the film idea took off.

Three years later, almost to the day, “The Galahs” enjoyed a sell-out premiere as part of the 65th Melbourne International Film Festival. The journey was superb. We had the perfect excuse to contact and film VFL Stars. Over the three years of filming and production, it was a privilege to meet members of the touring party. The interviews were a highlight. Bill Barrot wore his team blazer; Bob Keddie told us he was in awe of Royce hart’s skills; Ken Fraser produced his slouch hat; Hassa Mann told us great stories about E.J. Whitten at State Football Carnivals (alas, the camera was not rolling); and Norm Brown showed us some incredible slides of a side trip to Vegas! The interview of John Dugdale was a personal highlight. As the camera rolled, he was warmly laconic. When it started to rain, he supervised the building of our wet weather filming device:

Encore screenings are going to take place. The next one is 4pm next Sunday at The Lido Cinema (a stone’s throw from where Bob Keddie kicked a few for the Hawks in 1967). For details and bookings, go to The film is a great burst of 1960’s football nostalgia. We hope that you see the film, and we hope to see more people striving to preserve the history of footy.




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About Rob Heath

Rob Heath is a barrister based in Melbourne. He enjoys watching the football at Kardinia Park with his father and son. In 1999, Rob, Adrian Anderson, Peter Cullen and Jim Main complied & edited a book titled “COACH! Inspiration & Perspiration” (Information Australia, Melbourne, 2000).


  1. Frank Clarke says

    Hi Rob , brings back great memories for our family, our late father was on the back page of the paper (not sure if it was the herald or the sun, maybe the “globe”), with John Dugdale after the Galahs had a training session with local Gaelic footballers, dad was so happy to meet some of the greats of our local game.
    He always spoke of how they were just regular blokes who knew how to enjoy themselves.
    Although the Galahs won the practice matches he still believes the Irish lads could have beat them at a ‘session’ at one of the locals!

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