Almanac (Footy) Life: Pie Boy – a kid takes his chance





1970 Round 1, MCG 9:15am. Caterers entrance near the Punt Rd end.


All the kids line up to be Pie Boys. I’m 14 and look 11. I’m nervous because some of my school mates did it last year and it sounds cool.


Last year’s names get called out; most have rolled up. We have been lined up for 15 minutes against the wall and the slight curve is fun but it is cold. The cranky old biddy calls out ‘Peter Steele?’ My mate whispers, ‘He isn’t here.’ I say ‘Here’. She didn’t like the look of me, but couldn’t tell I wasn’t Steele.


I was given the new non-drinking section where no-one went. I’d be lucky to sell two dozen.


You troop in and unload the 4’n’20s into ovens in some scary tomb under the stands from about 9:15, then go and get your coat, wooden cart, sauce and cap.


By 11:30 the Reserves are starting after the Under 19s and you pack your first dozen into the 4’n’20 paper bags and load the box. Pies are barely warm but you hit the stands.


You sell and return, get another dozen and rush back. At quarter times you each have a spot of your own in the walkway. It gets willing on big days. Your final load is just before halftime in the Seniors, then cash out by the start of the 3rd quarter and watch the rest of the game. You were given one pie.


You’d get robbed occasionally making change, often doused in sauce, and your pies were sometimes pinched. But never all of them. It was hard and you had to take it on the chin. They sold for 22 cents at the time. We got 2 cents. A pack of 6 cold pies was 45 cents at Kmart Burwood IIRC. The old women from Dennis Catering who did nothing except smoke and give you greasy looks, swore if you got assaulted. They were all from Richmond.


Three or four times I didn’t make the 11 cent train fare back home. I got in fights with other Pie boys who knew I wasn’t Peter Steele. All part of the action.


Being in the forward pocket, I was close to many highlights. I saw Leigh Matthews, Tuddy (who was enormously tough) and Huddo being punched and punching back. I saw a lot of my Demons, which was the main bonus, but not many showed up for them.


The old stand was three tiers high and one day at Melbourne v Carlton, doing my rounds way up top where the new scoreboard is now, there was only one person. It was Ron Barassi on the fence talking on a walkie talkie to his assistants.


My Hero! He wasn’t a traitor, he was a Rebel!  He was very busy.


I walked right down next to him and screamed “HOT PIIIYIES” to get his attention. He leapt about four feet, teeth clenched and screamed at me, ‘PISS OFF KID!’ I’m lucky he didn’t sauce me.


Grand Final day 1970, Collingwood v Carlton, 120,000 attended. I’d had a good finals season, often making $5.


Just before half time when we got our last load, I insisted on four dozen to sell. I sold them quickly, then walked across past the Punt Rd end goals, and the crowd in the Standing Room parted till I got to the fence.


I sold the box for $5 or $10 to some guy to stand on. I sold my 4’n’20 coat and narrow cap saying, ‘You can get to the front of Standing Room with it on, for $5.’


I never went back. I was worth a million in 20 cent pieces. Then I pushed back down the front near Bay 13, well away from the non-drinking area, just as Teddy Hopkins came on as the 19th man. I met Ted 12 years later at his wine bar “Hippos” in Albury.


I hope that prick Peter Steele showed up Round 1 in 1971, looking for a gig. He was in trouble.


To read Bridget Schwerdt’s story of life as a Pie Girl click HERE.



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  1. Daryl Schramm says

    Love it!

  2. Great story Damien. Clearly a worldly young genius at work. A hint of Oliver Twist in all of this. Reminds me of first visiting Victoria Park (coincidentally in 1970 or 1971). And welcome to the Almanac too.

  3. Fabulous Damien. Don’t tell me, you’re a billionaire tycoon now??

    Love the enterprise. Not many people have scared Ron Barassi!!

    I wanted to be a pie kid but could never get to the games early enough. And I did get put off by the working conditions of the pie kids at Arden Street. I just wanted to wear that coat

  4. Love this story.

  5. Hayden Kelly says

    So funny Damien
    great read

  6. Lovely story, Damien

  7. Mark Poustie says

    Great story Damien . Love your approach to Barassi and his response. Also I can only wonder where the entrepeneurial skills you so aptly demonstrated at the 70 GF ( I’m going to sell everything ), led to.

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