Almanac Footy Memoir: A Bomber Life

by Keith Richards


I’m a baby boomer, born in 1947.


I fell in to barracking for Essendon when about eight because the big kid two doors away, Noel Orr, did, and everything he said or did was holy writ.


I saved my pocket money and worked hard in other ways, such as painting our weatherboard home and the front wooden fence, and saved up 1 guinea ($2.10) and bought an Essendon jumper, so large that it hung out the bottom of my knicks and I still had it when I was married.


I had Scottish blood, and this jumper was going to last!


Inexplicably, and sacrilegiously, Jan put it in the incinerator at home after we were married.  It was retrieved before the flames devoured that special garment.


Our marriage has survived, but was threatened by that deed.


My first Essendon season’s ticket was 1957, when I was ten.


I left home at 7.30am for home games, bus down South Road to Brighton Beach or Middle Brighton, train out to Windy Hill where my seat was minded in the grandstand by Mrs Sylvia White, our housekeeper when Mum was very ill, while I weaseled my way into the rooms to talk to the players and get their autographs, then a kick with my footy on the ground at half time.


After the game, I scrounged the grandstand and filled two string bags I had made in craft at Moorabbin West State School with bottles, made a nuisance of myself in the crowded train back to Brighton, cashed the bottles in at the milk bar, and those two bags of bottles paid for my day at the footy.


These days a young kid would need 1 or 2 tonnes of drink cans !


Another of my entrepreneurial exercises was to sell, or attempt to sell, old newspapers up at the South Road bus stop, but business didn’t last long!


Interestingly, Kevin Sheedy apparently tried the same trick!


The Bombers have given me a great deal of joy, having won at least one premiership every decade of my life, except in the seventies.


Keith E Richards  OAM




  1. Thanks for the memory Keith. I share a similar story, except my sash was yellow and my first season ticket – aged 10 – was in 1950. Those autographs were gold nuggets, weren’t they? We used to climb the fence and kick a rolled up newspaper bound by twine during the break between the end of the curtin raiser and the main game, I wish I’d thought of those bottles. We might have had a real pigskin.

  2. Good memories Keith, thanks for sharing.

    My dad is a life-long Bombers fan and was 12 when he saw John Coleman make his debut for the Bombers in 1949. From that day on he was a massive Coleman fan. My dad thought Coleman was the second coming of Christ and believes it was no coincidence his initials were JC.

    The entrepreneurial ruse of his youth (to pay for his ticket into Windy Hill) was to buy pencils, cut them in two and sell them at 100% mark up, outside the Moonee Valley racecourse.

    He said the one Essendon player he’s seen since the Coleman era that he feels had the presence of JC was James Hird.

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    A Rolling Stone gathers no moss, and neither does a dedicated Bomber!

  4. Laurie Laffan says

    Grand Uncle Bill Murphy , the Moonee Ponds ice and wood merchant and fanatic Essendon supporter,and my Dad Gerard took me to Windy Hill to watch John Coleman play. I cannot pinpoint the date, but I would have been about 6.We were positioned on the fence behind the goals at the western end. J.C.dislocated his knee and was carried off. Bill was mortified. Walking home to no 2 Margaret St, which is now the clinic next to the city bound railway station at Moonee Ponds,we stopped at a pub where I was positioned behind the door,told not to move and given a large glass of raspberry and lemonade.Amazing what sticks in the memory.My St Monica’s schoolmate Pete Sheean and I also collected bottles at Windy Hill. 1/2penny each in the early 1950’s.Pete’s family were very keen Fitzroy supporters and after we moved to Glenroy, I must admit I changed my allegiance to Fitzroy as they used to take me to the footy. However I still have a soft spot for the Bombers, and reckon James Hird was one of the very best players I have ever seen. I watched him play through the juniors with my son Luke at Ainslie and you could see what was ahead for him. I sincerely hope life treats him better in the future.

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