Almanac Footy: The Muse – what would happen if it was really a Grand Old Flag?



The cold weather is starting to set in but the Abbotts longnecks and a bowl of shank soup cure all ills. Besides it’s not really cold anymore as we have global warming, at least that’s what I told my dogs when they became stuck to a tree with their legs cocked this morning.


Enough of the weather, it’s footy season and I was musing today as to how supporters celebrate premierships which break a long drought. More importantly, how the City of Melbourne embraces it. Now there have been four drought-breaking premierships of recent times:


2005 Swannies
2007 Cats
2016 Dogs
2017 Tigers


For those of you reading this in need of a dentist, 1990 is not of recent times, hence it doesn’t get a mention.


When the Swans won in 2005 there were two distinct groups of supporters present and it wasn’t hard to tell them apart. There were those who flew in from Sydney who had bought scarves at the airport and didn’t they look grand, pity they had forgotten to remove the price tags from their scarves. Importantly there were truckloads of South Melbourne Swans rusted on supporters who had cut their teeth at the Lakeside Oval marvelling at the deeds of Bobby Skilton, Smokey Clegg, Maxie Papley, Peter Bedford, Frank Johnson, Brian McGowan and Freddie Way in pitifully under-talented sides. The red on their woollen scarves and jumpers had as a consequence of wear and tear morphed into the white to almost look like pink on a deep cream background. 73 years is a long time and they cried and embraced and I think thanked the VFL/AFL for preserving their dying club and given it a lifeline in Sydney and importantly the newbies from Sydney embraced the stalwarts. The Blood Stained Angels and the North Shore set were finally joined at the hip.


In 2007 the Cats broke a 44 year drought but frankly nobody got too excited. Jeez, I remember it was a stinking hot day and Port were pathetic, which meant the game was over at quarter time. Accordingly every non Cats supporter in Australia decided to mount an attempt on the world beer drinking record. I am sure there were great moments of euphoria for Smuggsville Cats supporters but the rest of us were so drunk we didn’t notice.


Of course I am fond of 2016 when the factory workers broke a 62 year drought. However my fondest memories are not so much about the aftermath, they are about the four weeks leading up to it when the whole of the Western Suburbs despite its diversity galvanised behind its team. On the day, the joy of those supporters who thought the greatest thing that they would ever see in football was Teddy Whitten walking down Barkly St was fantastic to behold and for the next six months the West was a place of genuine pride and happiness. Old watering holes in now trendy suburbs such as the Mona Castle,The Railway and the Station and the Vic were crowded with Bulldog supporters decked out in the colours on the Saturday night. The Whitten Oval attracted a bigger crowd on the Sunday than it was attracting on Saturday afternoons for Footscray home games.


Ah, but nobody celebrated a drought-breaking premiership better than the Tiger supporters did in 2017. Every Wayne from Wantirna converged on Swan St in Struggle Town and held a massive street party. The Swan St barber was giving supporters Dusty haircuts for a mere six stubby fee. He churned them out quicker than a ringer in a Queensland shearing shed and probably ended up with enough beer to open his own bottle shop. Tiger supporters were seen walking out of the local Liquorland with slabs over their shoulders singing ‘Oh we’re from Liquorland’. I am tipping not all those slabs were paid for but in the joy of the moment nobody cared as they chanted the Tigers great theme song over and over. I do observe that it didn’t take long for the Richmond arrogance of the 70s and 80s to creep back in and I am not sure the majority of neutral supporters would be looking forward to the Tigers winning their 4th in five years in 2021.


Now apparently in 2021 Melbourne is the ‘real deal’. Well that’s what Robbo thinks and given nobody on the universe knows more about football, mental health, concussion, bullying, drug issues, indigenous rights and sexual equality, than Robbo it must be right. The snowfield operators are reporting record numbers of chalets for hire this year as the Dees supporters have actually started to embrace their team and are attending games. It seems the 30 year rebuild at the Dees might actually be coming to fruition. Fair dinkum if they weren’t Melbourne Football Club they would have been shut down or relocated to one of the emerging football markets such as China 20 years ago.


This has caused me to muse on would happen in our fair town if the Demons broke their 57 year drought this year and delivered their supporters a ‘Grand old Flag.’ Things I think about if the Curse of Norm Smith goes the way of the Curse of the Bambino.


Would Albert St and surrounds in East Melbourne be cordoned off for a street party a la Swan St?


Would brand new Range Rovers from the leafy Eastern Suburbs converge on the area, drivers tooting their horns and generally creating havoc?


Would florid faced chaps who had inherited a fortune from their dads business turn up for the celebration dressed in their tweed jackets with leather elbow patches, brandishing bottles of Grange and waving copies of the Financial Review?


Would they be accompanied by their blue rinsed, perfectly dressed wives carrying bottles of French Champagne and picnic baskets laden with caviar and pate?


Would the sons of the florid faced chaps turn up with University chums and their western district grazier cobbers accompanied by their flirtatious well-bred fillies, brandishing six packs of craft beer produced in breweries at the foot of the Himalayas and strained through an Afghan goat herders underpants for purity?


Would an entrepreneur set up a tent selling Max Gawn beards?


Would police be despatched from the Western suburbs to far flung suburbs such as Canterbury and Ivanhoe to ensure celebrations don’t get out of hand?


What would happen on the Sunday? Where would the family day be? It wouldn’t be Casey Fields, as no Land Rover worth its salt has ever been to Casey Fields.


Surely the players would be driven down Wellington Parade to the MCG in perfectly restored vintage cars to a reception at the Long Room? Fans would wave the London Times, politely clap and in a refined manner echo the stirring chant ‘Go Dees‘.


If so, would Nathan Jones be asked to cover his tattoos before he entered the Long Room?


Would big Max get thrown out for having a sneaky Craven Cork Tip in the toilet?


Would Clayton Oliver be mistaken for a pasty faced Scottish backpacker looking for work and assigned kitchen duties?


Would Angus Brayshaw be feted for his oh so Melbourne name?


And where would Mad Monday be? Surely the Melbourne Club at the Paris end of Collins Street would relax its rules and allow guests under the age of 75 in? Would they order a consignment of jackets and ties in from Henry Bucks to enable their champions to comply with dress code requirements?


Would young Oliver again be mistaken for a backpacker and spend his day on kitchen duties and have to assist security staff to show Big Max to the gardens, where members would provide him with hand crafted imported cigars?


Would the stock exchange shut down so they could adjourn to the Melbourne Club to revel in the occasion over few snifters of cognac?


Would Kysaiah the Messiah be granted life membership of the MCC?


Would the MCC rename the Bull Ring the Petracca Pen?


Would the State Government legislate a special relief package for businesses on Bulla, Falls Creek, Hotham and Dinner Plain?


No doubt about it, a Grand old Flag would bring a whole new dimension to drought breaking premiership celebrations and our fair city would be a delightful place to be in. I wish them well .



For more Musings, click HERE.






The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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  1. A ripper of a piece. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. george smith says

    All I can say is, as a long suffering Collingwood supporter, if the miracle happens, soak up every moment, get all the WEG posters, watch all the review shows, because you never know when the chance will come again.

  3. Daryl Schramm says

    Starting to feel a bit like george and others with the Crows. 23 years and change is looking a little ominous.
    Were there two sets of supporters at the ’01 to ’04 finals?

  4. Now surely we’re aware of the last time Melbourne started a season 8-0? It wasn’t just there was no flag, there was no finals berth.

    OK, the AFL in 2021 with a final 8 is light years away from the VFL of 1965 with its final 4.

    I can concur with Drizzle on all his points of concern, however i must add that if the snow is late in 2021, with the Demons winning the flag, snow field operators would concur with Hanrahan in them ‘all being rooned.’

    PS: Good seeing mention of Fred Way. 50 years since his last VFL game.

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