Almanac Launched in Oxley’s Town under a Waning Gibbous Moon

by Sasha Lennon

Travelling home along Milton Road past the spot where John Oxley arguably ‘discovered’ this town some 185 years ago, I reflected on this warm November evening in West Toowong, where a northern passion for all things Aussie Rules was fully illuminated in the glow of a retreating moon.

With much aplomb, Professor Roly Sussex, with a penchant for all things feline (Cats and Lions at least), launched the Almanac with linguistic charm.  Roly reminded us, with references to soccer violence, rugby union and the Arabic language that ‘AFL’ as they call it up here, is about what happens off the field, in the terraces and in the stands, as much as it is about what happens on it.

Roly was not referring to the club politics and the scandals so readily pounced on by the press, but the simple pleasure of watching the game we love for its ‘hangers, the tackles ‘laid’, the punts dropped and the kids dreaming.

John Harms demonstrated the extent to which footy is embedded in our collective being, with his recounting of some already classic 2010 contributions, such as that which referred to the plight of Collingwood and the Greeks in a single sentence or his reading of James Gilchrist’s poem about Choco chewing gum as his Power fell in glorious battle to a superior Pies outfit.

As an explorer John Oxley was an avid writer who recounted in detail his travels and his many discoveries.  He died about 30 years before ‘footy’ was conceived.  But if he could have known our great game and seen its place in the once League-dominated metropolis that at first slowly, then with a burst of pace, sprung from his initial foray up the banks of the Brisbane River, I’d like to think he’d be inclined to write about that too.

Yes, the Ashes commence in earnest tomorrow.  But in the comforting glow of a waning November moon, I know that footy is alive and well in Brisbane.


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