Almanac Lunch: The Footy Almanac Season 2024 Launch Review at the All Nations Hotel, Richmond

What do you mean, no PA?


Last Friday the traditional Footy Almanac celebration for the opening of the AFL season took place at the All Nations Hotel in Richmond.


Together with my mates Tony and Stan we caught the 7.29am train from Colac to Melbourne, so a very early start for us. As we do on these regular train trips Tony whips out The Age and it’s into the cryptic crossword. Tony is a great exponent of cryptics and has a very analytic brain, he knows how they work and it is quite amazing listening to him as he dissects and explains the clues to determine the correct answer. I’m a literal reader and find it difficult to think beyond the word on the page but, Tony has been an excellent teacher. The cryptic is soon solved then it’s onto to the other crosswords and puzzles. It is an excellent way to fill in time on this two and a half hour journey.


Coffee and cakes upon arrival, a quick look around town at some of our favourite haunts then a tram ride up Collins Street to Lennox Street in Richmond and a short walk to the pub and we are there.


Out in the open we soon felt the heat walking along Lennox Street so it was welcome relief when we reached the pub.   Settling down into a cool environment with a refreshing drink invigorated us immensly in preparation for the lunch.



Can Essendon win the premiership, some serious discussion


As always, John Harms was up to his neck finalising details for the lunch, his unflappable manner perhaps a little shaken when it became apparent there was not a PA system at the pub for Dave Warner and band, and for the speakers. Urgent requests for help from within the Almanac community and friends were called for and it wasn’t too long before the issue was remedied much to John’s relief. My Essendon footy mates, Leigh and Garry arrived shortly afterwards, and after introductions all round we claimed our seats.



Dave Warner From the Suburbs


The outside setting at the pub was shady and cool and provided an ideal environment to enjoy our function.






Matty Q and Trucker Slim



Swish and McAlmanac (Peter McConnell)





The usual suspects were there in force. Smokie, Swish, Dips, Trucker Slim, Flynny, and many others from the wonderful Almanac family. It is always a pleasure catching with these like-minded souls, and to also meet new friends.



Tony Wilson seeking some shade


John took the floor and introduced the guests, house rules, and the format for the afternoon.



Paul Noonan


Tony Durant and his much loved Fender guitar


With a quick introduction Dave Warner and band, with Paul Noonan on bass, and Tony Durant on a much loved Fender guitar, the afternoon opened with a couple of ripper footy songs that had the crowd rocking along, we could tell it was going to be a fab afternoon. Some stories from Dave related to the songs then the first course was served.


Adam Collins, an Australian cricket journalist and broadcaster and the 2020 Cricket Writers’ Club Christopher Martin-Jenkins Broadcaster of the Year awardee, and former media advisor to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and also staff member of federal treasurer Wayne Swan, was the next the guest speaker. John asked him questions related to firstly his political career then his cricket broadcasting and writing career. His insights into becoming a leading cricket commentator were captivating and appreciated by the captive audience. So many talented people involved in the upper echelons in their field yet very few of us know a great deal about them, so I will be checking out some of Adam’s podcasts etc back home.



Ricky Barham and John Harms



Yes, he really did that!


Former Collingwood great, and later National Recruiting Manager for the Sydney Swans, Ricky Barham held everyone’s attention and at times had us in stitches with his tales of the life and antics of an VFL/AFL player of his era and in particular the exploits of some of his fellow team mates. It is hard to believe the shenanigans league footballers participated in during those days  were such an acceptable part of the footy culture, it just would never happen today. Ronnie Wearmouth was the butt of many of Ricky’s good humoured stories, as was Rene Kink. Their deeds certainly brought a smile to our faces. Speaking about Adam Goodes whom he brought to Sydney, Ricky became quite emotional at times, not only for the footy ability of the man but for his humanity and the courage he faced in adversity and the manner he dealt with it. Ricky Barham has a lot of love for Adam Goodes and it showed.



Dave Warner signing books



Col and Dave


Main course served, more music from Dave Warner and band, and time to mingle and chat, buy books and music for signing by Dave and to continue the wonderful fellowship of this fantastic Almanac family.



Garry Brennan



Graham Ryan



Well done everyone!


All images CGR




More from Col Ritchie can be read Here


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Col

  2. Fantastic report and photos, Col.

    It really was an excellent lunch.

  3. Another great knock, Col.
    How did that Essendon-for-the-flag conversation end up?
    I have a friend who speaks fluent “cryptic crossword” – but as for her upright piano, I’ve never been able to pick it up.

  4. Excellent Col !

  5. Great stuff. I’m jealous. The Almanac community is amazingly eclectic, talented and generous. Almanac lunches would be one of the few reasons to ever move to Bleak City (or State in Col’s case).
    Smokie looks more like Bill Hunter every day. But please – no more current photos of past footy greats.Ricky Barham should always have dark flowing Beatles flocks tearing down the outer wing of the MCG in my mind.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Well done Col, looked like an awesome day, sorry I couldn’t get there, had a grand final to lose the next day :(

  7. A very enjoyable afternoon! Thanks Col.

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