Almanac Anniversary Celebrations: Citrus Bob at the MCC Library 150th Anniversary Luncheon – A minnow among the big fish




Citrus Bob with fellow Pivotonian and library volunteer Gaye Fitzpatrick  (courtesy Lynda Carroll MCC)



Minnow among the big fish


You can relax, I am not talking about the grandson’s fishing show!


Yesterday (Wednesday) I was one of the honoured guests who attended the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Melbourne Cricket Club Library.


What a day it was!


As I have suggested, I felt like a minnow among the big fish in the sporting writer’s world.


It was like  who’s who in the zoo.  Here they were in no alphabetically favouritism or batting order. Haigh, Harms,  Hay, Hess (why so many aitchs?), Coward, Saltau, Carroll, Phillips, Fitzpatrick, Webster and not forgetting Messrs Studham and Ruddell. Must thank Trevor Ruddell publicly for introducing me to Trove many years ago.  Boy, has that been a boon to research.


For me it was manna from heaven being here  Even met the legendary sports book guru and former restauranteur Geoff Slattery who has a close affinity with anything to do with sport.


I had never met Geoff Slattery but we had a mutual friend from many, many years ago a character by the name of Geoff Hyde.  Hydie and I went to Uni together. I introduced myself by saying, “you know Geoff Hyde?”  “Good lord”, he said,  “haven’s seen Hyde nor hare of him for over 30 years!”


With that bumper I was away and we discussed at length my thoughts on sporting books etc. The minnow had struck.


We will continue these discussions further.


MCC Library volunteer Gaye Fitzpatrick kindly introduced me to people in attendance.  Like all sporting organisations from grass roots to the top echelon a club relies on volunteers and the MCC Library is no inception.


There is no doubt that ‘pressing the flesh’ still gathers more weight than social media. I was in seventh heaven. Thanking Rob Hess for purchasing my humble book on the Lang Lang Football Club.


Sitting next to me was Dean Mattews.  Dean who you say?  Well he did play one game with Saint Kilda in 1995 but suggested to me that I watch out for his daughter who has been plucked by St Kilda under the father-daughter rule.  Only have to play one game with an AFL club for your daughters to be eligible.


Newest MCC committee member Kalpana Ramani and I chatted at length about the role of women in sport.  Kalpana is one of six women on the MCC committee and I wonder when the first female president of the club will be anointed.  I wait with great interest.


JTH introduced me to Roy Hay and I had a delightful conversation with the Glaswegian about aboriginal people, soccer and the lack of interest by young people in the sports history and its place in Australian society. The fact that Roy spoke with this wonderful Billy Connolly accent only added to the charm.



Utber, Hay, Harms: half forward line, front row, mid-field, law firm?


I do not hesitate to say that sport is the great equaliser and the celebration said it all.  There were people there from all walks of life who just love their sport. Mike Coward was a great choice for MC although his rich mellifluous voice has altered with age.


G.Haigh gave a passionate tribute to the library embellished with his background in libraries.  His mother was a librarian and he delighted us with the history of libraries in Victoria and their place in the social fabric of society in this state.


As one of Australia’s finest sports writers I would suggest that the MCC Library is his second home.


Half way to the airport on Skybus I was informed the plane would be late taking off (so what’s new!).  Bugger I said within hearing of other passengers I could have spent the rest of the afternoon in the Long Room listening to others talk sport.


I day to remember for this minnow in sports history and my first stopping off point whenever I go to Melbourne the Melbourne Cricket Club Library, my  favourite secret hiding space.



More stories from Citrus Bob Utber can be read Here.



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About Bob Utber

At 84 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he has always done since growing up on a small farm at Lang Lang. Talking, watching and writing sport and in recent years writing books. He lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny) and a groodle named 'Chloe on Flinders' and can be found at Deakin 27 every day.


  1. Terrific stuff CB. A day among your heroes – jealous. Good to know Mike Coward is still kicking goals and making runs. Being a Croweater by birth he was a youthful role model.
    I’ve been doing a bit of digging into the history of Swan Districts FC where Hayden Bunton Jnr is a seminal figure. Mike’s writing about him in “Red and Blue Blooded” has been a source of much pleasure.
    You bloody Victorians steal our best writers as well as our best footballers!

  2. Thank you CB, GFB for your uplifting article and sharing the magnificent photographs.
    Legends are not only created on the field, both in personnel and in places.
    What an honour to have Mike Coward as MC.
    I remember Mike’s fine cricket articles and reporting from India. He was able to capture the
    atmosphere of cricket and life there in his mellifluous tones.
    Great to see the representations of Pivotonians and members of TGTOA including JTH and GH.
    I presume Mike Sheahan and his famous cousin Paul were in attendance.
    In 1970 I listened to the late Dick Mason and Paul commentate on an ABC live TV of a Sheffield Shield Match at the MCG.
    Not only was it expert commentary but it was also a free English lesson on collective nouns.
    A quick digress and indulgence; I have just read Larrimah by Kylie Stevenson and Caroline Graham.
    Gideon Haigh’s view states that it has all the hallmarks of an Australian classic.
    I would echo Gideon’s generous review and add that it already is.
    My next tome is Les Carlyon’s ‘A Life in Words. Collected writings from Gallipoli to the Melbourne Cup.’
    I’m sure Les’s spirit is felt there.
    The wonders of Technology allow me to send this comment from The Resilient Lady, cruising towards Dubai in the Arabian Sea.
    Interesting you mention Hayden Bunton Junior, Peter.
    His uncle Cleaver is still remembered of as Mr Albury. and a Man for all Seasons.

  3. Dean Matthews says

    Was nice to see you again Bob. Look forward to catching up next time you are at the G

  4. CITRUS BOB says

    PB – I thought my essay would lure you from the couch! As far as writers go you still have “Rulebook” and your fellow scribe JOHN mentioned Cleaver Bunton who if my memory is correct Cleaver was mayor of Albury on a few occasions. Will attach the menu from lunch for you and MICKEY RANDALL on another comment.
    JOHN – one of my favourite MC work’s is “Caribbean Odyssey” (1991) with photographs by Michael Rayner. Every time I pick it up I am transported to the Windies. Thanks for your interesting comments.
    DEAN – As i said the day was a delight. yes, know doubt I will see you on Boxing day!

    PB Menu coming soon!

  5. CITRUS BOB says

    Cured hiramasa Kingfish/torched cucumber/ leche de tigre/ compressed grapefruit/ watermelon radish.

    MAIN: Grilled Hazeldene’s chicken, truffle mushroom/parsnip/pancetta pangrattato
    DESSERT – Vanilla buttermilk cake with cream cheese icing & mandarin marmalade
    Choice of 12 beverages

  6. Excellent menu CB. How was the Kingfish?

  7. MICKEY – was waiting for culinary interest to arrive! The whole meal was foodologists delight. Mind you the MCC would not dare to put anything on the table that would have some “comebacks”. Too much at stake (apologies there!). Let me know whe you are in Melbourne in 2025 and I will take you to lunch.
    The G is a great place to eat unlike the Oval Office!

  8. Great work Citrus. Interesting read.

  9. CITRUS BOB says

    DAMO – I find it much easier to write this than a “tell-all” missive that has little substance (think number 9) !
    Goodness a Port Adelaide supporter at the cricket (9.15pm our time). There must be a story there like why wasn’t he at Erin Phillips final game?
    Thanks Dips

  10. Interesting and eclectic menu CB.and Greetings from Dubai.
    Knowing the MCC some interesting wines would have been served.
    Did Domaine Epis or its nearby neighbour Hesket Estate Pinot make appearances?
    The latter won a gold medal at the recent Daylesford wine show.
    The proprietors are also 4 generations of TGTOA.
    They have Bob Gartland’s excellent collage of every Cats player.
    The venue would be suitable for an Almanackers lunch especially for nackers lliving in or visiting the Macedon ranges area.

  11. CITRUS BOB says

    JOHN – with 2 venues for Knackers at the moment it is hard to envisage anything outside North Fitzroy and Tanundra. Love to have a lunch in Mildura but……….
    Sheahan and Sheahan were not in attendance at the function, APS and Dick Mason describing Shield game – I don’t think we will ever see that again in my opinion. The ABC are hell bent on anything to do with the AFL taking precedence. Thye have definitely made it clear they want to be on the front page 366 days of the year!
    Thanks again

  12. Citrus Bob
    When next I visit Mildura and Merbein Cemetery to visit my Grandparents ,if the timing suits you, we could do lunch.
    When my friends owned Restaurant Rendezvous that was my go to place, though I would book under an assumed TGTOA player.
    ( not Leigh Colbert).
    I studied Economics and am still a student.
    In the theory of a company you learn about Monopolies, some who behave and operate benevolently, others who do the reverse.
    The AFL is a classic case.
    So is Qantas though they are oligopolists.

    Although often they take us for mugs, average nackers like ourselves can see through both their BS, their insincerity and their hubris.
    Both Gil and Goyder forget that culture starts at the top and requires cultivation, and to always remember to listen to the forgotten people and those who assisted you Gil and Dick to climb the ladder..
    Or resign before more damage is done.
    Someone of the calibre of Ian Silk would make a fine Chairman

  13. Thanks for this account of the occasion, Bob. A delight to meet you and have a blether. Just a pity that Greg de Moore did not make it. I’ve emailed him but had no reply so far. I do hope he is not under the weather and it was just work that was keeping him away. Or he is off on his travels.
    I hope your horse won this afternoon.

  14. You are certainly no minnow, Citrus!
    Sounds like you had a great day

  15. John Harms says

    Well played Citrus Bob. I really enjoyed the day – very pleased I got across for it. The MCC Library is one of the great places on the planet. I recommend it to any members, and to any researchers who might like to contact the library to arrange some time there.

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