Almanac Lunches: Footy Almanac Grand Final Eve Lunch Review



What another cracking event the Footy Almanac Grand Final Eve Lunch turned out to be!



Stan and Tony working on the cryptic on the train



With my mates Tony Forbes and Stan Kluzek we caught the early morning train from Colac for the ‘big smoke’. We worked hard at the Age cryptic crossword during the journey and managed to resolve most of the clues by the time we arrived at Southern Cross station. The cryptic was bit of a stinker but kept us occupied.


A welcome coffee, a quick look at the shops in the station complex, and except for Tony, managed to resist the temptation of impulse purchases.


At the Royal Melbourne Hotel we met up with an old work mate of Tony’s, Malcolm together with his son Michael. Also joining us on our table was an old mate of mine from teachers college Dave , and his mate Greg.



Smokie Dawson and Luke Reynolds


Kate Birrell



Swish Schwerdt and Pie Girl (Bridget)



Retrotrev (NQB – Trevor Blainey) and Vin Delahunty



Dips O’Donnell and Peter Flynn



David Turner and his mate Greg



As is usual with these events it is great to catch with old Footy Almanac  friends, make new friends, and in some cases finally put faces to familiar names. It quickly becomes apparent the Footy Almanac is one large family made up of like-minded people with similar interests and pursuits.



John Harms deep in thought



John Harms, as the spiritual head of the Footy Almanac family, exemplifies the proficiency of an ideal MC leading participants through the event’s journey in an excellent manner, displaying good humour and wit,  and of course an intelligent and  articulate interviewer of the special guests.


In the lead up to lunch served and breaks during courses, John introduced and interviewed the many special guests he had lined up for the afternoon.



The footy year that was with Matthew Quartermaine



This annual lunch has become a tradition over time for footy fans,  many segments of the lunch have created their own tradition such as comedian Matthew Quartermaine and his yearly review or rant of the footy season that was. This year his focus was on the year his beloved West Coast Eagles experienced. We smiled as Matt lived through the despair of a footy tragic suffering a terrible season.



Murray Bird



From Murray Bird, Queensland’s first AFL umpire,  John was able to extract an interesting account of why Greg Williams was unlucky not to win the 1993 Brownlow Medal, and many other memorable stories from across his many careers involved with football in Queensland. Check out Murray’s AFL Queensland Hall Of Fame entry, certainly is an illustrious one.



Patrick Skene and John Harms



Patrick Skene answered questions from John about the history of Chinese involvement in Aussie Rules football in relation to his recently released book ‘Celestial Footy: The Story of Chinese Heritage Aussie Rules’. Patrick’s responses were powerful and informative bringing to the audience an awareness I’m sure many of us did not have about this important aspect of our footy history. An amusing anecdote about now TV personality Sam Pang and his footy background in relation to his Chinese heritage brought a smile or two on listeners faces.   I was very impressed by Patrick’s authoritative and enlightening responses to  John’s questioning. Footy Almanac stalwart Citrus Bob Utber wrote a review of Patrick’s book for our site recently which can be read Here.



Tom Petsinis and John Harms



Tom Petsinis, poet, playwright, and novelist, who happens to also be Peter Diacos’s first cousin provided an excellent insight into growing up in Fitzroy, playing footy, the Daicos family, and all told through his poetry and excerpts from his novels in response to questioning from John. Tom blames his father for Peter Daicos becoming a Collingwood footballer when he should have been a Fitzroy player. Peter’s dad followed the advice offered by Tom’s dad the Daicos family needed a bigger house and should move to Collingwood where there were plenty on offer. And, as they say, the rest is history!  For more information about Tom Petsinis check out his website.



ER and Brett Dutschke provide the weather forecast


Another tradition is predicting the weather forecast for the match and this is ably done, with some humour, by two professional meteorologists in Dr David Wilson better known to Footy Almanac supporters as ER. David representing the Bureau of Meteorology, and Brett Dutschke Senior Meteorologist from Weatherzone. Who would believe delivering a weather forecast could be so amusing but it was – well done ER and Brett.



Jo and Anthony Daniher respond to a question about son Joe from John Harms


Jo and Anthony Daniher have been a part of these lunches for many years now and this year is especially significant to them with son Joe playing for Brisbane in the Grand Final. A tradition at the lunches is to invite parents of selected players from Grand Final teams for interview by John. John with his deep, probing questions always generates enlightening tales from the parents of their son’s journey along the way to becoming an AFL player. For the audience to be privy to such information and details about the upbringing of an AFL footballer allows a better understanding and appreciation of those players, and with the Danihers it was no exception. Thanks Jo and Anthony for willingly sharing so much about your talented son Joe, it was most informative.















The raffles and the auctions had patrons digging deeply into their pockets, and all for a good cause of course. The lunch is one of the major fundraisers for the Footy Almanac and enables the continuation of this fantastic organisation.



Limited edition print of ‘Richo’ by Jim Pavlidis was one of many prizes



Check shirt selection carefully before leaving home!



After the formalities were over there was time for catching up and chatting with new friends and old, unfortunately I was unable to catch up with everyone I wanted to but next year I will.


Tony, Stan, and myself made our way to Southern Cross station and caught the 7pm train home to Colac. Although we all nodded off at various stages during the trip fortunately we were awake by the time the train rolled in to Colac.


We all agreed we’d had a fantastic day!



All photos 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. roger lowrey says

    What a great account of the big day Col. Vicarious pleasure in trumps for one not there mate.

    From the “in the moment” pic of the cryptic crossword challenge to the assorted pics and activities of the day right through to the sleepy boys’ trip home, a beautiful confluence of a photographic and narrative tour de force.

    Mind you, I trust this all this excitement didn’t preclude your comrades taking in a few admiring moments of the old Winchelsea railway station surrounds. As a young lad it was the site of my first view of one of those massive old “royal blue with yellow epaulettes and cap” VR diesel locos making me feel so tiny as it glided majestically along the platform in silence with the driver and station master effortlessly exchanging the staff hoops and railway banter just before my first train ride

    Sorry I couldn’t be there to share the day.


  2. Colin Ritchie says

    Thanks for the comment RDL. It certainly was a fabulous day.

  3. Outstanding Col.

    As usual!!

  4. Tony Forbes says

    Top job, Col

  5. Picking between being at the game or the wit and camaraderie of the Almanac lunch is like picking petals off a daisy. “She loves me”. “She loves me not”.
    Hard to get to GF’s from WA. There has to be some upside in being a Victorian.
    Only in 2018 was the game better. The craggy faces at the long tables look like the dining room at Pentridge. Figures.

  6. Fortunate to sit at the same table as Colin and his friends and acquaintances. What a friendly, interesting and engaging bunch of blokes. It made an already terrific afternoon even better.

  7. Well played CGR!
    Wonderful to be in that shared space again.
    Peter_B – “there has to be some upside in being a Victorian” – gold.

    I didn’t have time to go through the stats on the day, but for anyone playing along at home:
    RAINFALL for September:
    Australia – lowest on record
    Victoria – lowest on record
    NSW – second-lowest on record

    NSW – highest on record
    Victoria – highest on record
    WA – highest on record
    Australia – second-highest on record
    Tassie – second-highest on record
    SA – second-highest on record

  8. Excellent summary of a top afternoon on table 16.

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