Almanac Lunches: Neil Balme and Anson Cameron

Neil in full flight while Anson ponders his next question


What an inspiring Footy Almanac/Odd Friday Lunch with special guests football great Neil Balme, and author Anson Cameron, capably directed by MC Peter Flynn experienced by all in attendance last Friday. It was a full house at the North Fitzroy Arms, and our guest speakers were superb providing fantastic insights into the world of AFL footy.


Peter Flynn was an excellent MC.


First thing that struck me was how terrific Neil Balme looked. Obviously he has lost a lot of the weight he carried in recent years, but Neil definitely is looking fit and very healthy in his 70s.


The other thing noticeable to me was the person presented. It was not the rough and tough persona I remembered from the playing field that I expected, but  rather an articulate, intelligent, and passionate man with a great love for the game of football.


Anson responding to a question


Anson Cameron, as often in a two man act, was the perfect foil providing various scenarios for Neil to comment and elaborate upon, and it became very clear he was the perfect biographer to present Neil’s story.


Keiran Croker and friends



Peter Fuller and Ian Hauser


For those attending the lunch we were fortunate to hear many anecdotes about all aspects of Neil’s football life; from player to coach to administrator all brought to the fore by the interactions between Neil and Anson. Neil’s honesty about his career on the field, his less than successful stint as an VFL/AFL coach, and his ultimate move into football management was most enlightening. To hear Neil elaborate on the important role of the football manager particularly in providing support for players aside from their coaching needs reflected the compassion and empathy of the man and his fulfilment in his role. It was wonderful to hear this first hand account of a world many of us are in awe of and admire deeply.


Percy Jones and Gareth Andrews


Col and David Bridie


Anson Cameron’s biography of Neil Balme tells the story of the man so brilliantly and we were extremely fortunate at Friday’s lunch to hear many aspects of that story.


Anson’s biography can be purchased Here.


More photos pre-lunch.



The Wrap and Andrew Fithall,


Matt Quartermaine


Ian Lewis answering a serious question about Richmond’s finals prospects


RetroTrev pondering his next ‘Not Quite Bob’ piece



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About Colin Ritchie

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


  1. Daryl Schramm says

    Thanks for the post and the pics Col. Always good to attach a face/head to a name.

  2. Great pix & story. Looks like Pentridge FC reunion. I used to say Sinatra could “sing the phone book” and make it melodious. Anson could write it.
    Thanks Col.

  3. Thanks for this Col. I couldn’t get to the lunch so its good to get the low down.

  4. Thanks Col let’s remember the Dee’s did make a preliminary final under,Balmey also insane bad luck re injuries
    Enjoying the book in general I admit have found some errors re games and results in the redlegs part
    Great photos and have sent thru to Balmey

  5. Thanks Col. A wonderful informative lunch, wasn’t it. Special thanks to the organisers (esp JTH). Flynny as MC and quality speakers in Anson, Neil and Gareth.

    Cheers, Burkie (aka bald bloke in brown jacket)

  6. Thanks Col.
    Peter… XX.
    Rulebook, all history is approximate. Especially when you hire a fabulist to write it. (All factual errors are to be blamed on the Penguins who should have fixed them.)
    It was great day. I had a blast and I know NB did as well.

  7. Just finished reading Anson Cameron’s book on Neil Balme. Great read. Maybe my footy team needs to read it to further the idea of selflessness.
    I particularly loved this paragraph.
    “ The idea of two such outrageously sized and well known men as Neil Balme and Brendon Gale sneaking along a South Yarra street in a covert meeting brings to mind a giraffe and an elephant trying to slip out of the zoo in false beards and overcoats.”
    The imagery is just superb. Love it

    Thanks Anson

    Stan Kluzek

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