Almanac Memoir: I bought a Saturday Age from Bruce Doull

by Phill Goulding



25 years ago, Bruce Doull owned the Lower Plenty newsagent.

25 years ago, I became neighbours with Dips O’Donnell.

In a short time as neighbours we found we had some similarities:

Both “Micks” by birthright

Both had passion for footy, frothy beer, fair maidens ( both our wives are blonde) and frequent friendliness with flushed ferment!


Over 25 years the Dips’ family and my family have shared a lot. Many, many lengthy lunches (lasting to the next day) which have contributed to solutions of national/global significance.


There have been moments of great trust – when Dips asked if I would store his wine cellar whilst his family were doing a major renovation. No greater trust can a man show then to leave his wine to another man. Truth be known, I think he felt secure in the knowledge that the wine was under the watchful eye of Maree (my better half)!


Anyways, I digress. Many of you will be aware Dips’ dad (John) died recently. (Vale John). At times like these one’s thoughts go to a mate and his family and the enormity of the loss of a “real man”. One also thinks of the great times you have shared with your mate and his family over the years, the conversations, the connections, the experiences around the connections. Which brought back a memory or two.


Dips has been at me for a while to get into this Footy Almanac and on seeing the support for Dips through the Almanac community, I thought it time to share my favourite footy moment.


Now, back to Bruce Doull.

Bruce was my (still is my) hero. It is hard to articulate why a 10 – 18 year old would pick Bruce as his hero. Back then (the early 80s) there were quite few options. It was Carlton Prime time with the likes of MacLure, The Buzz , Johnno, Buckley, Fitzy, Hunter, Harmes etc etc.. They all had their flare, but Bruce was my man: reliable, strong, dignified and there, just there for his team. Bruce was, to me, Gallipolian! (having qualities of a soldier of Gallipoli )


One day, some 25 years ago, I went to the Newsagent in Lower Plenty to buy a lotto ticket and the weekend Age. You know when the Age was huge, and frequently referred to as “Tree full of Age”. On walking into the the shop I froze. There he stood, my hero, Bruce Doull. I said to my beloved in a soft a nervous voice: “It’s him, it’s Bruce Doull.”,


She just looked at me like I was some dill.


There was a an awkward moment or two, or even three; I plucked up the courage and walked up to the counter and bought the Age and said out loud:  “Mr Doull, you were, you are, my hero – thank you Mr Doull for all you gave me as a kid.”


My wife groaned in embarrassment. I was delighted that I had expressed myself so eloquently (my version).


That night, Maree and I were out for dinner with a few medical friends (who all happened to be Carlton supporters). Maree took great delight in telling them all of my encounter with Bruce and my proclamation of his heroism.


She was genuinely shocked by the table’s response….


They all wished they had that same moment, my favourite footy moment, to tell your childhood hero, just that.


I still have that Age.


Love ya Dips – take care mate.


  1. Great story Phill – I don’t think I would have been able to blurt it out and would have regretted it. Did you watch the driving with Sam Pang series Carlton did? The Bruce episode was great. Welcome to the Almanac.

  2. Phil – This is brilliant. Doull was a hero of mine too, and I support the Cats!

    This brought a tear to my eye because the lunches we’ve had, the discussions we’ve had, the experiences we’ve had, watching our families grow and flourish, are the marrow of life itself. And whilst you very nicely say that you happily met Frances and I 25 years ago, we joyfully say that we met Phil Goulding and Maree Brick 25 years ago; true friends and a large part of our journey through the years. I am enormously grateful for your support. One day I hope I can express my gratitude.

    Now about that wine, I’m sure I had 3 bottles of the 1996 St Henri……………………

  3. Great yarn Phill. I did that once with John Bannon after he had resigned as Premier of SA. We both happened to be at the same party and I went up and blubbered what a decent man he was, and how hard done by and how he was let down by his own party and colleagues.
    The trouble with this sort of heart felt idolatory is that it doesn’t leave the conversation anywhere to go. Sort of “have you stopped beating your wife” for celebrities.
    On rare occasions since when meeting people I admire I am much less direct and strive to find some common ground.
    I am sure Bruce and John didn’t know if we were lunatics, stalkers or fans.
    Welcome aboard.

  4. Cat from the Country says

    Nice story Phil.
    I also become tongue-tied in front of greatness.
    But I did overcome when I introduced myself to Dianna Taylor, one of The Cat’s Board when she spoke at our Rotary District confernce earlier in the year.
    Dianna was at school with my daughter.
    Dianna was lovely and entreated me to make myself known to her again when next at a Geelong do.

  5. Peter Fuller says

    I’m afraid I was more blatant than you; when Bruce had the Waterdale Road Newsagency, I made a deliberate detour to engage him in conversation. It was during a finals series, maybe ’88 and the Blues were playing on the following day. He was too polite to reject the bloke who for the price of a newspaper or magazine wanted to regale him with an ignorant opinion.

    There are legions of stories of Doully. My two favourites are:
    – Garrie Hutchinson recounted a lengthy drinking session involving a number of Carlton players, Bruce’s legendary shyness meant he was outshone conversationally (never on the field obviously) by some of the big Carlton personalities among his contemporaries. His only words recorded in the six hours were “Your shout”.
    – When Carlton were trying to induce Stephen Kernahan to come across from Adelaide, they wheeled out the big guns and asked Bruce Doull to telephone him. Sticks was disbelieving and thought it was Tony McGuinness on the line pulling his leg.

    Bruce Doull, the finest Blues’ player in my memory, and the most modest of champions.

    Peter B. we stalkers are a problem. Garrison Keillor had something useful to say about avoiding meeting one’s heroes.

  6. John Butler says

    Grand entrance Phil. Could not have picked a better subject.

    To this day I still put the prayer mat down and give thanks to Jacana FC.


  7. Phill Goulding says

    Great to be part of the Almanac family; I have the quintessential family man, John Dalton O’Donnell, to thank for the inspiration.
    A few times in life I have penned some prose, and despite me considering myself slightly dyslexic, it has not been too much of a strain when you write from the heart.
    Thanks for the directional to Sam Pang, I had missed that episode, available at: which also led me to a classic interview:

    Take care, and hug the ones you love.

  8. E.regnans says

    G’day Phill,
    That’s a Mark Waugh kind of debut. Well played.

    Good on you for saying g’day.
    The worst you could be told is to nick off.
    The best is well worth rolling the dice for, I’d say.

    Love it.

  9. Thanks for the interview link Phill!!

  10. Beautiful, Phill. Thanks

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful words Phill. Reckon Dips would be a cracking neighbour. ‘Frequent friendliness with flushed ferment’, love it!

  12. Welcome phil.

    Love the story and the reaction of your friends. Glad for you that you did it and imagine he’d be the sort of bloke to take the compliment, not disappoint.

    He was a hell of a player

    I remember being too scared to go up to a small table at a North Melbourne dinner, with only six people on it, two of whom were Ricky Ponting (and partner) and Tim Rogers from You Am I (and same). Who to talk to first!?


  13. elise biggs says

    I was too emotional to talk to my hero Syd Jackson when we met a few years ago but my husband introduced him to me, saying “This is your biggest fan and you replied to a letter she wrote to you when she was 10. She still has that letter. Thankyou”. Syd is a perfect gentleman and still my hero.

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