Almanac Sports Memoir: Can you recommend any?

Fans of good sports writing like being pointed in the direction of good sporting memoir, autobiography and biography.

Do you have any recommendations?

This request comes on the back of Yvette Wroby’s piece on memoir as she readies herself for the ‘Living Footy’ session at the Williamstown Literary Festival.


‘Living Football’ with John Harms, Kerrie Soraghan and Yvette Wroby
Saturday 17th June 2017 10.30-11.30
Williamstown Literary Festival


by Yvette Wroby


In preparation for my first writer’s festival and the prospect of sitting up on stage talking about the meaning of football and life, I have been pondering the sports memoirs I have read over the years.


I especially think of writers I have met or heard about from the Footy Almanac site.

There is Sue Currie’s explosive A Mouthful of Flies which covers her experience as a remote district nurse. Among the other challenges Sue faced on a daily level, getting her dose of football news or listening to her radio when it worked was a major issue. How could she follow her beloved Pies from so far away?


James Gilchrist, in Tortured Tales of a Collingwood Tragic writes in the prologue:

“How was it that I had become so deranged as to be incapable of watching my own team compete in a Grand Final? What things had happened in my past to reduce me to this state of jabbering paralysis because of the quirks of a bouncing ball? Perhaps the answer lay somewhere in those fitful and broken years buried in the recesses of my mind, the years that still seem to hang over me like a dark cloud the ones I’ve tried not to think of too much but eventually come back to haunt me at moments like this. The ones I locked away and tried so hard to forget…”

In this book, he went back and remembered, in time for his team to beat mine in the 2010 Grand Final replay. His tortured tales had a happy ending.


I followed Angela Pippos through her life in Adelaide, Melbourne and Greece as she wrote The Goddess Advantage. Angela is an Adelaide football worshipper and has the 1997 and 1998 AFL premierships to prove it – as well as many Redlegs flags as well. The 1997 Crows victory one was over my Saints. She also has the AFLW Inaugural Premiership in 2017 to maintain her status as a ‘fully certified football tragic (subcategory; one eyed Crows fanatic)’.


There is Jan Courtin’s memoir My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans takes us through another story of a fan being so dedicated she shifted states to be closer to her football team. And then writing a book about that lifelong dedication.


And there’s the beautiful memoir from Brian Matthews A Fine and Private Place where he tells the story of his family and his own life, to be bookended by the harsh realities of the Isles of St Kilda in the New Hebrides in the prologue and the 1966 Grand Final win for the St Kilda Football Club, their fans and the locality in the last section of the book. Brian got to celebrate the 1966 Grand Final and breathe it all in.


In 2002, John Harms published his third book, Loose Men Everywhere, (now available as Play On, a sporting omnibus of his cricket and racing and football journeys). In this wondrous book, John tells of his childhood and adulthood as a long-suffering Geelong supporter. He had gone a lifetime without success, to see his Cats lose over and over in those grand finals. This book may have cleansed him of the suffering, and he and other Cats fans have gone on to enjoy 2007, 2009 (against my Saints) and 2011 victories. Geelong look set for another good year in 2017 and the Cattery in Geelong is now a community fortress to match Adelaide Oval and Subiaco.


Read more about Play On here:


Kerrie Soraghan this year published The Mighty West: The Bulldogs’ Journey from Daydream Believers to Premiership Heroes. In her blog as “The Bulldog Tragician”, she has shared her pain, suffering and joy of being a life-time Footscray to Western Bulldogs supporter. Now, she and her family and extended Doggie family have the 2016 Premiership to keep the 1954 one company. The Bulldogs win was so majestic, that there is even The Doggies Footy Almanac 2016 to keep the year alive, along with Kerrie’s own record of the last two years of improvement and victory.


Read more about The Mighty West here:


Read more about The Doggie’s Almanac here:


All these terrific stories from talented, thoughtful, creative writers, about this crazy game of ours and its place in our hearts, has me yearning for what turned out to be their happy endings.


In 2015, I followed my team St Kinda to every game while shepherding my mother Elfie through cancer treatments and through all this, I wrote Siren’s Call. My team hasn’t worked its way to glory yet, and I hope that we have the same success all these writers mentioned have had for their teams.


Read more about Siren’s Call here:


My team, football, the Footy Almanac and writing, have however, helped me navigate some deeply sad times in my life. We all go through life’s difficulties at some time or other, but I have found being on the good ship footy meant that I haven’t been suffering alone. I have been part of extended communities on a vessel larger than my middle to late aged self, paddling alone. And being on the “footy community vessel” allows a different place to play. Writing has become my new therapy and work. Footy is entertaining and distracting, joyful and frustrating, it is my family and friendship place of meaning. And so much more.


When John Harms, Kerrie Soraghan and I get up on that stage, these are the kinds of issues we will be pondering, and we would be honoured if you joined us in our contemplations.




About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Hi Yvette,

    I admire your hardworking on writing and publishing your book. You made a good milestone like other authors you mention here.

    Kerrie invited me to the festival through Facebook and I am sad I can’t attend. I wish you all the best and the event is going well.

    Our Saints are rising and reaching to the second flag in the near future, like how you have achieved.



  2. Hi Yvette

    In terms of recommendations for sports biographies……

    It’s not Australian but the Washington Posts’ David Maransis is responsible for the best sports biography I’ve ever read. Nothing comes close and I’ve read a few. The book is called “When Pride Still Mattered” It’s about the famous Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The attention to detail and the sheer volume of information about Lombardi’s life is extraordinary.

    I didn’t know a lot about the NFL but the Pulitzer Prize winning author Maransis’ book not only documents Lombardi’s remarkable life but it also explains the rise of the NFL through its formative years which fortuitously coincided with the rise of Lombardi.

    It was after reading this book that I became a big fan of the NFL and the great Green Bay Packers.

  3. Adam Fox says

    Whilst not a biography or memior as such Garrie Hutchinson’s “Best Australian Sports Writing 2003” is excellent for the inclusion of a series of columns Brent Crosswell wrote for the Age during the 80s. Both unique and insightful in terms of his take on the game.

    Just a shame he didn’t write more.

  4. Can I suggest the following:
    1. Glenn Stout (Ed), Everything they had: Sports writing from David Halberstam, Hyperion, New. York, 2008.
    2. Alan Lelchuk, Breaking Ground: Hoe Jackie Robinson changed Brooklyn, Mandel Vilar Press, Connecticut, 2015.
    3. Stephen Jay Gould, Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville, Jonathan Cape, London, 2003.
    4. Michael Rosenwalf (Ed), The silent season of a hero: The sports writing of Gay Talese, Waller & Company, New York, 2010.
    5. David W Zang, I wore Babe Ruth’s hat: Field notes from a life in sports, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 2017.
    6. The Best American Sports Essays series.

    They are all great reads!!

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks Yoshi, kind words as always. Thanks for the recommendations Youngy, Alex and Braham. Much appreciated.

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