I convinced the old man to take me.  It’s the 1983/84 summer of cricket.  Australia versus the Windies, the formidable Windies.  Hot January.  Sunday arvo at the G.


Arriving at a packed ground just after two, the Windies innings is winding up.  Every seat is taken.  There is talk this could be a record crowd.  Dad, who isn’t much into cricket, but follows the game just to connect with me, is forced to stand at the back of the old Southern Stand, level one, amongst all the pisspots and larrikins.


He gives me the okay to scamper down the aisle to the fence.  I’m more than happy to sit on a concrete step at the bottom of the aisle in between the bays, and am small enough not to obscure anyone’s view.


Viv completes a majestic century and is greeted with polite applause from this otherwise parochial crowd.  They know greatness when they see it.  He is the King.


The Windies post an imposing total of 252 from their 50 overs.  This will be a tough chase.  The innings break follows and I race back up the aisle to check in with the old man in standing room.  There’s lots of singing and chanting by bare chested blokes in footy shorts with tinnies in hand.  Dad looks a bit out of sorts back there.  The things you do for your kids.


One of the larrikins yells out: ‘They might have Viv, but we’ve got Border.’


Then the chants begins.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


It’s a call to arms.  Hundreds join in.  I am inspired by their enthusiasm.  If this is what they’re like now, imagine what they’ll be like when he actually goes out to the middle to bat.


Border is the man.  Yallop had done his knee about two weeks ago and aside from Hoggy, who has switched states to SA, there are no Vics in this Aussie team.  Chappell and Lillee have just retired and there’s talk that Marsh might follow suit after this tri-series.


But this Allan Border is something special.  It seems that epic last wicket stand with Thommo last summer has elevated Border to legendary status.  And rightly so.  He is a fighter, a battler and according to my Channel 9 tour guide, which I have devoured over the course of this summer, he averages over 50 in Test cricket and is the only man ever to score twin 150s in a test match.  I love him.  My earliest cricket memory is his first ever test ton versus Pakistan in 78-79 (the day that Sarfraz took 7 for 1 in one spell).  I have grown up with AB.


Border is the link between the old era and the new era.  He has been around forever, but he is the future.  You can feel this.


I return to my concrete step on the fence.  The Aussie chase begins.  Fat Cat and Kepler get us off to a good start, before Baptiste claims the first wicket with the score on 62.


But this means that Border is in.  The man.  The chant starts up from our bay.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


I imagine that my old man has joined the chorus with all those hairy chested men.  It spreads from standing room all the way down our bay to my position on the fence.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


Then it spreads across to the next bays and up to the second tier of Southern. The name reverberates under that time worn rectangular roof and embeds itself in the fibre of the asbestos.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


It then leaps from the Southern to the Western and before too long, the Northern has followed suit.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


This mighty roar envelops the entire stadium.  A world record crowd chanting the name of its hero.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


The little battler emerges from the pavilion and treads onto the hallowed turf.  The chant continues as he strides all the way out to the middle.  I have never heard anything like this.  86,133 people chanting for one man.  Our great hope.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


He arrives at the wicket and takes guard.  The chant continues.  It will not grow weary.


Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]

Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]


Eldine Baptiste, a medium pacer who is the last person you think about when you think ‘Windies bowler’ is back at his mark.  He strides in off a short run and then…stumps tilt, bails fly.  He’s got one through the gate. AB is gone for a golden.


An ironic and eerie silence follows as Border takes off the gloves and commences the long and lonely walk back to the pavilion.



More from Damian Balassone can be read Here.



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About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a failed half-forward flanker who writes poetry. He is the author of 'Strange Game in a Strange Land'.


  1. matt watson says

    I remember this game. Listening on radio you could hear the Border chant.
    And then he was gone.
    Later that night the news showed vision of the crowd cheering for Border, and the delivery getting him out.
    Boom – just like that.

  2. Damian- some friends and I drove to Melbourne for a few days and like many I was excited to see AB bat. It was my first visit to the MCG. I went to the loo and heard the terrible roar. My heart sunk. As I resurfaced and returned to my friends in the (I think) Olympic Stand the scoreboard confirmed the awful news: AB had made a duck! Yes, it was the same game you’ve described so very well. I now wonder if I wasn’t in the best spot for AB’s inning, so I missed the brevity and the disappointment.

    Why aren’t variations upon ‘Bor-da [clap, clap, clap]’ still a thing?

    Thanks DB.

  3. DBalassone says

    Thanks Matt & Mickey. I was beginning to think that perhaps this event only existed in my mind. It’s great to get some verification that it occurred. Matt, how I’d love to see that footage again. I’ve asked @robelinda if he has the clip, so fingers crossed. Mickey, you picked a helluva first game to drive over for: a record crowd & IVA Richards in full flight.

  4. AB resonated in that he just gave 100 per cent every single time and after all that’s all every supporter wants – great article,DB

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful Damo. What a man AB was, the father figure to the golden generation.

    This reminds me of my early trips to the ‘G to see my hero DM Jones, was a while before I saw him make a decent score. One of my early games saw the following headline the next day- “MCG 60,000, Deano 0”

  6. DBalassone says

    Spot on Rulebook. I hate when he’s not mentioned in discussions about past greats and dismissed as captain grumpy. He rebuilt the team from the bottom up and pathed the way for Tubby, Tugga and Punter. And to average 50 in that era was phenomenal.

    Ain’t that the truth Luke. The G has seen a few famous ducks over the years. The Don even scored one there in the bodyline series (he may have redeemed himself in the second dig though).

  7. Great stuff, Damo.

    Like Matt and Mickey, I reckon I was at that match also.

    The descriptive “Bor-da (clap clap clap)” took me right back.

    AB is my favourite ever Australian cricketer.

  8. Me too Smokie. I had a soft spot for Wood and Yardley, and for the Victorians Yallop, Jones and Merv, but Border was always the man. I recommend the recent Border doco on Fox/Kayo. Very well done.

  9. Peter Warrington says

    I remember that day, it was my birthday. Kimbo gave me a classic. Had forgotten AB’s golden. Very good ODI series with Australia able to get close to the Windies, including in that classic final.

    Cranky Pete

  10. Peter Warrington says

    PS Damo… Border averaged 46 at home -and 56 away. surely that is greatness personified?

    (as much as I love Ric Ponting, his numbers are almost a complete mirror)

    also averaged 50+ against all the core countries, and almost 40 against the Windies (40 against them is 50 against everyone else)

  11. Good story
    First test ever I went too was similar.
    Boxing Day 1988, Border 100th test , was excited to watch him bat and he was out for 0 though not a Golden
    Four years later I saw him get a hundred against West Indies.

    His fielding never gets talked about, but he was gun field, safe hands and at short mid wicket he has plenty of run out scalps.

    Very humble man who can be considered a legend

    Great doco as well on Foxtel

  12. DBalassone says

    Those numbers stack up Peter. Perhaps his finest individual moment was that ‘84 tour of the Caribbean, albeit in a losing team.

    Rodney, I do remember that duck in 88/89. An almost unplayable Yorker from Curtly (just when Garner retires, they find a replacement like Curtly – those were the days!).

    He was a gun field, no doubt enhanced by this baseball background. What about that catch in 85/86 vs. the Kiwis.

  13. Peter Warrington says

    quick story that illustrates a couple of those Border points (humility and genius). early 2012 we’re coming home from Hobart, seeing PJ Harvey at the MOFO etc. the morning we’re flying home, I sit in our host Brian’s lounge room with he and my then almost 4yo daughter, we watch Fire in Babylon, mostly for me. we talk about Border, the quicks, how hard that tour was, how good AB was (up with Lara’s 99 lone stand).

    we get to the airport and Jetstar’s delayed of course. there’s the Sixers lined up (VIP), full squad, steve smith a giggling, young and new captain. they’d beaten the Hurricanes the night before. I spy Pat Farhart and remind him of our duels at Scarborough Park almost 30 years earlier. i was good but he was better – much better!

    i then look over and there’s the media crew. BJ tall. unfriendly. i’ve got Rosa with me and suddenly up next to me walks… AB! he starts talking to Rosa – who are you, do you like cricket etc etc. Nicest guy you would meet. After about 5 minutes, I’m smiling, he looks at me and says “what’s so funny?” I tell him – and her – that this is the guy we were watching on the telly that morning. she doesn’t really believe me (kids don’t really get ageing.) but he convinces her, yes that was me. I talk him up, he talks himself down. but he tells her, “yes, they really were that quick.” they call their plane, he shakes both our hands.

    she’s forgotten it. I never will. what a guy!

  14. DBalassone says

    Wow, Peter, what a story, a freakish coincidence & a beautiful memory to hold on to.

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