Classic Passages 1: The Best of the Footy Almanac

By Phil Dimitriadis

“Everybody knows that you live forever, when you’ve done a line or two” Leonard Cohen

The Footy Almanac is now into its fifth year.  Many things have changed since early 2007, some have stayed the same. One constant has been the inspired, prophetic, deluded and passionate pieces that come from the writers in the book.

Please join me in reliving the ‘highlit’ reel which celebrates the best passages of literary play by Almanac scribes. Each week I will submit an eclectic, yet subjective selection of writing that will for better or worse, leave an impression on our progeny. Feel free to incorporate some of your favourite lines by going back to the future and contributing to the weekly instalment of ‘Classic Passages’.


Foreward by Paul Kelly

“Round and round we go in pure, purposeless pleasure, one ball and twenty-odd men at physical prayer in their outdoor church making the thing that none of us can make our own” p.vii


As it should be played by John Harms

“Sometimes there is as much learning in a single action as there is in years of reading and contemplation.” p.xii

“This book is about what happens on the ground. It’s about footy the way we know and love it: about its significance and its absurdity.” pxiii

“And at the start of 2007 conventional wisdom said that Freo were flag favourites….Melbourne were considered a genuine contender.” pxiii

“When the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse finally appear they are likely to be more generous than the Classified panel. Like priests in the Holy Roman Empire they peddle the falsity that the only way to football heaven is through them. They are selling indulgences. Theirs. Fans see through it. We have our own relationship with the game.”p.xiv

“Terry Wallace, reading the signs perfectly, went into self-preservation mode by taking all hope from the year, and selling the idea that the good folk of Tigerland shouldn’t expect anything until 2011.” P.xv


Melbourne versus St Kilda


Melbourne 4.3 6.3 6.5 9.8 (62)

St Kilda 2.7 7.7 11.12 13.15 (93)

“The failure of the Saints’ zone becomes a blessing. Shortly after quarter-time,

someone has yelled out, “Bugger it”, and the defensive pattern is abandoned.

They just play football instead” p.2

“Many head home early. The umpires annoy those who remain. But you

wonder how much that matters to Melbourne fans. A few dud decisions are like

a series of unfavourable tax rulings.” P.3

Kangaroos versus Collingwood

Christopher Riordan

Kangaroos 3.4 7.10 8.15 10.19 (79)

Collingwood 2.1 5.5 5.8 12.10 (82)

“As the players left the ground at half-time the Pies fans engaged in their ritual

hooting of the umpires. Instinctively. The abuse was misdirected. At that point, it

was the players who were butchering the game.” P.5

Fremantle versus Port Adelaide

Les Everett

Fremantle 8.1 10.4 14.5 16.9 (105)

Port Adelaide 3.4 6.6 16.7 19.7 (121)

Premiership betting has been reassessed. Already.” p.8

Brisbane Lions versus Hawthorn

Andrew Stafford

Brisbane Lions 2.5 5.10 6.13 9.15 (69)

Hawthorn 1.0 2.3 2.6 6.8 (44)

“Brennan has worn the dreaded “enigmatic” tag for much of his career, but

with increased fitness and confidence he looks set to stake his claim as a player of

true substance.” P.10

“Lappin looked as if he’d spent his entire layoff juggling oval balls on a circus unicycle.” P.10

Sydney versus West Coast

Cameron Noakes

Sydney 3.4 3.8 6.11 10.13 (73)

West Coast 6.0 10.2 10.6 11.8 (74)

“WHEN THE WEST COAST EAGLES LANDED at Sydney Airport they were greeted

by a large eagle mascot who was a carrying a glass dick, or crack pipe. The bird had white powder smeared on its enlarged beak. The supposed

insufflating bird – created by the ABC’s Chaser team – handed the glass dick

to West Coast star midfielder Daniel Kerr and his face split open with one

of his infamous schoolboy grins. Suddenly, his teammates were laughing at

the controversy that had curled its way through the club like smoke from

a bucket bong.” p.11

“when it comes to Australian football, possession means handballing or kicking the ball,

not a police arrest of someone carrying ecstasy.” p.12

“It was as if theEagles’ summer of love and discontent had inspired coach John Worsfold. Likesome spaced-out record producer in the psychedelic era, Woosha cut the tape of

his rock opera, threw the pieces in the air and made decisions according to how

the pieces fell.” P.12

“Swans coach Paul Roos is so calm you can almost smell the frankincense

burning from his box.” P13

Adelaide versus Essendon

John Origlasso

Adelaide 3.4 5.9 7.14 10.14 (74)

Essendon 5.1 8.3 12.8 16.9 (105)

“ESSENDON TRAVELLED TO AAMI Stadium for this match against Adelaide.

I travelled to the Essendon Football Club Social Club at Windy Hill. When faced with signing in, I wrote Geoff Blethyn, completing the “y”with a flourish. It’s remarkable how a 36-year-old will amuse himself.” p.14

“Essendon’s newfound leg-speed becomes apparent in the second quarter.

In Rocky 2, Rocky Balboa finds the leg-speed to overcome Apollo Creed by chasing

chickens. Sheeds, not one for chasing chickens, has drafted speed in the form

of Alwyn Davey and Leroy Jetta.” p.15

As I reach the door, one chap says to his mate: “Good win”. It is neither

question nor statement, just something that feels nice to say.

They smile, as if they’ve just signed into the social club as a bespectacled

Bomber forward.” p.16

Western Bulldogs versus Geelong

John Harms

Western Bulldogs 4.5 11.7 15.8 17.11 (113)

Geelong 5.3 7.9 8.13 13.15 (93)

“The Cats, coming off a frustrating season, were looking to win back the faith

of their troubled fans, many of whom thought Bomber Thompson was lucky to

keep his job. Reasoned judgment suggested they might scrape into the eight.” pp.16-17

“Footy can raise your spirits. It keeps you feeling young and forever-hopeful.” p.17

Carlton versus Richmond

Paul Daffey

Carlton 5.5 6.11 10.17 15.25 (115)

Richmond 5.2 10.4 13.7 15.8 (98)

“From before the bounce this contest looked like it would have some of the old spark. Setanta O’hAilpin stirred the large twilight crowd by bumping Matthew Richardson before proceedings started. O’hAilpin, lining up for only his 13th AFL game, clearly surprised

Richardson, who, after rousing himself, tucked in an arm and began playing

hoppo-bumpo. Shoulder to shoulder the pair danced, giving a gentle hint of

wilder days.” p.19

“Bryce Gibbs, just eighteen and playing in his first AFL game, came off the

bench ten minutes into the first quarter. His first possession was memorable.

It happened right in front of me. He sharked the ball off a pack at half-back and

handballed with such crispness and efficiency that few would have noticed it.

He looked like a No 1 draft pick.” pp.19-20

Next week Rounds 2 and 3 of the 2007 season.

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Phil – what a great idea revisiting these thoughts. Just as fascinating are the expectations of how teams were expected to perform in the early part of 2007. Look forward to the next instalment.

  2. John Butler says


    Love the Leonard quote.

    But are you sure he was referring to writing? :)

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Dips, it kind of reinforces how quickly things change these days. Who would have thought that the CATS would be so dominant in early 2007? Or that Sheedy and Pagan would be given the flick mid-season? Or that Bomber and Gazza would leave in the midst of a successful era with such acrimony? It doesn’t seem that long ago in pure time, but footy wise, so much happens in a 3-4 year period.

    JB, I think St Leonard may have done a few white lines in his time, but I still reckon we could use this example, from a brilliant song, in a literary context.

  4. Phil,
    Conceptually, Les Everett’s Br. Connolly piece (Rd15, pg 314) was/is magnificent. The almanac was still wondering about journalistic conventions etc and establishing multiple rules and Les threw them all out. Funny, timely, excellent.
    May I also say amongst the McAvaneyish gush of the Selwood site today that p300 (unfortunately edited from its draft excesses) does still declare Joel Selwood the gun after what I thought was the game of the season (v. Pies).

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