Classic Passages:The Best of the Footy Almanac

By Phil Dimitriadis

Rounds 2 and 3, 2007

A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion.”
Umberto Eco

Round 2

Brisbane Lions versus St Kilda


Brisbane Lions 2.4 7.7 11.11 15.12 (102)

St Kilda 2.3 3.4 6.6 7.8 (50)
“In 2003, in league with Channel Nine and The Ubiquitous Eddie (who’d

briefly paraded the conceit that Collingwood could bring down Brisbane’s dynasty

of the early 21st century) the Lions had added this marquee match to sport’s

ballooning list of instant traditions. After two reality checks, Collingwood

prudently withdrew from the fixture and, in 2005, the AFL passed the baton to

Victoria’s next Greatish White Hope, St Kilda.” P.23

“Adcock confined the irritating Stephen Milne to one goal and a popular miss; Cro-Magnon Man Fraser Gehrig returned an appropriately piddling 0.1; and Robert Harvey’s 0.0 reminded us all of the contribution of his great-uncle Neil Harvey over two innings against Jim Laker at

Old Trafford in 1956. Pray that Robert’s impending retirement will be less churlish than Neil’s. (“Fings hain’t wot they used to be, mate!”).” P.24

Richmond versus Sydney


Richmond 1.1 5.2 10.3 11.6 (72)

Sydney 4.0 6.6 10.7 13.10 (88)

“But of course my emotions are not mine to manipulate. No, they belong to the

spiteful football gods. Richmond kick three of the next four goals, and then Joel

Bowden adds another after the half-time siren. Suddenly we’re only 10 points

down, and I spend the long break listening to the pessimistic little devil on my left

shoulder trade insults and arguments with the optimistic devil on my right.” P.26

“The optimistic devil is dancing like a mad thing, laughing his little red head off, but his pessimistic partner doesn’t concede.” P.27

“As I get out of the car my neck hurts, not from the drive, not from the footy

talkback on the radio, but from being prodded for two hours straight, just under

the ears, by a couple of tiny pitchforks.” P.27

West Coast versus Collingwood


West Coast 3.2 7.6 10.11 12.15 (87)

Collingwood 4.3 8.4 10.8 11.9 (75)

“The Judd was not the only problem for the Pies. Such is Daniel Kerr’s

standing in the game at the moment that you wouldn’t be run out of town for

claiming he is the footballing equal of his sensational skipper.” P.28

Carlton versus Geelong


Geelong 4.6 10.8 19.13 24.18 (162)

Carlton 3.2 5.6 7.9 12.12 (84)

“What unfolded was remarkable, astonishing and happily bewildering.

In a scintillating performance the Cats played magnificent, free-spirited footy,

trouncing Carlton by 78 points. Fans left rejuvenated, revitalised, hearts uplifted,

hopeful again.

And it wasn’t just the performance of the side. It was the affirmation that

Geelong’s family ties are important; that the footy club can be more than

employer and footballer can be more than the professional who hocks his

services. We need our team to mean something.” P.31

“Then Hawkins was sent on, to an almighty cheer. He is a bull of a lad with a

floppy college-boy haircut. His first lead was strong and natural, resulting in an

effortless mark. It is a good sign when a young player looks uncomplicated.” P.31

“The Geelong crowd celebrated the win, remembering the night of Tom Hawkins’ and Travis Varcoe’s debuts, and feeling blessed that the Abletts had chosen to follow their father to Geelong.” P.32

Port Adelaide versus Kangaroos


Port Adelaide 2.7 8.12 13.18 17.20 (122)

Kangaroos 3.5 7.8 11.10 15.14 (104)

“The Burgoyne brothers were devastating, weaving effortlessly through the middle,

and delivering each kick with precision into the forward line. They were so good

that one Kangaroos supporter beside us strained a smile and asked, “How many

Burgoynes is one team allowed to have?” P.34

Essendon versus Fremantle


Essendon 5.2 8.5 15.6 19.8 (122)

Fremantle 2.3 6.5 12.8 17.10 (112)

“Communication is in question here: why not a request to hurry followed by a call to play on? The use of the whistle just confuses matters and players have enough to think about.” P.36

“What the umpire is saying in a situation like this is: “I’m the important one, I’m the one people come to see.” Umpires boss Jeff Gieschen needs to have a chat to his men.” P.36

Western Bulldogs versus Adelaide


Western Bulldogs 4.1 5.2 6.5 11.6 (72)

Adelaide 4.5 8.10 14.12 16.14 (110)

“FOR SOME EASTER HAS RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE. For others it’s about camping.” P.38

“The Doggies’ neat, low, sideways chips may be effective on a Wednesday

morning at the Whitten Oval, but against an efficient and well -drilled Crows they

looked comedic. For a club built on a battler’s ethos the Bulldogs played like

millionaires. They were playing on dodgy credit.” P.38

Hawthorn versus Melbourne


Hawthorn 2.4 7.8 15.9 17.14 (116)

Melbourne 4.5 5.7 10.10 14.10 (94)


Monday afternoon: did this group of Hawthorn footballers, full-time professional sportsmen, guided by a bevy of full-time professional coaches, really spend their entire pre-season developing a game plan that made scoring almost impossible?” P.40

“Things were going so well that the young Hawks fan decided to work his magic on

the young woman sitting behind him. After revealing he was six years old, he

asked: “How old are you?”

“I’m 22,” she said.

“You only look 21,” he replied, before showing her his new footy boots.” P.41

Round 3

R I V A L R Y  R O U N D

Collingwood versus Richmond


Collingwood 2.3 4.6 11.10 17.13 (115)

Richmond 5.5 7.10 11.10 13.12 (90)


School in 1974, when my grade-two teacher asked us to stand up if we liked Elvis. I wasn’t entirely sure who Elvis was, and fancying myself as something of a rebel, I stayed in my seat when I realised that almost all of my classmates had leapt to their feet.” P.43

“Robert Walls has said more than once that Richo would kick 15 one day. He must have meant behinds. Tiger fans did their best Elvis impression and left the building when the set shot sailed wide.” P.45

Carlton versus Essendon


Carlton 2.1 8.7 15.11 18.17 (125)

Essendon 7.9 12.13 13.16 17.20 (122)

“At half-time, two Carlton fans in clothes straight out of John Howard’s

countrywear catalogue (camel leisure slacks and blue shirts) park themselves in

front of me. They can’t be expecting too much.” P.47

“Fev’s four goals for the quarter are the result of intelligent leading and

sublime kicking. He performs a jig after his second. He’s in the zone. Then he

salutes his next two as soon as the ball leaves his boot. The camel-dacks are

ecstatic. They declare a Fevolution!” P.47

Port Adelaide versus Adelaide


Port Adelaide 0.6 3.10 7.11 8.15 (63)

Adelaide 3.3 8.3 10.7 13.9 (87)

“For some players, there can be no plans. The two Burgoyne boys extracted

impossible balls from the crowded central station to often become the only

passengers on the train. These two are as good as the Judd-Kerr combination,

or for old-timers, the Voss-Black duet. They are re-inventing a jaded sport.” P.48-49

“Team confidence is such a fickle thing. Brilliant acts by an individual can open

it up; a single clanger from a teammate can close it down.” P.50

“The modern Port, not the old Magpies in the SANFL, is one of these all-or-nothing teams in the AFL: capable of glory or dust in the same bite.” P.50

“You can put anger in a bottle but confidence, like relief, is as volatile as ether.” P.50

Fremantle versus West Coast


Fremantle 1.2 4.4 8.4 11.4 (70)

West Coast 4.1 6.6 9.11 14.17 (101)

“After some very mild heckling in the first quarter, Adam Hunter, standing in front of the bench while off for a rest, turned and made an obscene grabbing-the-genitals gesture at the crowd. In the same quarter, Daniel Chick responded with a finger sign (not with his amputated digit), while at three-quarter time runner Daniel Metropolis invited a heckling fan

on to the ground.

Michael Braun dropped the f-word in accepting the Ross Glendinning Medal

and in the days after the game we heard about what had so enraged Headland.

The us-against-them mentality might galvanise the Eagles and lead to even more

success but, on the other hand, perhaps something might give.” P.52

“Fremantle stumbled out of this game one loss away from crisis point. West

Coast sauntered yet further away from community respect.” P.52

St Kilda versus Western Bulldogs


St Kilda 6.3 7.7 12.10 17.14 (116)

Western Bulldogs 2.2 3.6 6.10 9.12 (66)

“One of the few things that makes St Kilda games interesting is guessing at what stage Ball’s head is going to split open like a pinata. Maybe Rod Butterss could incorporate this into his plans to jazz up the game – the moment Ball’s noggin cracks, lollies fall from the rafters at Docklands and kids run on to the field to fill their pockets.” P.53-54

“With the result looking very much decided already, I look for other points

of interest. I notice the way Aaron Fiora breathes. His cheeks puff up so much, so

purposefully, that I can’t help wondering if he has to consciously remember to

inhale. A distraction like that may explain some of his shortcomings.” P.54

Sydney versus Brisbane Lions


Sydney 5.3 7.6 8.10 13.18 (96)

Brisbane Lions 4.3 7.4 10.8 10.9 (69)

“Over the Easter round, in which the Swans played Richmond, Barry Hall had

also seemed doomed to cruciate crucifixion. However, like the man who might

have forced Peter Hudson out to centre half-forward, Bazza rose immediately

from the dead and smote the Lions.” P.56

“My limbs felt heavy on the walk to Collins Street, and the tram was late, crowded and slow – at four o’clock on a Sunday!

You notice the mundane, irritating details of the ride home after a loss that

might have been a great win.” P.58

Melbourne versus Geelong


Melbourne 2.1 4.4 5.9 8.9 (57)

Geelong 5.8 11.8 14.10 15.19 (109)

“At that point the mood changed. Strangely, Hawkins was called to the

interchange bench. While some fans clapped affectionately, many were

disappointed. In section M55 at the Punt Road end they were disgusted.

“You’re kidding,” one Cat screamed. “Let the kid play. Let him enjoy himself.

He’s a footballer: let him play football.”

It seemed typical of modern sport: always preparing for the ’morrow. Here

was a moment of fair-dinkum joy for long-suffering Geelong fans. Those first

15 minutes of the second quarter held the past (happy and sad), the present, and

the future. But the moment was cut short.

And what about Tom Hawkins himself? Why was he denied? How great for a

kid to have a chance of kicking five goals in a quarter, in just his second game.

How great for him to feel like all his hopes and aspirations, all his striving, had

come to something. The game lost its heart. It became industrial.” P.59-60

Kangaroos versus Hawthorn


Kangaroos 2.4 5.4 7.6 10.10 (70)

Hawthorn 1.3 3.6 8.12 13.13 (91)


Hawthorn premiership hero before the match. He was adamant: if Hawthorn and the Kangaroos played the pedestrian football that had earned such derision in the first two rounds, he would not stick it out.” P.61

“We were concerned for him. In the opening minutes players made poor

decisions and missed targets while passing the ball in every direction except

goalwards. Frustrated fans begged for long kicks through the corridor, but both

teams persisted in what would be best described as oval-work. The ball covered

every blade of grass except for the turf in the centre square.

It was a classic example of David Parkin’s take on modern football:

We used go round in circles at training and play up the middle. Now they train

up the middle and play around in circles.” P.61

“During the break, we asked our row-D neighbour, North Melbourne

premiership captain David Dench, what he thought of the game. “Bloody

shithouse,” he said. P.61-62

“Hawthorn celebrated their second-half transformation and 21-point victory in front of their singing fans. We hoped Ray Wilson was one of them.” P.62


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 Dimitriadis says

    Carlton have made up some ground since 07. Kreuzer will impact later in ’11.

  2. John Butler says


    The Blues may have progressed, but it remains a legitimate question whether Tom Hawkins has since his first game.

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Far from legit JB. Tomahawk has gone backwards since Harmsy’s love affair began. He has the ability, but he still can’t produce consistently.

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