Collingwood’s 2014 bicycle

‘Twas Mulga Bill, Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
– Banjo Paterson, Mulga Bill’s Bicycle (1896)

‘Twas Col Lingwood, from Abbotsford, that caught the football craze;
He turned away the hipster scene that swamped suburban days;
He dressed in 20-14 clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to Yarra Park to build a new machine;
And as he bounced it through the door, upon a summer’s day,
The grinning shop assistant said, ‘Excuse me, can you play?’

‘See here, young man,’ said Col, ‘from Gosch’s Paddock to the sea,
From Alberton to Woolloongabba, there’s none can play like me.
I’m good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I’m not the one to talk – I hate a man that blows.
But footy is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There’s no list here nor far and wide, no miracle winged keel,
There’s no-one walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof or wheel,
But what I’ll play, while phones will hold and Facebook posters tight:
I’ll play this here football concern right straight away at sight.’

‘Twas Col Lingwood, from Abbotsford, that sought finals abode,
That perched above the Bottom Ten, beside the mountain road.
He turned the football team downhill and mounted for the fray,
But ‘ere he’d gone a dozen rounds it bolted clean away.
20-14 left the track, like a pig without a pen,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Bottom Ten.

It shaved the Suns by half an inch, it smashed into the Dogs:
The very twittersphere in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Col Lingwood, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck an Eagle, gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree.
It raced beside the Demons as close as close could be:
And then as Col Lingwood let out one last despairing ‘Lion?!’
It made a leap of sixty points into the Bottom Ten.

‘Twas Col Lingwood, from Abbotsford, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, ‘I’ve had some narrer shaves and lively games before;
I’ve rode a wild Swan round a yard to win a Round Two bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I’ve encountered yet.
I’ll give that football outlaw best; it’s shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
20-14’s Dead Man’s Ten, we’ll leave it there for good;
20-15’s good enough henceforth for Col Lingwood.’

Adopted from Mulga Bill’s Bicycle (1896), Banjo Paterson.


About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and likes to walk around feeling generally amazed. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. “We’ll all be ‘rooned said ERegnans,
    In accent most forlorn,
    Outside the ‘G,
    ‘Ere slaughter began,
    The bloody seasons gawn.”

    Top stuff ER. That Banjo knew a thing or two about rhythm and rhyme

  2. neilbelford says

    Brilliant stuff V Ash. But if the pies keep going the way they are I think you are going to have to look further afield for reason. Sticking with bicycles, I think The Third Policeman could be the next place to look.

  3. Cheers PB, Neil.
    But reason?
    Start the witch-hunt without me.
    Too many variables in this life as it is.
    Banjo played it right, I reckon.
    Cheers from Dead Man’s Ten.

  4. Commiserations ER to you and Col. That’s a great adaptation. My Grade 5 teacher challenged us to memorise as much of Mulga Bill’s Bicycle as we could. It was a fine idea, and I can still rattle off the opening stanza! Like PB, I immediately thought of Said Hanrahan, another bush ballad of note. Life’s doesn’t have to only be TS Elliot! Thanks for that.

  5. Cheers Mickey,
    My ecosystem partner here Nothofagus cunninghammii once spent an overnight bushwalk memorising the Man From Snowy River.
    There remains something majestic about the reciting of a classic old poem.
    Next time you’re in town you’ll have to give Mulga Bill a turn.

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