Confessions of a Disloyal Almanacker


In 1968, Jan Myrdal published a significant book,Confessions of a Disloyal European. Myrdal was the son of two eminent Swedish social scientists, Gunnar, a Nobel laureate in Economics, 1974*, and Alva, a researcher in inequality issues. Typical of Swedes, Jan wrote from the Atlas perspective, metaphorically taking the weight of the world on his shoulders.


Newsweek described the book as “…Myrdal talking to himself ….in this fictionalized autobiography……….He sees himself as representative of the decadent breed of European intellectual (Europeans all the way from the Urals to California) whose perception, analysis and moral discrimination have been powerless to stop the social and political holocausts of the twentieth century.”


The dubious relevance of this obscure literary reference is that in 2019 I have been a disloyal Almanacker, very rarely contributing a comment, and only occasionally lurking. As the noted Russo-Ukrainian philosopher A. Jesaulenko reputedly said in another context, “There were reasons but they’re only excuses.” However, I feel compelled to offer the scarcely extenuating circumstances. There have been upheavals in my life with not the least consequence haphazard and intermittent internet access. Happily that is now passed, but the unprecedented circumstance that I have not participated in tipping competitions conveys something of the obstacles under which I’ve laboured and which have prevented me from conducting my life in its normal boring fashion. That the efforts of the team to which I am committed have ranged between feeble and mediocre has contributed to my disinclination to engage in football discussions.


T.S. Eliot observed that April is the cruellest month. I suppose to convert this to Southern Hemisphere seasons we’d substitute October. I’d guess for most football fans, October isn’t such an unhappy time, as most of us have at least a few occasions when we could bask in the culmination of the season in the prior month, satisfied that our boys had won the prize. In any case for me, it’s difficult to imagine a worse month than May 2019. In the opening six weeks of the new season Carlton had managed to defeat the Bulldogs, as well as suffering narrow losses to Gold Coast (away) and Hawthorn in what used to be their Launceston fortress. The Blues had also managed a couple of other respectable performances in games where they lowered their colours. Nothing prepared me for the wasteland of May, when I sat through the four matches played in Melbourne and watched the Giants’ demolition of the Blues on the box.


Played 5 Lost 5.

Points for 282 Points against 506.

Losing margins 58, 19, 93, 13, 41 points.  (Note the teasing element of the two “narrow” losses.)


(I’m fudging the dates here slightly by including the 2ndJune calamity against Essendon, but that round (#11)  began in May. As that humiliating day coincided with my wife’s birthday, I guess that I was being punished for sitting at the MCG rather than celebrating with my beloved. Again I offer the feeble defence that we did mark that family occasion both before and after the precise date.)


Melbourne City (of whom I’m a foundation member, when you gotta have Heart) succumbed in their sole final appearance in the A-League in the opening week of the cruellest month. As it was an Elimination Final, the loss to Adelaide ended their season. It was unsurprising that the game was a war of attrition, goalless through ninety minutes and until the final minute of extra time, when Adelaide inevitably scored.


In English League One (or the 3rddivision as we old fogies refer to it), three Almanackers had a stake in the latter end of the season. Rod Oaten emerged triumphant, which he noted with a post on the Almanac website, as Barnsley earned the precious 2nd automatic promotion spot. John Harms’ Doncaster and my Sunderland  finished 6th and 5th respectively and so were doomed to a play-off series where four teams compete for a single promotion spot (shades of Hunger Games). Sunderland had gifted Barnsley their promotion by contriving to draw something like 19 of their 46 matches.


Doncaster fell at the first hurdle when they were on level terms at the end of their home and away plus extra time against Charlton, only to lose on penalties. Sunderland managed the solitary goal in 180 minutes (home and away) against Portsmouth and so survived for the play-off final at Wembley on 27thMay. Inevitably they lost, with Charlton’s winner (that is, the goal that condemned my team to a second year in the 3rd Division) coming in the 94th minute – right at the end of stoppage time.


Yet these disappointments are relatively small beer in comparison to the catastrophe of 18th May. The Labor Party’s election loss was, to my mind, a disaster, not merely because I “barrack” for Labor and have done since I became politically sentient in my adolescence, but this was an election when, in my view, serious issues with significant consequences for the nation’s future divided the two main protagonists. Labor supporters are largely inured to disappointment, but widely shared expectations of a Labor victory by those who feared it, those who wanted it and neutral observers meant that the crushing blow of that night induced in me brief disbelief, the predecessor of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief.


The turn of the month saw my world resume its normal trajectory with some aspects causing distress (the loss of a dear friend), others bringing modest delight and most of my life characterised by quotidian mediocrity.


For Carlton, June brought respite after the Essendon debacle. Initially I was unhappy with the dismissal of Brendan Bolton, though understanding of the reasoning for the management returning to a typically Carlton reaction to a series of poor performances. David Teague’s appointment seemed to have the initial desired effect and the three matches when he has been in charge have brought two surprising victories against teams in the top eight as well as a narrow loss to the Bulldogs. What is evident is more spirited performances; whether this is a sugar hit or a level which can be sustained remains to be seen.


I apologise for this self-indulgent rambling account of my decidedly first-world problems. I’m back on board, grateful for this community and for what is, on balance, an undeservedly charmed existence.


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  1. Good to see you back on The Almanac pages, Peter. No self-indulgence here, mate, just an honest unburdening of issues of varying levels of importance that we all deal with. And maybe that’s the crux of the matter – in the end, what really is important? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hello Peter
    Interesting reflections.

    My summary for our busy times (aka ’10 second read’)

    ‘Things are crook in Tallarook …and beyond.’



  3. There are things that used to obsess me that I now have only a passing interest in – horse racing; politics and cricket. Sated by the 2018 flag I now observe a strict division between AFL and footy. Have cut off my obsessive watching of AFL 360 and footy media generally – preferring my own eyes and the good natured observations of Almanackers. Trades, sackings, injuries, rules and commercial grubbiness have been largely consigned to the dustbins of history.
    I can recommend it. Golf is the new black. At least I still have some skin in the game and can still dream of competence. In beautiful natural surroundings. See you on the first tee at Torquay sometime.

  4. Peter, finally caught up with this piece. I too was greatly disappointed with may 18th, although i had a, to quote Lano and Woodley, “a bit of an inkling”. Then to put up with those two obnoxious Sky News commentators, Paul Murray and Rowan Dean gloat was hard to take. However, life goes on. Maybe, just maybe the Aussies will take out the cricket World Cup and my beloved Norwood footy team will bring home the bacon.

  5. Welcome back, Peter!
    It is good to hear your voice once again

  6. Good to see you back here, Peter! May 18- urrrgg.

  7. Hi Peter. Hope we can catch up for a Blues/Cats chat soon. I notice that our teams finally play each other in R23 at GMHBA at a time TBC on a date TBC – doesn’t that roll off the tongue!

    What idiot at the AFL thinks it’s a good idea to make the final round a mystery experience timewise with the bye the following week? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this and other vital issues.

    Cheers, Burkie

  8. John Butler says

    G’day Peter. Quite a season for Bluebaggers. Again.

    I don’t think we really know what was going on before Bolton’s sacking. For one, I’d like a decent explanation of what Robert Walls was supposed to be up to.

    As for the Teague tenure – probably the effect of playing with house money has loosened everyone up a bit. But what it means longer term? I have no idea.

    Re May 18th. Plenty of valid criticisms of Labor could be made. And they seem determined to learn all the worst lessons from the defeat. But the fact remains the Coalition were a very poor government for 6 years. That won’t change now just because they squeaked back. This country seems content to sleep walk itself into some serious trouble. No doubt the larger world will oblige us.

    On that cheery note.

    Glad you’re back.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Good to hear from you Old Blue Stager

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Great to have you back Peter, and hope you’ve settled well into your new residence.

    Given the run all of the teams you barrack for have had, I hope you are not following the World Cup and the Ashes series that comes after too closely!

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    The Blue who came in from the cold. Good to see you back Peter.
    Looks like my Newcastle United will be playing your Sunderland in the lower leagues soon. Wishing you and yours well, old mate.

  12. Good to hear you up and about Peter.

    The loss of the supposedly “unloseable” by Labor was another example of how the grand media circus revealed itself to be just that: a circus. They’re like the little kid who sits with his eyes closed and fingers crossed repeatedly saying “I wish, I wish, I wish” only to be disappointed when they open their eyes and things aren’t as they hoped.

    Looking forward to some more Blues analysis.

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