Cousins no Strangers to a Goal

In simpler times, when humble TV sitcoms ruled the entertainment roost, the Chicago-based Perfect Strangers was a meat-and-three-veg staple in many a family lounge-room.

It shared the tale of two long-lost cousins. The neurotic yank Cousin Larry; and the goat-herding Greek shepherd, Cousin Balki. As you’ll recall, a rather mincingly flamboyant Bronson Pinchot starred as the latter.

At the Collo-seum on Saturday, the pre-match bill too had “cousins” written all over it. St Kilda’s Nick and Richmond’s Jack. While both Riewoldt boys ply their trade up forward, I’m sure neither would be coming forward, or er, “out”, to play the Balki Bartokomous role today.

And then there was Cousins, Ben. Today would be his penultimate game of football, and last outing prior to this week’s long-awaited doco. The tag-lines have been hitting us for over a year. “Must watch”. “Sit your kids down”. “Can’t miss”. Perhaps more appropriate is a classic straight-shooting ad line from Dudley Moore’s Crazy People – “This movie wont just scare you, it will f%$# you up for life”. Conducted over a mini-series-esque two nights, it will, of course, rate its absolute arse off.

But for today at least, my attitude towards the Tigers clash would strike a chord stereotypical of Perfect Strangers fare – light-hearted, feel-good, and hopefully a few innocent laughs along the way. Considering my football emotions will face more significant mental challenges in the coming month, I resigned myself to just relax and enjoy this one – no matter the outcome.

With the exercising of democratic rights completed early, I arrived at the Dome ready to exercise the elbow in the St Kilda Social Club – and “exorcise” those white wine demons from my birthday dinner the night previous.

A moral victory presented early following a regulation Carlton Draught-laden transaction. It resulted in more change returned than cash passed over. Interesting. Thus I was confronted with that split-second moment of truth – do I play the honesty card and ‘fess up to the barman’s error, or do I “take the money and run”.

The dishonourable route was chartered.

I reasoned, as Ian Collins so often infers, Etihad Stadium simply doesn’t make mistakes. Whether it the state of the turf, the quality of the “food”, the strength of the beer, or the “world’s best practice” retail prices we begrudgingly accept. I must have been dreaming my good fortune, surely.

I then pondered whether the bar attendant was Collo himself, starring in his own heart-warming edition of Undercover Boss. Indeed, if this were true, his performance as a Waqar Younis / Poncho from Chips lookalike was very convincing – although his basic fiscal mathematics were worrying for a CEO.

With heart-starters under the belt, no doubt requiring “canny bladder strategising” shortly enough, proceedings were underway.

Cousin Nick predictably opens the scoring chart.

Less predictably the Tigers slam on the next four – Cousin Jack with a quick-fire double. A rollicking free-flowing game was in the offing.

Stemming the tide, Cousin Nick wobbles through a left-foot off-balance boundary line snap – welcoming deft touch proving his post-injury straps are being hit.

But it’s the Yellow and Black holding sway at quarter time, six majors to five. It seemed as though “junk time” might be an all-day event. Joey Montagna lapped up the lack of close checking with fifteen early touches – a timely recruit for my Supercoach Aggets at the pointy end of fantasy finals.

A couple of the now-fabled “much-maligned” fraternity confirmed their “having a day out” status in the second.

Jake King, Richmond’s very own polarising midget – without the more prominent fervour aroused by a Milne, was cleaning up forward line spills with three majors of his own. King strikes me as the yapping cartoon terrier Chester, continually nipping at the heels of his bigger mate Spike. With a Richo-less Richmond, I’m not sure who fits the Spike mould. Cousin Jack isn’t quite the “massive unit” yet, and Stephen Jurica played his last game many moons ago.

At the opposite end, big Kosi relished his most productive outing for the year. Crashing the packs, leading with purpose, and taking “clunkers” – as contested marks seem branded now. More importantly, he kicked through the eye-diddle-diddle from long range. September heartening it proved to be.

Cousins, Ben, was steadily gathering touches, more in “good ordinary player” mould, as opposed to his Weagles prime of punishing pack-busting line-breaking combinations. He now tends to feed it off “hot potato” style, but his teammates still…


We apologise for the break in transmission! All eyes to the big screen if you don’t mind. We need another look at that.

The crowd re-live the magic. Its majesty enhanced in slow-motion.

The “Ooohs”, “Aaahs” and “Awwws” spark a momentous wave of “you little ripper” delight across the stadium.

In a season devoid of the “speccie”, Goddard restored faith in flight. Aerial timing impeccable, geographic timing impeccable – right in front of your trusty author in the St Kilda members wing. Lucky for me, bladder strategising hadn’t called me away at this moment.

A classic “hanger”, riding clean, high and long over the flat-footed, unsuspecting pack below. Cousin Jack and Sam Fisher providing the composite step ladder.

I imagined a bearded burbling alumnus of both clubs excitedly screaming: “He was higher than Joe Cocker!”.

Cousin Balki shrieking: “Oh Meester Goddard , don’t be reee-dic-u-lorsss!”

And in Bay 38, with comic genius aplomb, the usual “Give him the car!” shtick was doled out. The car a safe bet until Jurrah’s effort the next day. Remarkably, one of them will miss a Whopper voucher for Mark of the Week, let alone Mark of the Year.

Yet Goddard’s big grab proved the first genuine “Wow-eee” moment of the day. The second would of course arrive in the form of Melissa Doyle’s outfit on Seven’s election coverage later that night.

With the crowd now abuzz, the next few minutes established an unrealistic expectation of where the next “hanger” was coming from. It failed to arrive, but the goal-fest kept ticking along. Like the early star of the new racing season, by the main break the match confirmed itself as a definitive “Shoot Out”.

The slows did finally arrive in the third quarter. Cousin Nick continued to chop off errant Tiger disposal, crumbling against the weight of the St Kilda press. A rare Saints debutant, Luke Miles, held his own at half back. Unsurprisingly, he was christened “Milesy”. And Cousin Jack kept delivering at the other end. Cousins, Ben, by now, had limped off.

Our high-flying Goddard then earned the wrath of a “WTF?” red flag interchange infringement. Better now than in a final BJ. Cousin Jack was gifted his sixth goal. The Coleman in the bag by now you’d think.

With a two goal buffer at the final break, the Saints soon drew away. As per the usual canned laughter happy ending in Perfect Strangers, the script always dictated this. A double to Dal Santo, a tidy Goddard left-foot shark, and Milne eventually finds the score-sheet. That rollicking tight-knit contest suddenly sports a six goal difference.

A couple of late Richmond replies returns the score line to what seems par. Cousin Jack fittingly closes it out with his seventh. St Kilda on the receiving end of Riewoldt talent, as Cousin Nick has dished out to others for so long.

For the Tigers, they close a season of renewed promise next week.

And for the Saints, according to some pundits …well, strangely, they just aren’t accorded, and may as well do the same.

Yet, without the pressure of near perfection in 2009, a now-barnstorming Cousin Nick, and a burning redemption from a Scarlett toe-poke, the Saints are building nicely to upset that overbearing Pies-Cats September apple-cart.

It could be a hell of a month.

And should those St Kilda stars finally align, yours truly will be trotting out a very special patented brand of the Balki Bartokomous “dance of joy”.  The Didak shimmy will have nothing on this.


  1. A lovely little piece as usual DD.

    As you know, I’ve always been one of your greatest fans (wait for the prerequisite pause) ….. but …… your nursery rhyme work could do with a bit of sharpening up. I think that you’ll find that it is the “Hey Diddle Diddle” or more commonly referred to these days as “Hi Diddle Diddle”. Just as my blood was beginning to boil due to your “Nursery Webster” (perhaps a Nicki?), you redeemed yourself with a bit of Wiggles “Hot Potato” work.

    On the Jake King / Stephen Milne front, I heard the other day that they were planning an end of season trip together with Hayden Ballantyne (due credit must go to Crackers Keenan for that one).

    That is all

  2. David Downer says

    Thanks Arma.

    Indeed, a good pick-up. Just keeping sharp grammatical students like your goodself on your toes.

    I thought it was blatantly obvious I was cooking up a combo mix of “straight as a die”, “eye of the needle” and “hey diddle diddle” …yes, yes, that’ll do.

  3. John Butler says

    Given the cousins theme, maybe Patty Duke was worth consideration?

    Or was that before your time DD?

  4. David Downer says

    Er, significantly before my time JB.

    I had also considered the French drama “Cousin Cousine” …again before my time, but the storyline seemed a little “inappropriate” for this subject. Then again, the Riewoldts are Tasmanian. Ka-boom.

    The author now respectfully apologises to the many champion Apple Islanders who have laced up for St Kilda, and the Almanac’s chief Taswegian correspondent Phantom, for a very ordinary easy-hit (sh1t) Tassie joke there.


  5. DD – its funny to think that the press “experts” are considering the Saints a smokey in September. To my way of thinking they’re in it up to their eyeballs. I reckon whoever wins the 1st week between the Cats and Saints is a HUGE chance for the flag.

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