Craig Davis and David Bridie: an unlikely combination? Or not?

I really enjoyed the film clip to David Bridie’s song ‘The Deserters’




Actually, that’s not true. It was more than enjoyed. I was utterly taken by the clip, and the song. I think they are superb. I think every culture finds a way of expressing truth, and when I watch and listen I feel I am watching something that is true.

The classic orchestral themes and phrases, which at once contain joy and an underlying melancholy, supported by the images of everyday life in the Tasmanian town of Ross, and its footy club, stir my soul.  The baby and the cemetery, the Hills hoist, the boxer, the church with its spire, simple homes in the twilight, blokes at the footy ground, an old Valiant with an older caravan. These are the images of life. Sanctity among the profane, as Durkheim would have said.

And I don’t even come from Ross.

Craig Davis does. He grew up there.

He followed the suggested link on this website, watched the clip, and was moved to write to me:

“That has brought back memories the mighty Ross Demons where I started playing football as an 8 year old in the U/16s. Where I watched my father at 44 display his great talent. Where cousin Brent Crosswell took me out! Mum was not impressed.”

You can’t leave that there.

I know Craig enough to say g’day to. I met him  in Sydney a couple of years ago.

So I rang him up.

“I was just watching that clip, not taking a whole lot of notice,” Craig told me, “and I said, ‘That’s where I grew up. That’s Ross. That’s the church where Mum and Dad got married. There’s the cousins [in the team image].’ Can you believe that?”

“What is it?” he asked.

So I explained.

And while talking to Craig I realised how much it must have meant to him.

He was born in Ross. His father, Gary, was a shearer and a brilliant footballer, a ruckman. His mother is a Crosswell. (“If I were a horse, I’d have won three Melbourne Cups.”) So Brent Crosswell, whose father is Darryl Crosswell, is a first cousin.

Craig’s Dad helped get an under 16 side going in Ross (which only had 150 people) in the 1960s. Craig played as an eight year old. Other small towns had similar numbers. And so players were picked so that the eight year olds played on the eight year olds and so on.

One day he played on 12 year old Brent, who snotted him. (“Mum wasn’t impressed.”)

Many years later Brent had another go when he was playing for Melbourne and Craig was playing for Collingwood.

As a teenager Craig played in the Launceston Under 19s and showed a world of promise. The recruiters came looking and Ron Joseph and Bernie Deakin had a bet to see who could sign him. Carlton got the clearance first.

He played at Carlton, North, Collingwood and had a comeback year at the Swans.

He has been involved in footy in New South Wales for years, and these days (2015) is the director of sport at the University of New South Wales (which must make him one of Geoff Lawson’s favourite people on the planet). He works closely with game development.

Jezza is among his best mates. His lad is Nicholas Alex, Jezza’s lad is Benjamin Craig. Nicholas Alex is famous for greying the hairs of Geelong supporters.

Craig hasn’t played footy since the national super-rules championships in 1994, when Tilt Carter put together a dream team, just so that he could have some silverware in the cabinet. They saluted. Craig kicked a drop-kick from full-back which travelled 64 metres and was consequently named the National Drop-Kick Champion.

His kids refer to him as the National Drop Kick.

He still loves footy.

It all started in Ross, and the film clip took him back home.

Art will do that.


Craig Davis’s organisation Youth off the Streets has a fund-raiser coming up in Sydney. Details here.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Brilliant.

  2. Good yarn John.

    A very old bridge and very nice bakery in Ross.

    There is also a good story about an ex publican, in the annals of Tassy folklore, who was ‘caught up with’ by his girlfriend’s husband some 40 years ago. Attepted involuntary circumcision if I remember correctly.

    Interesting town.

  3. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Davo has been a wonderful servant of the game in NSW.

    He MC’d the Ralph Robertson lecture featuring John Harms, Rick Quade, & Rhys Muldoon.

    Called into the Ross pub a few yeards ago at Craig’s behest – renewed acquaintance with an old farming neighbour from Stanhope who had become mine host.

    Davo still has the best contact address book in Australian sport!

  4. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    CD MC’d a Newtown Swans trivia night some years back. He cracked that huge smile when yours truly was the only person in the room who knew that Ryan O’Keefe won the Jim Stynes medal in 2005. Characters it would seem, those Davis fellas.

    Love the song/clip. How about the colours for mood … and truth?

  5. loved it

  6. Superb.

  7. A wonderful read, LYW John. The ‘National Drop Kick’. Ha ha…. Brilliant.