Dermott Brereton – rebel in the pack

A few years ago I had an alcohol fuelled disagreement with some friends of mine about Dermott Brereton’s left-liberal credentials. It’s fair to say I was flying solo in my line of reasoning from the outset.

Hadn’t Dermie, I opined, supported the student occupation of RMIT in 1997 as those Bolshy students were crusading for free(ish) education? Had not Dermie also worked with the likes of Phil Cleary to oppose violence against women, my friends?

I was working my way into some good form and was ready to throw a few more hand-grenades.

Was it also not true that Dermott’s lineage can be traced back to impeccably credentialed Irish Republican stock – his paternal grandfather having shot it out at the Dublin Post Office during the Easter Uprising in 1916 – and, ipso facto, can Dermott not be described as an almost congenital rebel and fighter? Ha ha!

Furthermore, isn’t Dermie also opposed to homophobia and is he not the ultimate Renaissance Man who had an interest in fashion, acting and bouffants? I’d trotted out what I thought was a pretty handsome list of credentials on matters dear to the progressive mind.

Aligned against me, the naysayers positioned themselves in the swamp from the outset, protesting that Dermie owned a red sports car (which I didn’t doubt) but which almost axiomatically is grounds for exclusion into the realm of the progressive. And was not Mr Brereton a habitual nite-club tart who frequented Tok-H in Toorak, hardly the natural terrain of your class warrior.

Then, getting very grubby, I was reminded of the urban dictionary type term, “pulling a Dermie”, which refers to the practice of parking your car illegally right outside the entrance of a nite-club and then bypassing the queue as you make a bee-line for the bar.

Suffice it to say I never won that argument, and I doubt I ever will. Dermott is one of footballs more complex personalities – an iconoclast who rails against convention and injustice on the one hand, while siding against political correctness on the next.

But doesn’t that make Dermott just like any other personality, an admixture of views? Well, no. Dermott’s views are uniquely wide and ranging in the world of football, or at least its popular representation.

While Sam Newman has made a media career out of his trenchant and bigoted views, they invariably occupy the narrow space between populism and conservatism, while Dermott’s views span the ideological spectrum.

The furthest ground I’d be willing to concede is that he is a macho rebel with a good heart and poor punctuality, but my forlorn ambition is to have him elevated into the pantheon of leftist, cultural demi-Gods. Is there a spot for him there – somewhere between Brendan Behan and Paul Keating?

About Dave Latham

Dave Latham has recently finished a history thesis on class and Australian Rules football in Melbourne between the years 1870 and 1920.

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