Director’s Cut

The Cassidy Family

Barrie Cassidy is an elder statesman of Australian political journalism. He is a fine political analyst. He is also a massive Collingwood fan. He is not from a Collingwood family though. The Cassidys – six kids, who grew up in Chiltern during the 1950s – are a little different when it comes to families and their footy teams.

Barrie’s father Bill, a manager at the brickworks for most of his working life, barracked for Melbourne. His mother, Myra, barracked for Hawthorn.

The oldest child, Pam, went her own way. She loved Bobby Davis and the Cats colours so she barracked for Geelong.

Five Cassidy boys came along. The oldest, Ron, went with the strength. Geelong was one of the top teams when he was choosing a team, and his sister barracked for them, so he chose the Cats.

The Cassidy boys were rather competitive, so none was going to choose the team of another. Young Bill dabbled with St Kilda. He loved Carl Ditterich and so he wrote to him. When Big Carl wrote back the Saints had a new fan. Brian (Megsie) used his five-year old intellect. He looked at the teams names some were little suburbs but Melbourne was a huge city. Melbourne would therefore have access to the most players which would ensure their future success. Graham (Scrooge) was impressed by a Women’s Weekly photo of Hawthorn’s Graham Arthur which his mother had on the wall. He became a Hawk.

And Barrie? Each week the Cassidys cranked up the old Chevvie (literally) and headed into Wangaratta to do the shopping. One day in 1956 Barrie and Megsie, overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the big smoke, managed to get lost. They wound up outside the sports store in Murphy Street. A kindly man came out to see if he could help. It was Bob Rose. The much-loved Collingwood premiership player had moved to the country to be captain-coach of Wang Rovers, a decision which ensured the financial security of his young family. He was one of the great characters of Victorian life at the time. Barrie was a Pie for life.

Barrie’s son Adam is a Pie as well. But he is concerned for his grandson Quinn who attends a childcare centre not far from Kardinia Park in Geelong where he is bombarded with the  influence of Cats fans on a daily basis.


Matt O’Connor and other rebels

I was once in the Epping line train going to the MCG to see Melbourne and Geelong and a bloke in his 60s – peroxided long hair, ear-rings and tatts – was opposite me. We got chatting and I could tell he had a hint of anger in him, but at the same time was friendly enough. I asked how he came to barrack for Melbourne.

“The old man was f##ken Collingwood, wasn’t he.”

Some have chosen their team as an act of rebellion.

Matt O’Connor is a genuine card-carrying Collingwood fan who has little time for Richmond, or those who jumped on the bandwagon in the late 60s and early 70s. Indeed, his Collingwood-ness has its origins in not-Richmond-ness.

In The Footy Almanac of 2007 he wrote:

“My Collingwood rivalry with Richmond started at Ripponlea Primary School in 1974, when my Grade 2 teacher asked us to stand up if we liked Elvis. I wasn’t entirely sure who Elvis was, and fancying myself as something of a rebel, I stayed in my seat when I realised that almost all of my classmates had leapt to their feet.

Next we were asked to declare our football alegiances. The Tigers had just gone back-to-back, so it was no surprise when the Elvis neophytes opted for Richmond en masse. The spotlight returned to me. I panicked and chose Collingwood.”



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. DBalassone says

    Love these ‘why I barrack for’ anecdotes. The one about the bloke on the Epping line is a beauty. When was this article published in The Age by the way? Must’ve missed it. Is there a link?

  2. DB, it was in the Melbourne Magazine last Friday. Lots of yarns involving chance, independence, family and so on.

  3. Typical! Age cuts out two (distinguished) Pie fans.

    I aint paranoid. It’s just that everybody hates us.

  4. Andrew Fithall says

    I think the Age made very good choices on the families they left in.


  5. There was a query recently on the sartorial taste of the gentlemen of the Knackery. In our defence, I give you: MOC and Andrew Fithall. Hats, gentlemen. Magnificent hats.

  6. Rick Kane says

    MOC didn’t stand up for Elvis? That’s reason enough to be banished to hell (the real hell) that is Collingwood forever. Amen

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    Looking at the small photo there, MOC looks a dead ringer for Mick Malthouse.

  8. John Sandy says

    Hi John, I love listening to everyone’s stories about how they came to be a ? Supporter. Everyone’s got a story. I have been planning a book on this topic (all in my head do far) for a few years now.

  9. Mark Branagan says

    Harmsy – I’m glad you revealed these editorial off-cuts. I initially suspected that your piece in the Melbourne magazine had come to a screeching halt just as I was getting into it. I spent a couple of hours wondering whether I had missed a page or two. Anyway, a good story particularly about Bob Rose in Wang. Nowadays Rose could make enough money to stay in the game and only have to appear in a country town once a year to “reach-out” to the local community.

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