Dudley Street Doggies – All The President’s Men

The post-Round 23 Monday morning saw Clem, creature of habit that he is, leafing through the day’s little paper. Well, the bigger selling of the two little papers, now that the big paper was also a little paper.

“Robbo, Caro, RoRo?? What ever happened to Scotty, LouLou, Dyer ‘ere, that was quality journalism. Who would have thought that people would stop buying The Truth or the King’s Cross Whisper. I learnt a lot about ‘relationships’ from that Heartbalm section. Dunno why one of the other papers didn’t take that up.”

Bess looked longingly at the paper. She knew what it was best suited to, especially at three in the morning.

“Finals. Bloody finals. Did you hear that Bess, the Doggies are in the finals.”

Of course Bess knew they were in the bloody finals. It was all they were talking about in Barkly St last week, when Clem went down to the market last Friday and picked out a new red, white and blue coat for her. She might be colour-blind, but deaf she isn’t.

“But the AF-bloody-L have put the match at the MCG. That’s the other side of town. On Satdy night. Snobs. I can’t afford a ticket there. I guess we’ll have to watch it on the idiot box.”

Bess wondered why Clem’s TV was named after the Channel 7 Saturday Night commentary team.

On Tuesday night, on Dogstel as Clem now called it, he flicked over to one channel, intrigued by the program title “Big Hits of the 80s”. Expecting to see Leigh Matthews or Mark Yeates, he came across titles like “Gymnasium” (nothing to do with Libba), “Girls on Film” (nothing to do with Pat and Jenny) and “Relax” (nothing to do with ‘Ol Blue Eyes). He had a restless sleep; he must have been worried about the game against the Crows.

It had been a wonderful year for Clem. It became even more wonderfuller on Wednesday night when Quang dropped by.

“Mr. Clem. Mr. Clem. Guess what. You know Van’s big boy, Paul? The one who works for those big accountants Clive Waterhose? He’s being doing some important work for the Pres, something about Double Dutch Irish Sandwiches. Yeh, I didn’t know they did catering either. Anyway, he’s done such a good job that the Pres is shouting him five tickets to the footy on Saturday. In one of those Superboxes. Me, Van, Danny, Paul and you, if you want Mr. Clem. Pick you up at 5pm”

“Free food and grog at the footy” thought Clem. “I might just have one of those Crown Lagers that the bosses at the tyre factory used to drink”, remembering the warm pair of Melbourne Bitter long-necks that the workers were given each Christmas instead. “But just one”.

Of course, this meant that Clem needed some good clothes, so after his Friday haircut at Joe’s, he popped into the Menz Line for some new strides. He thought about some new shoes, but didn’t really need to, as the zips on his current grey pair were still in good shape.

At around 2pm on the Saturday, Clem was getting toey, as toey as an old bloke making this first trip to a catered MCG final would be. So, off with the sandals, on with the glad rags, including old scarf, new cap and slightly too long grey FJ slacks. At 2:05pm, he realised that he was ready a bit early, so popped the tele back on.

“Geez that Ann Margret is a good sort”, noted Clem. “Rusty Jackson and Lusty Martin. My two favourite characters”, he thought, for possibly the seventy-fifth time in his life.

Clem could wait no longer, so at 4:45, he said ta-ta to Bess, leaving her with a bowl of dry food, and shuffled out to wait for Quang and Co out the front.

There here saw Grace and Joan, his neighbours on the right. They were retired school teachers who looked after a passing parade of cats. They liked cats so much, they often wore hand-knitted jumpers that featured faux furry felines or burmilla-bedazzled t-shirts in the summer months.

Bang on 5 o’clock, a long black limousine pulled up, frightening Bumper, the ladies’ newest, coolest cat. Paul, who Clem hadn’t met before, wound down the darkened window and yelled to Clem “Come in, there’s lots of space for everyone”.

Paul explained to Clem that the whole night was being covered by the Pres, including the limo, and for him to eat and drink whatever he liked.

Clem’s head was spinning, he’d never faced the back window in a car before, let alone driven in one with its own fridge. “I’ll have an OJ please waiter”, he joked to Danny.

The thirty minute drive to the ‘G was a blur. Clem took in sights that were new to him such as the Crown “Entertainment Complex” and Fed Square, but lamented the loss of the architectural magnificence of the Gas and Fuel building as they passed slowly along Flinders St.

As the shiny sleek machine glided into the carpark, they glimpsed some of the Doggies spring-stepping toward their changerooms. “Look”, said Danny, “there’s Murph and Boydy. And Lukey”.

“Is the Parcel there?”, quipped Van. “Package, Dad, Package”, replied Paul, without knowing that his Dad was making a joke, such was Van’s grasp on Aussie humour after thirty years as a local.

After the Presmobile was parked, they were shown to their Superbox. It was very Super. When seated, the first thing they did was open the glass window to allow the atmosphere to waft in. It was almost two hours to the first bounce, so they tucked in to the freebie, pre-match, top end of town fare. While munching on his third curry puff, Clem noticed that ‘the girl from the radio’ Phoebe Cox was being interviewed on the ground, but he, along with many Dogs fans, wondered why.

Quang, Van, Paul and Clem had one celebratory Crownie before settling on softies for the rest of the night and Danny made the most of his bottomless glass of Coke.

The Pres even popped in to check that all was well with Paul and his crew. Paul introduced his guests to the Pres. Clem was caught mid-spring roll, but managed to blurt out his thanks to the man who has saved his club more than once. Pres was polite enough to wait until he left the box before brushing the pastry flakes from his lapel.

With the crowd numbers mounting, Clem dug out his binoculars, the good ones that Madge had bought him for his fiftieth. The tan leather case had taken a bit of a battering over the years, but the soft red felt inlay was still in good nick. On the far side of the ground, he spied “that Gillian O’Loughlin”. Clem had heard on the radio that he was sitting with “Richard Bronson” and sure enough, there he was, looking a little greyer than when he was in the Dirty Dozen, but he cut a fine figure in that Bullies jumper.

Both sides burst out onto the ground, first the visiting Crows in the all white colours of their club, followed by Footscray.

The national anthem was performed reverently, but try as he might, Clem couldn’t spot where Julie Anthony was positioned. But he did spot Mickey Malthouse behind glass at the Punt Road end. He appeared to be nodding sagely at first, but when the young attendant brought in a tartan rug to cover his lap and a cup of lukewarm tea, he looked just like he did in the coaching box at Carlton earlier this year.

The siren blared, ruckmen Tim Finn and Peter Garrett scratched out their runups. The ball was bounced.

Go Bullydogs!!!!

“C’mon fellas, chin up.” It was the Pres. “Are you coming down to the rooms?”

After the most exhilarating footy spectacle in years, to be allowed to linger near the players afterwards was something else again.

Hangers on they might have been, but Clem, Quang, Van, Paul and Danny were in supporter heaven.

“Can’t wait for next year Mr Clem”, said Quang.

“About time you dropped the ‘Mr’ isn’t it?”, Clem replied, draping his arm around Quang’s right shoulder.

“OK Clem. Fancy a night cap?”

 

 

 

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right

Comments

  1. Mickey Randall says:

    Swish- so many excellent references such as the grey shoes with zips, and the tyre factory bosses drinking Crown Lager.

    Clem and Bess have great rapport and I hope they’ll return next season, and see The Parcel in action.

  2. Neil Anderson says:

    It read like a Bulldog supporter’s dream sequence in a film. If it is all true I am just so jealous of Clem and the gang.
    I’m now even more convinced the Bulldogs are in good hands with our President and of course our captain.

  3. Great stuff, Swish – Clive Waterhose indeed!

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Absolutely brilliant,Swish I have loved this series hope,Clem and his dogs continue on next year

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Thanks once again for the positive support.

    Clem may even make an appearance over the summer. I hear that Quang and Van’s daughters are keen on cricket, so they might take a visit to the KKK Big Bonk.

  6. Clothes shopping at Menz Line?

    Bloody, Spurling’s or Forges not good enough for old mate anymore?

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Clem reminds me a lot of my late Grandfather, from the grey shoes with the zips, to the word mispronounciation.
    I’m sure ‘Gymnasium’ gets much more of an airing on Dogstel than at any S.Cummings gig these days. Rightly so.
    Great stuff Swish.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Bakes/Luke

    I’m just hanging out for Gazman’s “Clem Collection”, then I’ll be set.

    Clem’s also discovered some continental sheila called Sabrina on Dogstel. Big future.

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