Dudley Street Doggies – Them’s The Breaks

The Monday after his Bulldogs lost to the Saints, Clem took his usual possie in the front room and unfurled the little paper.

“Ah well, that was fun”, Clem thought to himself as he gazed at the post Round 6 ladder. “We might still be in the 8, but we’ll struggle over the next month girl”, he remarked to Bess, who had heard it all before.

Sure enough, Clem was right, as the Westerners dropped games against Freo (gallant), Melbourne (piss-poor) and Port (Adelaide not Melbourne). Only a face-saving win against Griff’s Giants allowed them to be in a break-even mid-table position after Round 10.

That Wednesday, at around 1:47pm, Clem grabbed the stool from the kitchen, the one with chrome legs, missing black plastic stopper and patchwork vinyl top, and nestled it against the oak wardrobe in their, no, his bedroom. He wanted to get down the bulging cardboard box that had remained unmoved since the Simon Beasley years.

In it was each Footy Record from the home games of that era, scores lovingly recorded by Madge, an unfailingly neat cipher of “I”s and “.”s against the players of the team on the left (and if you thought about it, the Team of the Left).

Clem was hoping to find the one from 1985, when the Doggies did the Demons by 20 goals and The Pieman kicked a dozen, despite giving away a poultice of free kicks in the process. Or maybe it was the stray copies of Pix, Man and Parade that he had kept there, for the articles.

But as Ena’s boy Andy Harwood would say, ‘It’s Academic’ now.

Clem found that thirty year old cardboard has about a much support as the Board gave Joycey in 1996. As he carefully lifted the box with two hands, the bottom fell out (1996 again), the stool shifted (bloody missing plastic stopper) and the old-timer slammed back first onto the messmate flooring. Maximum breakage ensued as Clem partially braced his fall with his right elbow, but the black ceramic pot he kept by his bedside, to save the long 3 a.m. walk to the dunny, landed on his left shin.

The net result was a chipped humerus (har-bloody-har) and a six-coloured bruise on his leg. As if on cue, Bess charged into the room, yapping incessantly. All Clem could come out with was a low whispered “Ted, Ted” as he hoped, forlornly, that his neighbour may have heard the commotion and popped over to help.

Clem lay on that floor until Quang arrived at around Million Dollar Minute time, almost four hours later.

Quang knew that if Clem didn’t answer his knocks on the front door, he could go around the back and leave his weekly provisions on the porch. This time, for no real reason, he tried the back screen door and found that it was open, so he decided to leave the box in the laundry. Bess, who was normally quiet, latched onto the right leg of Quang’s white sleeveless King Gees and growled ferociously.

Quang looked down the long hallway, heard the TV faintly, and, after a couple of tentative “Hello Mr Clem”s, decided to investigate.

….

Clem had never been in an ambulance before. He felt both important and ashamed at the fuss that was being made over him, during the brief trip round the corner to Eleanor St.

He spent the next few nights there, with a constant stream of visitors. Quang and his family brought him plenty of fruit and supplied him with some (new) reading material. Around morning tea time on the Saturday, Clem had a pair of surprise visitors. Even though they had the weekend off, Bobby Murphy and The Bont had popped in to cheer up Clem and a few other Dogs supporters. How the club knows about these happenings is anyone’s guess, but it certainly lifted his spirits. They even gave him a new club scarf.

Clem was worried about how Bess was. Quang had arranged for Pat and Jenny down the road to look after her while Clem was laid up, as he had heard that they were long time dog lovers.

The fall took some (but not all) of the wind out of Clem’s sails. The sling annoyed him at first and the leg was a bit tender for a week or two. He had to learn to look after himself one-handed, although the Western Health Home Nursing Service was a big help there. He avoided fibre for a while as well.

For the next fortnight, Quang’s wife Han would pick Clem up at around 5ish and take him to their house for dinner. He enjoyed this so much that he “bunged it on a bit” so that he could delay the return to his own cooking. He need not have bothered with the pretence. He was both a bad actor and an avid slurper of pho, so Han continued this arrangement for a few more weeks.

The silver lining to all this was Quang’s decision to get Foxtel put on at Clem’s house. Although he protested loudly at this, it was like a lifetime of birthdays for Clem, except for the day that he lost the remote and was forced to watch the American Lifestyle Channel’s Trailer Trash Tuesday. The litany of tattooed, overweight, pregnant teenage beauty pageant queens had Clem harking back wistfully to the days of Mike Walsh, Geoff Harvey, Ernie Sigley, Denise Drysdale, Dermott Brereton and Bill Collins (the movie one, not the racing one).

Once the remote was located, Clem caught up with some of the Bullies games that he had missed, on the Footy Channel. (‘Bloody hell, a whole channel just for footy’). He found out that Jake Stringer was called “The Package” and wondered why BT hadn’t yet been offered one by Channel 7. Even Dave Darcy’s kid was a bit grating. But that Derwayne Russell was something else.

His team hadn’t let him down during his convalescence, except for last weekend against the West Coast (but they never win in Red jumpers anyway, he mused). Where was Danny Southern when you needed him?

Although he wasn’t up to attending any of their games during his long, cold, but not lonely winter, Clem is on the way back and raring to go in September.

Quang, Van and Danny will be picking Clem up at 3:30 this Satdy arvo.

Go Bullydogs!!!

 

 

READ MORE OF CLEM’S 2015 SEASON BY CLICKING HERE

 

 

 

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. bob.speechley says:

    What a classic. The support for the Bulldogs is astonishing. At Etihad recently there was a family of 5 Vietnamese kids scrambling to be photographed with Sid the Bulldog who is always there at Gate 7 for home games. Dyed in the wool, red, white & blue to their bootstraps but as I discovered on FB not so long ago “pho” isn’t part of everyone’s worldly knowledge. Going to Doggies games,after a generation following Essendon is really refreshing my love of the game. As you have so graphically shown their supporters represent the heartland of our game.

  2. Great stuff Swish.

    Good time to be a Bullydogs fan. The resurgence of the Dogs and Richmond and the resilience of the Crows since the death of Phil Walsh have been the Highpoints (no pun intended and apologies to those unfamiliar with the geography of Melbourne’s western suburbs) of 2015.

    Good luck to old mate, hope he’s getting better every day.

  3. Kerrie Soraghan says:

    Oh how wonderful !

    Where will it all end for Clem and Quang? I can’t wait to find out….

  4. Kerrie Soraghan says:

    Ps I love the reference to Pat and Jenny too. The absolute epitome of the loyal and patient people of the west.

  5. cowshedend says:

    Love it Swish
    alternate title.’Pho whom the bell tolls’

  6. Great story Swish I loved it. Clem sounds lucky to have Bess and Quang in his life and great community support. Enjoying very much the Doggies story this year too.

  7. Neil Anderson says:

    Thanks for taking me back to the Footscray I knew in the 1950’s. Neighbours checking up on neighbours, dropping groceries off at the back door and having them round for a meal while they were convalescing. Then the miracle present of a TV channel so he could see all the Bullydog games topped it all off.
    Let’s hope Clem enjoys the next few weeks watching the Bulldogs play final’s footy once again.

  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    I love those old names Swish – Clem, Bess, Madge. Who was the last Clem or Madge in elite sport?

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Fantastic Swish love these stories !

  10. Mickey Randall says:

    Ripper Swish.

    Really enjoying this series and Bob Murphy and his dogs, although if we make the finals I’d rather not run into them!

    Love the BT and The Package line. Hear, hear.

  11. Dave Brown says:

    Nice one, Swish. Crows failing, let’s hope he has a good September. Also good to see BT can cop a clattering in fiction too.

    There’s a Clem at Carlton right now, Phil – I’ll let you decide if that counts as elite.

  12. Great stuff, Swish. Enjoyed every word.

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Thanks all for taking the time to read and comment.

    Bob – you’ve pulled the right rein there

    Bakes – he’s on the mend alright

    Kerrie – I rewatched Year of the Dogs a few weeks back, and live tweeted some of its highlights (watch out for J Hird’s reaction to S Wallis at the end of the last game). I was pleased to find out that Pat and Jenny are still going strong.

    CSE – as my kids say, LOL

    Damien – your Singaporean perspective is appreciated

    Neil – glad to rekindle some good times, looks like you’ve got some more coming up

    Phil – apart from Terry Alderman and Madonna, no others come to mind

    ‘Book – maybe the Potter family could pay Clem a visit, that would introduce a few more characters

    Mickey – nice word candy there

    Dave – well spotted

    Smokie – thanks cobber

  14. Michele Davis says:

    OMG Swish I loved that!
    Clem is so real to me , like one of the old codgers I look after in Emergency
    That fall off the bloody stool , was like in slow motion! Poor Clem, bet he was secretly tickled about riding in the Ambulance ! And fancy Bob and the Bomt dropping by.
    What about Ena’s boy Andy Harwood! You just slipped that in, smooth as all get out. No stopping you!
    And Quang with his heart of gold. Love it all. I think there’s a book in there. Look out Alice Pung and Tony Birch.

  15. Michele Davis says:

    *Bont

  16. Mickey Randall says:

    Geoff Harvey! Funny, brilliant and terrifying.

    And then Danny Southern.

  17. Luke Reynolds says:

    Was wondering what had happened to Clem, had feared the worst. Ah the chrome legged stool with the missing stopper. A fixture in every home of that generation?

    Great stuff Swish.

    Whatever did happen to Geoff Harvey?

  18. Grand stuff Swish. I thought Clem was two timing when I read Bess AND Madge in the first few paras. Later I worked out Bess was a dog and Madge had passed on.
    Think you need an “in the story so far intro” like at the start of the Bold and the Beautiful. The Avenging Eagle can help you out with plotlines.
    Pass my regards onto Clem. Tell him I saw his Bullydogs in the flesh last week, and they were as good a side as I have seen all year for 2 quarters. They need to get a bit bigger and stronger to sustain that hard running game on big grounds, and play a second ruckman.
    Cheers.

  19. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Michelle – sounds like you should be writing the book, thanks.

    Luke/Mickey – I’m sure that there will be some sort of “daytime TV chorus girl scandal” unearthed by A Current Affair sometime soon. We’ll find out then.

    PB – Carlton fan Cory Bernardi was even more confused when he read it apparently.

  20. Cat from the Country says:

    Delightful story. I love the humanity in these footy stories.
    I look forward to Chapter 2 wifh Clem, Bess, Quang and Li.
    My Doggies-supporting husband enjoyed it too.
    BTW he only barracks for them when they win, so he is very happy at present!

  21. Can’t wait to hear the next instalment of Clem and Quang.

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