Almanac Short Story: Dudley Street Doggies – Bob Murphy, Up The Guts

Clem thought all of his birthdays had come at once after the Freo win, thinking also that the Doggies were going to be “Cherry Ripe” to knock off the Hawkers not long after that.

But late in the last quarter of that game, it was more like “Polly Waffle” and not the Hoadley’s version, but the public toddler pool variety.

Bobbie Murphy’s 2016 was gone quicker than a hot VHS machine did on a 1985 Friday night at the Plough (allegedly) and so did the four points soon after.

The Doggies got through against the Saints, Blues, Lions and Crows, but couldn’t match it against the Kangas.

Clem had other things on his mind throughout this time. Quang, Van, Li and Danny did their best to lift his spirits, but he wasn’t the old Clem. His constant, faithful and sometimes incontinent companion Bess had been off her tucker since the Hawks game, getting by on a diet of of Farex and crushed up Arnotts Marie biscuits. At night, she was up on the hour for a wee, giving her master a run for his money in the getting up on the hour for a wee stakes.

Her twice daily walks dried up like a Boycott-Tavare opening partnership at Ashburton Oval, so Clem had to take Bess to the local vet. They hadn’t been for a while, well, since the Akermanis years, so it had slipped Clem’s mind that Bess was rising eighteen years old. Clem decided against the expense of x-rays or surgery, thinking that if the worst was to happen, that he would try to make her last days as enjoyable as possible.

He went to the K-Mart pet section and lashed out on one of those fancy “polo fleece” blankets in a brown-paw-print-on-beige pattern. It looked so good he bought one for Bess as well.

Clem was close to losing a loved one, just like in October 1989, when his beloved Bulldogs nearly went under, absorbed into Fitzroy thanks to the conniving VFL. He, like thousands of locals, embarked on the the tin rattle to end all tin-rattles and they raised enough money to stave off the seemingly inevitable. Every day Madge would troop over to the Drill Hall and help with whatever needed doing. She almost sold a priest an “Up Yours Oakley” sticker. He remembered the old-timers game against Collingwood. And Terry Wheeler coming on as new coach. And the parade up Barkly St when it was all over. And how they would have felt if the Bulldogs were no more.

On the way back from K-Mart, Clem diverted to Sunny Nguyen’s bakery just down from the station and, for the first time ever, asked for a pork roll with the lot rather than his customary mushroom pie. Well, he didn’t realise that he had asked for “the lot” and certainly didn’t expect it to include a generous tongful of chilli and a spread of that dubious looking paste.

Arriving home and electing to have the roll for an early dinner, Clem unwrapped it and placed it on a dinner plate, having decided that it was too big for his usual pie plate. One bite was all it took to realise that he should have gone the pie option. Eyes-watering, nostrils flaring and mouth-burning, Clem put the big plate aside while he went to the cupboard to check out the baked beans situation.

Well, he thought it was aside, but the plate was actually placed asunder. Hearing the clatter, Bess surprisingly rose from her torpor and tucked into the dining debris. Which she loved, at least initially. (What’s in that paste?)

Bess’s growl started low, then a rolling shudder took over her ailing body until it violently hurled a miniature plastic facsimile of their injured captain across the room. “So that’s where that mini Bob Murphy figure I got at Coles went”, thought Clem.

It had been there since Easter, resurfacing months later. Bess immediately perked up. Luckily for her, Clem had kept a couple of bungs of Chum, which he carved chumpily for her. Her appetite back, she came back for more.

Bob Murphy’s announcement on Tuesday, around early teatime, that he’d be back in 2017 only confirmed what Clem and Bess already knew – that he is a hard man to keep down.

Go Bullydogs.

You can see Clem’s earlier adventures here:

The Beginning

Clem Nips Out To The Shed

Them’s The Breaks

All The President’s Men

Five Get Over Excited

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


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Absolutely brilliant Swish

  2. I know how you feel Bess. Chucked up 3 Nic Nats, 2 Jack Darlings and a half a JK on Sunday night myself. All better now. Well played Swish. Grateful you didn’t let Quang take Clem to the footy on Sunday. Awful game. Didn’t do my old ticker any good, and it could have finished Clem off.
    Hope you are the one eating Crow on Saturday night Swish.

  3. Cowshedend says

    Brilliant again Swish
    Did Clem treck down to Whitten Oval last week to farewell Footscray icon Jimmy Wong.. or is he a Poons man?

  4. Dave Brown says

    Excellent! In good simile form, Swish. Will Agars continue the run of form?

    Tofu banh mi, no chilli, thanks

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    ‘Book – I know

    PB – I’m confident, which makes WC certs

    CSE – Clem used to prefer his own witlof and lambs fry casserole until Quang and family sorted him out. He still likes Vesta meals, does that count?

    I went to Jimmy Wongs recently to try the famous dimmies. South Melbourne Market version wins by the length of the straight. Steve Baker told it much better than me though:

    Dave – Gordon had the Queen’s Birthday bye in honour of Don Dunstan this week

  6. Nice to again visit the genteel, slightly bonkers world of Clem.

    Loved the K Mart section and the priest and sticker line too.

    Thanks Swish.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Mickey. Clem’s memories of 1989 owe a debt to Kerrie Soraghan’s account of that turbulent period (as borrowed from the Footscray Mechanics Institute Library). The priest story was real.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    “He went to the K-Mart pet section and lashed out on one of those fancy “polo fleece” blankets in a brown-paw-print-on-beige pattern. It looked so good he bought one for Bess as well.” Brilliant.

    Best Clem yet.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    It’s in the Top 6 Luke. Thanks

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Now that the Crows are gone, Go Bullydogs!!!

  11. Any chance of Clems thoughts about the dogs this week,Swish

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Clem and Co will be at the ‘Dome today.

    Go Bobbydogs!!!

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