Everyday Obituaries: Old Mate Allan Way

Legend and Old Mate

 

Allan Geoffrey Way

Born Chadstone, Vic  22 Sep 1955
Died  Chadstone, Vic 11 Sep 2014

Allan Way PJF McCosker

The late Allan McCosker Way (right) with P. Flynn.

 

by Peter Flynn and Grant Andrea

 

It’d be remiss of us if we didn’t acknowledge our gratitude to the passer-by who found Al last Thursday evening. We hope they are doing OK. And we should also thank race caller Dan Mielecki for graciously recognising Al’s passing before his horse ran at Kilmore last Saturday night. Given Al’s legendary punctuality, it was hilarious that the race was delayed by a false start.

I first met Al in a Mancunian boozer on the 1997 Ashes tour. It was the Test where Steve Waugh made twin centuries batting with an injured hand. Displaying the sort of bottle that Al relished and loved. The funny thing was that his great mate Dogga’s penchant for constant refreshment and powers of persuasion coupled with bad meteorological advice from the locals ensured that Al didn’t see much of either Waugh innings.

My initial impression of Al, and this isn’t to be undervalued, was simply that he was very familiar. He seemed to be a product of the World of Sport, Penthouse Club, Sporting Globe era. A disciple of Chappell-led Australian cricket teams. A drinker of long necks. He was my kind of mucker. And from Manchester on, we forged a strong friendship. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Al really loved his sport. He was a passionate barracker. And, brain fades aside, a knowledgeable and astute observer. Al’s unconditional child-like devotion to the Collingwood Football Club is unrivalled in my orbit and probably yours. A few years back, Al gave his great Sainter mate Pal his 1966 Grand Final Football Record. On the page dedicated to the recording of the quarter-by-quarter scores, Collingwood and St-Kilda’s scores are neatly filled in by a young Al up to three-quarter time. The boxes designated for the full-time scores however are empty. Al took Collingwood losses in big games harder than anybody I know. And in his formative years, there were many.

He broke bones supporting his beloved Pies. The council that oversees the MCG precinct will be relieved that Al is Uncle Fred. Rubbish bins, poles and street signs were known to cop a hiding after a Collingwood loss. Al would’ve loved to have played for Collingwood. However he joked that as a young un’, he fell out of the pram, did a knee and had to have a knee reconstruction. Thus preventing a glittering career with Hafey’s Magpies.

Al achieved nearly everything on his sporting bucket list. Sometimes on his Pat but usually with a subset of his great travel mates who included Susie, Matt, Nolsey, JK, Kump, Grant, Corka and Dogga and many more. He saw Lara make 150 in Barbados to lead the West Indies to a one-wicket victory. He saw Laxman and Dravid bat all day at Eden Gardens in the ‘miracle of Kolkata’. He watched Test cricket in England, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Al was always keen to embrace the locals. On tour in Kandy one afternoon, he woke from a snooze to find a monkey in the room. Al assured me he didn’t spank it!

He went to the Kentucky Derby and the Irish Derby. He walked the fairways of British Opens, US Masters and US Opens. He went to Wimbledon. I reckon he even backed a winner at the Vienna trots.

Al played some of the World’s great golf courses. He was a consistent striker of a golf ball. And in his later years, Al achieved a long-held ambition to become a member at Riversdale with his great golfing mate PD.

While Al possessed reasonable hand-eye coordination, he was no Fred Astaire. And he was no Grandmaster Flash. Passengers on the London Underground have seen it all. When some unorthodox or unusual behaviour occurs on the Tube, nobody usually bats an eyelid. Passengers on the Tube hear frequent recorded announcements to mind the gap between the train and the platform. After some serious refreshment and some very persistent urgings, Al decided he would become AG Way rapper and give an impromptu Mind the Gap Rap.

Before our eyes, Al began jigging on the spot. All the while constructing lyrics to his rap. Suddenly Al morphed into part DK Lillee with fingers raised in appeal, part Frank the Tank and part Robot from Lost in Space. He exploded like an Icelandic volcano and began rapping (I use this word charitably):

Mind the gap and do the rap. Mind the gap and do the rap.

Old Mate had whipped himself into such a frenzy that he began doing forward rolls and attempting to break dance. Bemused and stunned passengers stopped what they were doing to watch this train wreck. We couldn’t breathe. No wonder he loved Billy Thorpe’s Most People I Know Think I’m Crazy. The only dance that Al mastered was the lawn-mower dance. And while on music, we will never stop cracking up laughing at Al’s version of Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home.

I only ever saw Al cry twice. Once was after a few ales reflecting on the early loss of his parents. The second time was as we set foot on the first fairway at his holy grail, Augusta National. Golfing heaven. The plan to attend the Masters was hatched after watching two Old Mates in the crowd hug, high-five and dry-copulate after witnessing Tiger Woods play that miracle chip shot in the 2005 US Masters. Two years later, I was doing the same thing with Al. It was a magic-AL trip. His feet never touched the ground.

All that week he kept saying:

How good’s this Sneak? This is unbelievable Sneak. How long has this been goin’ on Sneak? This is the best thing in life Sneak. You wouldn’t be Uncle Fred for quids Sneak.

It was Al who gave me the nickname Sneak after Sneaky Pete’s nightclub in Edinburgh. I have him to thank for women and children being wary of me as I’m introduced to them as Sneak!

Al was always a late adopter of technology. At that 2007 US Masters, he bought a disposal camera. Al took just one photo. It was of a Group 1 waitress at Wild Wings who was the spitting image of a young Sandra Bullock. I don’t need a camera Sneak he’d say. It’s all up here pointing to his loaf of bread.

He often mused that mobile phones were just a passing fad. Surprisingly, he eventually embraced one and I reckon he was a few texts away from using LOL. Prior to this though, anybody that had a mobile phone would be badgered to call somebody who was either asleep or overseas or both. Ring Dogga. Ring Dogga. He’d urge.

Like us all, Al had his idiosyncrasies and his rituals. An abrupt mechanical wave in greeting or in departure. It was always a pie at the footy. And a chiko roll at the races. He would always book the hotel room, check in on our behalf and then race to the room to garner the best bed.

Al possessed an impish sense of humour. For example, put your hand up if Al has jumped in a puddle and splashed you? Apparently in India you really needed be on your toes with Al as the puddles probably contained more than just water!

Al could be horribly undisciplined. A few beers after Steve Waugh made that SCG century, Al was so excited that he got out of our left jab, rushed over to a copper overseeing the aftermath of a nasty car accident and asked ‘did you see Steve Waugh’s century? How good was that? The copper thought he was a nutter. It was so Al.

Al had the ability to deliver a withering barb. While engaged in playful footy banter with Pal, he’d often say ‘Win a flag ya loser’.

I will miss our Sunday night rambling phone calls. Swapping subjects like rapid fire. Always talking sport both past and present. Always hatching a cunning plan to get to the next big sporting event. I will miss being admonished for being in animated phone conversation with my Old Mucker.

He used to leave the same message on our answering machine: “Sneaky, can you ring Allan Way.” Thank you. I accept that if I try and ring him now there’ll be no answer.

I accept there’ll be no more sinister cackling. No beratings. No brain fades. No glove taps in humour or in triumph. No call of nice shirt. Or nice mouth. Or she’s Group 1. Or good bloke. Or I’m cattled. No more old-school rhyming slang. No more repeating himself to the point where you’d want to whack him one.

Sadly, he will never again disappear into a toilet and appear five minutes later with half a dunny roll wrapped around his head. The Rick McCosker was his signature party trick. There’ll be no more scratches and bruises worn from jumping into bushes with the silly bugger. No more Cups doubles plunges. We landed the 2003 and 2007 doubles and we finished our partnership in front.

I’ve been taken aback by the amount of photos of Al that have been posted on Facebook. Hilarious because I don’t think Al knew what Facebook was. In these captured moments of good times, you can glean from his facial expression how many beers he’d had. Poker face through to silly grin through to kissing whoever he was next to through to the ultimate, the McCosker. The photos are a comforting reminder that Al really enjoyed himself. And that he really enjoyed our company. And these coveted snapshots in time should also serve to remind us to enjoy life and to not take ourselves too seriously.

It’s very important to recognise and acknowledge what a fine man Al was. Depending on your age and relationship, Al was a brother. An uncle. A father figure. A confidante. To many, he was all four and then some. He was a passionate and caring man with strong convictions and values. His moral compass invariably pointed in the right direction. Al freely and willingly offered pastoral care and practical assistance to his friends when it was required. I hope Al realised how much he was loved.

A mate of mine and an acquaintance of Al, Mick Howard once wrote:

Our own moments in space-time won’t last forever, and whilst life is many things to many people, a lot of us define our existence by our greatest memories.

By this metric, there can be no refuting that Al had a Group 1 life. He will be profoundly missed.

His Old Mate, expat Aussie Grant Andrea who lives in North London, travelled with him extensively. He has asked me to read out an ode that he penned. I’ll leave you with Grant’s fine words.

Uncle Al your time has come, but for us we know not why.

We hope it is a better place.

For you and your beloved Pies.

 

The good get taken far too quick and you were one of those.

Your laugh and banter we all loved.

You kept us on out toes.

 

Your Rick McCosker, Mind the Gap. Your DK Lillee stare.

We loved them all you crazy fool.

To not see them again is unfair.

 

In the Vaucluse we all met. Trying to understand.

Whilst at Punt Road your mum is waiting.

Tigers scarf in hand.

 

Go to her Al, you did her proud. You were a perfect son.

Dutiful, loving you had it all.

A new beginning with her has begun.

 

We hope you’ve gone to a better place where ten foot putts are given.

Where Teddy Hopkins dads a Jaffa.

And Breen doesn’t kick with such precision.

 

I’ll miss you mate, I love you heaps. You meant the world to me.

There’ll never be a better mucker.

Of that I guarantee.

 

So goodbye Al. I’ll be there soon. Then it’s go full steam ahead.

We’ll drink some beers, we’ll have a laugh.

I just wish you weren’t Uncle Fred.

 

Comments

  1. Masterful old mate. Beautiful work.

  2. Brilliant, old mate.
    You wouldn’t be dead for quids……

  3. Thanks for sharing that, P Flynn.
    All the best to friends and family.

  4. Well played PJF. A caring, gentle, funny and intelligent man. Al seemed to me to be living an adults life through the eyes of a child.A model we should all contemplate. MWH

  5. Thanks punters.

    A great man who I will always miss.

    PJF

  6. Hey Mick where does the nickname “Carlos” come from?

  7. Matt Dowling says

    I only met Al once, it was in the Cricketers Arms before an Ashes match at the MCG. He stuck in my head and attained legendary status amongst my mates as the guy whose sole ambition was to visit every major sporting event in the world before he was ‘Uncle Fred’. Thoroughly nice bloke.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Flynny. Great tribute. Best wishes to everyone.

  9. Played, Sneak.

  10. A moving tribute Flynny, Al would be proud.

  11. Very moving and carries the unique Flynn tone throughout the tribute. Well played PJF.

  12. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Ditto above superb , PJF

  13. Andrew Starkie says

    Beauriful Flynny, Beautiful.

    I’m sure Al’s reading this upstairs.

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