Everyone’s Bob

“If I miss anything about sport, it’s the camaraderie of old teammates.”

Bo Jackson


Bob Murphy started his column about Daniel Giansiracusa’s final game with this quote. The Last Waltz, he called it. I picked his book, Murphy’s Lore, off the shelf this morning and read the column again.


Like a lot of what Bob has written, it is poignant and I related to it – easily. He wrote about the morning routine he would share with ‘Gia’ and how much he would miss it.


I also read the column before the most recent game of hockey I played, in March 2016. Sitting in the sun in Sheffield, but still freezing, it was part of the morning preparation for the British University Hockey Final that would be my final game for Exeter University. We lost. I haven’t played since.


Bob was right – I miss the camaraderie of those teammates immensely. I think more about them now than I do about the fact we lost, and could’ve won.


A month later, I’m in bed on a Sunday morning, still in England, watching the final quarter of the Dogs and the Hawks. It’s tight. Sicily marks and I’m unusually pissed off that the rising Dogs will lose. Murphy is injured. Really injured.


I go back to writing my dissertation, but really, I’m a 22-year old masquerading as a student. My primary concern is the condition of a knee that belongs to a footballer no one within a 16,000 km radius of me seems to know anything about.


Fast forward to September. I’m at the MCG, on a Friday night, and the Dogs are conquering the Hawks. I’m living in Footscray. Richmond’s season fell in a hole a long time ago. I want the Dogs to win. It seems right. The Older Sister feels the same.


Aside from the Bont, the entertainment is provided by a gregarious bloke sat behind us, with a beer in hand. He’s funny, but his poor wife doesn’t know whether to laugh along, or apologise.


With every Tory Dickson goal, he loudly wonders who on earth would call their son ‘Tory’. As the Dogs take hold, he loudly proclaims that he’s going to Sydney. His wife isn’t too keen on the idea.


The game ends and the champions are dethroned. Old mate still wants to go Sydney. God, I want to go to Sydney. We strike up a conversation on the way out. He lives in Maribyrnong and supports Richmond (pre-September).


I get a ticket to the Prelim, but I can’t get a flight from Melbourne, so I give the ticket to The Younger Sister, who flies to the game from Adelaide. She wears a Bulldogs scarf. They win. We fear she might be lost forever from the Tiger Train.


Grand Final Week. Footscray is mad. Melbourne is mad. We want the Dogs to win. Melbourne wants the Dogs to win. Murphy won’t play, but he’s ever-present, especially in our minds.


There are no scriptwriters in sport. There is no design and no plan, just chaos. The Bulldogs know heartbreak in a way Tiger fans do not.


I cried about football growing up, but when your team is as bad as Richmond, you can’t cry every time you lose. I can’t remember every crying because of a Richmond loss. I cried, age four, when I dropped my Matthew Rogers badge under a train at Richmond Station. And I occasionally cried when we pulled a win out of nowhere.


But Bulldogs fans, with their Preliminary Final losses and their desperate longing for a second flag, know heartbreak. They need something monumental to spark their tears of joy. Those tears flow for true Dogs fans after the Preliminary Final and in Grand Final week. They’re laced with the years of sadness and disappointment, the endless yearning for the glorious September afternoon that kept slipping away. And they’re laced with an acknowledgement of the imperfection of the whole thing. Their favourite son won’t play. This isn’t how it was meant to be, but beggars can’t be choosers.


I shed a few Bulldog tears on Grand Final Day, when it became apparent they would win, and when Bob was pulled onto the dais.


Murphy was the figure who drew me towards the Bulldogs flag. That he didn’t play was a cruel but obvious reminder that no story is perfect, and if it is, you’re not looking hard enough.


This week, I revisited Murphy’s Grand Final day column for The Age.


“If you don’t win the last game of the year, who gives a shit?”

Billy Beane in Moneyball


“You take it on faith, you take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


Waiting for the last game of the season with Brunswick is my lot for the next three weeks. If we can finish the home and away season with a win tomorrow, we will record the first unbeaten year in club history. But this piece isn’t the place to wonder if anyone will give a shit if we don’t finish it off and win the flag. To steal another one from Bob, “That’s my little loch that I shall keep locked” (for now).


Barring a miraculous set of results this weekend, Bob will play his final game.


There’s a bit of him in all of us.


Everyone is Bob, and everyone’s Bob.


So, thanks Bob. Thanks for having the right words, the right quotes, for every moment; for pulling me into that miraculous flag; for that ridiculous goal a couple of weeks ago at Etihad; and for reminding me that we play sport for camaraderie, and for wins – in that order.

About Jack Banister

Journalism student @ Melbourne Uni, Brunswick Hockey Club Men's Coach, tortured Tigers fan.


  1. bob.speechley says

    Kind reflection on a true National Treasure. Bob Murphy is an easy going person with enormous skill and fortitude who was one hundred percent behind the Bulldogs success in 2016. The Doggies can only be thankful he was a fixture in the side for so long.

  2. Thanks Bob – he is a treasure. Glad he’s written so much. Will make it hard to forget him.

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Those columns were the highlight of my week for as long as they went in Wed or Thurs’ papers, Jack. As a Swannie, I can’t say I was behind the Doggies’ premiership last year, but Bob transcends any kind of tribal loyalty. I think I’ve said it before on this site, but how I would love to have a bowl of pasta and a glass of red with him at Pellegrini’s and chew the fat for an hour or two. And then walk down Bourke Street, hands in pockets.

    He was one I should have mentioned in my Ode to Defence! Oh gosh, I should have mentioned him!! I think I’m in denial that he’s leaving …

  4. Beautiful stuff, Jack. Once it REALLY IS mathematically impossible for the Dogs to win the 2017 flag, I think my heart will be firmly with the Tigers!

  5. Jack
    I’m afraid this piece contributes to the argument in my “Dog of a year” article about “enough already with the sentimentality about the Mutts” but I think I made it clear that it is impossible not to like Bob. I’ll be fascinated to see what he does post-football.

  6. Absolutely Mathilde. The book is a classic – something always amusing if you open a random page.

    Thanks Gigs – I hope mathematics prevail. But I don’t want to finish fifth and play you!

    Stainless – just read your column. I agree with a lot of it, but I won’t forget last year in a hurry. Maybe it did drag on too long. I think we definitely overrated the Dogs ahead of this year. They finished 7th and hit a form at the right time.

    But the energy in September was quite unusual and quite unlike anything I can remember.

    I’ll go back to Moneyball – “How can you not be romantic about baseball (or sport)?”

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