First Game Denied

All dressed up and nowhere to go. I’m a much grottier and far less elegant embodiment of that well worn phrase.

I can’t remember the date or even the year. I’m guessing mid-1980s and by the look of that dishevelled bunny on the wall behind me it must have been sometime after Easter. All I know for sure is that a severe injustice had been done earlier that day; I’d been denied the chance to make my VFL debut. My older siblings had earlier trotted off to the footy with Dad. I’d been stopped at the door of our house, like a little kid denied a ride on a theme park rollercoaster because he didn’t meet the height restrictions.

Stuck at home with Mum, I guess we listened to the game on the radio but all I could do was lament my status as the youngest of four kids. No doubt we’d watch the replay that night before Hey Hey it’s Saturday started––but it wasn’t the same.

Mum insisted that I had already been to a big league game, a few years previously at Waverley. I can’t remember that far back. Probably because I was watching that pre-season game from the womb. Was it Ansett Cup or Fosters Cup? That didn’t matter, all I knew was that Greg Norman’s Mum had played golf while she was pregnant with him. I believed it was an omen. I’d become a big footy star when I grew up.

Turned out it wasn’t an omen. But I can’t understand that because judging by this picture I even had Gary Ablett Senior’s rounded shoulders.

So there I stood. A slight look of bemusement on my face. The door handle behind me is a great reference point: I was tiny. I can now understand why I wasn’t allowed to tag along to Windy Hill that day.

The jumper and beanie are self explanatory. I was mad about the Bombers. Dad and my brother had seen to that.

The socks are confusing. I can’t place them to a particular team. Maybe New South Wales? More likely that a pair of my sister’s Geelong socks had run in the wash.

The state of my tracksuit pants? I was a kid, I was allowed to be grubby.

It wouldn’t be long before I’d finally make my VFL debut and long winter afternoons would be spent in the outer at Windy Hill. Then I would experience weaving through the imposing crowd, searching for a vantage point and perching on my tippy toes to see my hero Terry Daniher. There was also Watson, Van Der Haar and Madden. Windy Hill holds a special place in my heart. Even now––years later––the smell of stale beer cans always reminds me of the outer at that old suburban ground.

I can’t really remember the actual first game I eventually went to. But the memory of missing out on the day of this photo has been etched into my memory forever.


About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.


  1. greg mcmahon says

    genius, the smell of woffting windy hill beers, with the defeaning sound of ‘ball’ from the dick reynolds stand. Genius place for footy

  2. Thanks Ged. Great piece, but the photo is priceless.
    The cherubic grin. The wall decorations. The beanie and the jumper worn with obvious pride.
    But those tracky dacks!!? Had Mum run out of Rinso, or had she been on the golf course all week with Mrs Norman and not got around to the washing basket? More likely you were such an ‘active’ lad that you reduced them to that state within a half hour of them emerging pristine from the washing line (no offence meant Mrs McMahon Snr)

  3. I’ll take the “active” lad explanation Peter. Just in case Mum reads this …. Haha.

  4. Superb! I remember dad contructed a little stool for me to use at windy hill. To this day I’m still upset that a then 16 year old timmy Watson didn’t reply to my fan mail!!

  5. Skip of Skipton says

    The toilets where you stood facing each other from either side of the urinals is what I remember most about Windy Hill.

Leave a Comment