Fitzroy: Part I

Fitzroy Pt. 1


Lou barracked for Geelong and had a wicked laugh. All bongs and cackles. I’d had my wost year ever, at the club I liked least, and had qualified for reserves finals. Fuck the ‘locals first’ policy. I played a corker. We lost anyway. The season was done.

As planned, Lou and I ran off the oval, grabbed our bags, and still fully kitted, covered in mud and sweat, leapt into my rusty V8 and planted it.

For all his ratbag ways, Lou was, not many knew, a biologist, and bit of a genius. Over-qualified for everything except life. He did the maths. We were a long, long way from Melbourne, two highways, a few rural cities, towns, truck stops, suburbs and about fifty traffic lights between us and the MCG.

“If we average 120kms per hour, we’ll get there in time for Fitzroy’s last real fifteen minutes on earth,” he said.

“Fuck yeah,” I said, already pushing it into high revs, knocking about the two randoms in the back we’d somehow sucked up in our wake.

“Jesus, Matty,” one of them said, as we fell over a rise and hit 160 on the straight. Lou let loose that laugh of his. Had another hit on his pocket billy. I hated the stuff, but we were a rag-tag crew chasing pride. After game beer in my hand, I didn’t give a damn.

“What if we get done?” Lou asked, matter-of fact.

“Then the dream is over,” I told him.

“Dream?” he said.

“We all die, I reckon. We’re all history. It’s how we handle it that matters. I mean, you ever been in a grouse relationship that’s haunted you because of its last five minutes?”

Before he could reply we hit a bend.

Philosophy on the curves at about 130. It didn’t make it right, but, sometimes, so damn what.

“If he cops pull us over, we’ll tell them: ‘It’s a matter of DEATH…!’” Lou said. “Then explain.”

“If they’re human, we’ll get an escort,” I said.

We almost hoped we’d get pulled over. Just for the long shot of that coming true. I knew Lou was thinking it, because I knew he knew I was thinking it. He gave me that look that broke into a laugh. A real, ripper cackle.

Lou held the wheel while I took my footy boots off, throwing them into the back like stink bombs. The two blokes pissed and moaned. To this day I have no idea who they were.

Lou and I worked in a factory on minimum wage. We didn’t even know how we were going to pay for fuel home. It didn’t matter. This was important. Sorta everything. To me, anyway.

Saying good-bye.


My beloved Roy Boys.


We drove hard. If you listened close to the hurting pistons, you could hear my battered, rattling XB whispering ‘Please, let me die.’ We were Fitzroy. Hopeless, proud. Anything but practical.

Fuck practical. That’s what killed us.




  1. Matt Webber says

    Pocket billlies!. Memories of leave-work-early-Friday-two-car-convoys to the early Byron Blues Fests. The ones we’re they actually played blues. Funny!

  2. Matt Zurbo says

    Matt, I have friends from a couple of bands that play there most years and I think, “Good Stuff!” and am stoked for them, but they are not really blues. I would have LOVED to have been on one of those missions with you. Big Time! Very jealous.

  3. Malby Dangles says

    I hope I never have to contemplate the death of my footy club.
    Looking forward to Part 2 Matty.

  4. Matt Webber says

    They were good days, Matt. But the ‘blues only’ reference was to the era, not the music… Back when the tents were small, the mud was serious, and the only sniffer dogs you’d see would be as a result of something you’d ingested. If it was only blues I wouldn’t have got Bob D twice last year and Wilco the year before that…Wilco…what a freakin’ band…

  5. Matt Zurbo says

    Matt, yeah, I meant more so what you did. Blues or no, a festival, band, radio station, when starting has a rawness, an impractical unpredictablilty to it. A freedom. I wonder what the first ever Big Day Out was like? Imagine if they held Woodstock every year? Would lose that stupid, fantastic IT for sure.Did Andre Williams every play Byron?

  6. Malby Dangles says

    Yeah Andre Williams played Byron in 2000. I was there!

  7. Wah! Am green!
    Please tell me one of the Almanacers saw Bo Diddley!

  8. I saw him in Byron pre Blues Festival era. May even have a poster in storage somewhere. Although chances of it been devoured by paper wasps are high.

    Was at the first BDO. Drove from Brisbane with a mate and a girl who was my girlfriend when we planned the trip, but was an ex by the time we made it. (We needed the petrol money!) I remember Nirvana were tragic. They had blown up big as a result of Nevermind, and Kurt was deep into the demons. I wlked out and saw You Am I (when they were a rock band) doing it up for the 200 or so who could see through the Nirvana sham. Celibate Rifles were great on the big stage. And the Hard Ons performing Let There Be Rock live with Henry Rollins was a highlight. Love the road trip for any reason!

  9. Gus, I hear you! we could trade road trip stories! I am going on one in a few months, from Tassie to Warrnambool (the roads might be a bit wet and slippery on that bit!), back across the bottom of Victoria, all the way up to Far North Qld. Just me and dog and ute, working odd jobs, stopping in on old teammates, kids I coached and chasing good music. Be cool if I met ya on the way.

    Hard-Ons and Rollins. Man,that’s just bragging.

    And Bo Diddley? Sweet Jesus…

  10. Hang on!! Aren’t you in the Middle East?!?!

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