Footy Almanac Melbourne Launch 2010

Spraying the mist onto my face and arms, I could feel the soothe of the sunburn I acquired umpiring cricket all day. Stupid me, I should’ve applied more sunscreen. Now I’ll face the consequences. And it didn’t help that it was a stinking hot night. It felt like Christmas Eve, the warm air of the night was filtering through the windows of the house, giving it a very quaint feeling. But it wasn’t Christmas Eve. It was Footy Almanac Launch Eve.

Barely able to sleep, I woke at the usual school-time of 7:00am, and sat around relaxing. Mum was working, Dad was in Shepparton. He promised to buy me the Footy Almanac from Book City, as it was in stores. I awaited him to get home; it would be a few more hours until he would though. I got into a cold shower, and felt my burns easing some more, but I was still red as a tomato. “Not even any form of make-up could fix that,” I thought to myself. Nor would I want to use make-up.

Knowing it was Remembrance Day, but not knowing what the time was, I quickly dried myself, not directly forcing the towel onto my face. I went into the loungeroom and saw that it was 10:55, perfect. I observed a minute’s silence, like the rest of Australia, from the couch. Lest We forget.

Finally I heard the grumbling of the car pulling into the garage. Mum handed me a book wrapped in a paper bag. I tore it off, and saw Jonathon Brown staring at me. I’ll admit, I didn’t like the cover when it was first previewed on the website, but it looks awesome on the book. Good choice, good painting. I had a quick flick through, but wanted to save reading the reports for the trip down to Melbourne. Mum and Dad slowly got organised, and we got in the car for the three hour trip. I feared we’d be late.

It didn’t feel right having the Almanac in my hands before the Launch though, so I didn’t want to read too much of it. It was hard to keep concentrated on it, and I ended up reading Round One and a few other reports from the other teenage Almanackers, all absolute beauties. We stopped at my sister’s work at the Shepparton News to grab a camera off her, as I don’t quite trust ours, and hers is top notch. We finally left Shepp, and it was just past 2:00. I still had a worrying concern that we’d be late.

With my head half buried in the book and looking out the window, I listened to my iPod. Gazing out of the car, I noticed we were in Coburg. Hang on, how the hell did we get here so quick? We drove past Danielle Eid’s school. I knew she would be undergoing an exam at the time, poor girl. I contemplated asking Dad to honk the horn, but that might’ve put her off. We got through Coburg quickly, which was a surprise, it usually takes forever with the stop-start traffic. We drove past Princes Park, and decided to head for Lygon Street, not far at all from the Clyde Hotel. We had plenty of time. I relaxed.

We found a good park in a fairly deserted street just past Lygon Street. We headed for Percy Jones’ pub for a refreshment, and I got a photo with Percy himself, as well as some guy that kept insisting I get a picture with him. It was Jimmy Buckley.

After that, we went for a casual stroll, and headed into a shopping centre for a look. It was 5:10, so I nudged Mum and told her we better get going. We dragged Dad kicking and screaming out of the beer shop, and headed back to the car.

You couldn’t tell we were from the country. Opening two car doors on each side, we ducked in between and stripped and got changed. I wore a singlet and shorts for the ride down, so I quickly got into my jeans and black shirt. A car zoomed past the still-fairly deserted street, beeping the horn at us. I grabbed some hair wax from the back of the car to apply, and we all brushed our teeth, leaving a big puddle of spit. After we were all ready, we jumped in the car and drove for a better parking spot near the Clyde.

We found a near identical park that Dad used for the Almanac Grand Final Lunch a couple of months ago. This time, we wouldn’t get a parking ticket. I put my Argentina North Melbourne jumper on as we walked away from the car. A helicopter circled in the air above us. “Gee, Daff could’ve just came in a car,” Mum remarked. We headed through the beer garden of the Clyde, and much like last year, I was the first of the teen tribe to arrive.

I grabbed an Almanac and went to a table, feigning surprise as if it was the first time I’d read it. Dips O’Donnell’s brother stood with me, and we had a little chat. Next thing, Steve Healy was right next to me. He surprised me, his hair was longer and he was taller. Speaking of tallness, Adam Bulman arrived next, fresh from his last Year 12 exam. He awkwardly maneuvered himself past a plant to get to the toilets to get changed into his Richmond guernsey. We went inside the pub, and had a little chat with a few people. Phil Dimitriadis introduced himself to me, and we had a great chat about the differences between the 1977 and 2010 drawn Grand Finals. Darren “Smokie” Dawson, fellow North Melbourne supporter, greeted me, and we shared our enthusiasm towards the new AFL season, a season in which North Melbourne will finish in the top eight. Damian Watson arrived, and we formed a little circle, having a chat with John Butler, who I gave a Waaia shirt for all the support throughout the year, and having to put up with about four emails from me every weekend during the footy season. We were missing someone though, and I kept my eye towards the entrance, waiting for him to arrive. The aura surrounding his red hair soon caught my attention, and I knew Michael Allan had arrived. We greeted, before going outside, away from the stuffy room, and into the alleyway that made itself famous at last year’s launch. We rang Susie Giese, the grandmother of the group, and had an awkward conversation with her on loudspeaker, which we all got the impression that she couldn’t understand us. She also made me temporarily deaf in one ear, as I put the phone up to my ear to see if she was still there, and she chose that moment to say something, quite loudly in fact. We hurried back inside though, fearing that the launcher had already started speaking.

As we got back into the pub, nothing interesting had happened yet. We hung around the doorway so we could have a conversation without having to repeat ourselves due to the noise. Jeff Paterson arrived, with his cousin in tow; it was good to see him there. Daff was just starting to bundle everyone together for a group photo, so we all squeezed in. I awkwardly kneeled next to Michael, and taking Domenic Favata’s position, sorry mate. The photos were taken, and the speeches were ready to begin.

Gerard Whatley was the guest speaker, and he gave a wonderful speech, while John Harms again kept everyone laughing, but it was emotional. Everyone who was there would know why. Tim Adam received a rockstar reception when he came in, aided by a walking stick. You could tell he was getting a kick out of it. The speeches went on, and they provided many laughs.

I went to get Gerard’s signature in my book, as did many of the others, and we proceeded to go outside into the alleyway again to kick the footy that Jeff had brought with him. We casually kicked it between ourselves, before Mum appeared, wanting a group shot of us guys. As Adam went to retrieve the ball from the deep end of the alleyway, I quietly said to myself “Don’t kick it Adam,” but he proceeded to boot it high up in the air towards us. My stomach dropped as I saw it float through the air towards a second-tier balcony, and it landed right outside the windows up the building. Well, that’s another footy lost. But, miraculously, the footy had bounced around a pillar, and dropped back down, landing in someone’s hands. It was remarkable.

We got our picture taken, before going back inside to do some book signing. We all awkwardly passed around our books, with the use of only two pens, and I went looking for John Harms to give him the Waaia shirt I also got for him. Adam and his Dad left, then Michael and Damo went back home, before Steve left as well. I got a couple of photos, and Mum, Dad and I went for a walk to a pizza place to get some food. We returned to the Clyde to say some goodbyes, before venturing back towards the car. The Footy Almanac launch was over for another year for me, and it’s gonna be a long wait for the next one, yet again.

As we drove back home to Waaia, it hit 12:30am when we pulled into the garage. Up for school in six hours. Great. I made my case for a sicky.

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. John Butler says

    Thanks again for the shirt Josh. Very astute of you to realise the editors are wide open to all forms of financial inducement.

    Some guy! Jimmy Buckley! Legend!

    I can just picture JTH and Daff arriving by helicopter. Must work on that for next year.

  2. “The grandmother of the group”? Excuse me? :P

    LOL, the deafness factor was your own fault. :P Note to Joshy: when someone is on speakerphone, refrain from placing the phone right next to your ear :P

    Great report, though. Sounded like a ripper of a night!!! :D

  3. JB I bet he didnt warn you it had a bombers insignia on did he?LOL

  4. 1: No worries JB, glad it fits well. Don’t know if JTH’s fits yet or not.

    A helicopter would do wonders for me out in Waaia.

    2: Thanks Grandmother Giese. I sent your book off an hour ago. :)

    3: Could be worse, at least it’s not a Collingwood logo haha.

  5. Devestated that I was stuck in Sydney and missed the launch. Thanks for making me feel like I was there Josh.

  6. Thnaks for the low-down on the launch Josh, helps us Nackers scattered far and wide feel what the occasion was like.
    Now does anyone know how to get to the Taswegia launch from Hobart to Wynyard, way up beyond the Boags – Cascade Line?

  7. Sounds like a good time was had by all. I love the details of the kick to kick in the alley. It is important to maintain tradition. With all those teenagers hanging around there is no excuse for that not to continue until at least 2050!

    Rocket and I will be holding the International Edition launch in Abu Dhabi sometime mid December. You are all invited. Probably in my living room…

  8. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says


    Look forward to your review of the Abu Dhabi Falcons win over the Dubai Dingoes yesterday!

    You should be able to offer a unique review given your role as an active participant on this occassion.

    The punters need to know about your pinch-hitting role as reserve ruckman – resplendent with mo and headband and mop of grey-blond hair I initially thought it was Carl Robert Ditterich going for the knock-outs – it was classic ruck work from the 60s – great palming of the ball a la Polly Farmer! Well done.

  9. How many people were there Josh?

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