Almanac (Fantasy) Football: From plastic footballs and footy boots to my fantas-tic obsession!



From plastic footballs and footy boots to my fantas-tic obsession!

I have a confession to make. Well, it’s not really a confession because it is so bleeding obvious. From the age of 7 when we landed in this country, I have become obsessed with Australian Rules football.

I feel that I can talk to you all, because if you’re reading blogs on something called The Footy Almanac, there is some chance you enjoy sport, and might even share my addiction.

Growing up in rather poor circumstances at first, I played endlessly by myself in a fantasy world kicking my plastic footy with my plastic footy boots. Little did I know then, but this preoccupation, although sometimes suppressed, was never to leave me.

Decades passed and I probably cumulatively spent at least one of them playing sport, watching footy on TV, and going to footy matches.

And then someone invented Fantasy Football.

At the time I was teaching a Year 5 class (10-year-olds) and I came up with a novel idea of enjoying this newfound fixation by including it in the class maths program. Every child in the class picked a fantasy AFL team and, on Monday morning, we all set about working out our Fantasy scores. Of course, before Champion Data and the computer did this, it involved converting statistics by adding and multiplying – and then ranking. The kids seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, probably because it made a refreshing change from a dry and lifeless Maths textbook.

These children grew up, as is the want, and some years later as a group of young men (and mainly from this class), they invited me into their own AFL Fantasy Footy League. Although nearly twice their age, I felt honoured to be remembered.

Many of them played in a SA Amateur League team called the Adelaide Lutheran Football Team. Marley (my wife) and I would go and watch the occasional game and, when the final siren blew, these sweaty young men would throw off their jumpers, grab a cold beer, and come and stand around their old teacher and talk Fantasy Footy. This would have made no sense to those within earshot. You see, Fantasy Football has its own language. Terms like cash cows, donuts, loopholes, pigs, piglets, guns and rookies and PODs will only make sense to the Fantasy community. For years our teams battled it out and I managed to win twice.

These men inevitably married, had kids, and found they didn’t have the time for Fantasy anymore. They moved from Fantasy Classic to Draft and when they decided to gather to select their teams over coldies and late into the night, I just knew I had outgrown their very kind welcome. How was I going to keep up with a flock of guys, when all I wanted to drink was red wine and be in bed by 9.30pm?

However, still obsessed with Fantasy Classic, I continued on, usually finishing in the top 1%, but never cracking the Top 100. On one occasion during Bye Round 14 in 2018 I was coming 2nd for a short time (because my players played the early games). By the end of that Round, I had dropped well away.

Of course, now that I am retired, I can watch footy endlessly, read all of the AFL Footy website, listen to podcasts by the Fantasy experts including Roy, Calvin and Warnie (all schoolteachers – I wonder if there is a link?) and construct spreadsheets.

I’ve managed to encourage a number of my Sprocket Rocket friends (a Barossa Valley Social Cycling and Coffee-ing Club I started 3 years ago) into starting teams this year. One of them is such a mad-keen Crow that he’s just about filled his team with Adelaide players. If this concept works, it will revolutionise Fantasy Football.

I was also thrilled that some of my ex-students are also taking on their old teacher again.

There’s still plenty of room in our ‘Sprocket Rocket Classic League’ – – and code LEN2NAHR gets you in. Feel free to join up. Who knows, we might catch up one day at a Footy Almanac do and bore the pants off those around us by talking Fantasy!

I feel it is fair to warn you though. It can become something that takes up a lot of time. Unless you are single, or in a strong relationship, it can put stresses on a marriage, and there are times when my eyes glaze over as I consider whether Clayton Oliver or Jack Macrae would make the better captain of my team. Many of you might view my hobby as a waste of time. It’s a little left-field, but it suits me – and isn’t it a good thing that we are all different.


To read more on the Almanac by Andy Thurlow click here.


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Born on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, my parents migrated to this wonderful country when I was 7. As teachers, my wife and I ‘worked’ in some pretty SA and Queensland tourist locations and ended up in the Barossa Valley, where I enjoy gardening, socialising, reading, writing, sport, travel, handyman projects and wine. Since retiring I’ve written 3 published biographies about Kieran Modra, Rolph and Marg Mayer and Margaret Ames. I started a Valley social cycling and coffee-ing club called the ‘Sprocket Rockets’ After some success at hockey, volleyball, tennis, golf, Church picnic sprints and the ‘Henley on Todd’ regatta, I’ve settled down to walking, cycling, Fantasy Football and watching sport, particularly AFL and cricket. A Queenslander described me as an ‘Ex-Pommie, ex-Victorian who barracks for Port Adelaide’ so it can only be up from there!


  1. An interesting yarn, Andy.

    I was an early adopter of fantasy football, but quickly discovered that I was obsessing over it far too much. It was consuming so much time! I purposely disengaged, and have not partaken for many years.

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