From your new Almanac correspondent above the Arctic Circle ….an Introduction

Through no fault of my own, I have a lot in common with John Harms. We are both the same age, both love our country, both have a full head of hair with a sprinkling of grey, both are parents and no doubt married to extremely patient wives, both have had more than one career or incarnation of our identity and both love a good story however tall.


I have come from a family with a strong faith tradition, went to University (I have been on three different occasions) and did more playing of Baseball and water bombing than studying, in my case boarding at the seminary college in Sydney for Baptists when trying to complete my first degree. I now have three including a Master’s degree in Teaching, what a miracle!


I now am a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school having been a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – three different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.


I too like John have owned a Mini Moke. What a great car (I have actually had two along the journey both in Canberra when I was a young buck …can you believe it!!!). Owning a car without doors in minus 4 July mornings in Canberra was cold I can tell you.


Yes, I too have worn a questionably coloured skivvy with a turtle neck, have questioned my faith roots yet continue to look for the true decency in people. I too, love to hear every day stories and have loved the way he has garnered support from a wide range of Aussies through the Footy Almanac movement.


I have a love of horses like John, though not the punt, thank goodness (which I’m sure has saved me a fair few dollars over the years) and grew up in the pride of the Riverina that is Junee home of the Junee Diesels (best nickname in any sport although the Capella Cattledogs gives them a run for their money). Our house was right next door to the stable of the wonderful stallion “Welcome Advice” who won the Inter-Dominion back in the early `70s. Incidentally Welcome Advice was the first horse to win more than $100,000 in one race (which was massive money back then ), and I have show-jumped and mustered on quite a few farms.


There is, I believe, a wonderful spiritual dimension to what has occurred on this winding Almanac journey. That is, by letting people express what is within, by the ordinary power of people telling their story within their own context. There as a result of these articles inevitably arises within each story, a subtle search for meaning which sprinkled with some Aussie humour and a depth of understanding means that people who read the articles can go beyond the superficial skin deep meaning and find satisfaction in acknowledging that there are other people who have a similar experience to them.


In my own journey, I have taken funerals, taught about the wonder of photosynthesis, worked on the streets of Hollywood with street kids and learnt about the human condition in so many different spots around this amazing planet we call home.


There is something marvellous about “true” sport. You know not the commercial ad-driven Big Bash type of event even though I have to admit, I love watching it for the skills on show and just the frenetic nature of it.


So back in the land of Oz, where else can one sit with all your Tiger gear on and abuse the S **t out of people or take the P**s out of them. So, when the siren sounds at the end of the game just turn and shake hands with a lawyer from KPMG, a principal from Darwin, two nurses who have just come back from Afghanistan and say “see you later”. This all happens without a gun in sight or a sense of true patriotic hatred but rather the benediction of a shared communal experience. (This was after a particularly memorable win for the strong and the bold Tigers versus Lions game at the sensational ‘Gabba on a balmy June Saturday night).


I find myself now in 2019 at another turn in life looking for new ways to connect with people. To find a shared reality not with hidden agendas and or not just through the superficial twitter verse but where one can reflect, take time to ingest and just drink in the wonder that it is being alive on this planet.


Yesterday I saw for the first time in my life, the Arctic Ocean, completely frozen solid (not me, the sea!). I had thermals top and bottom, three layers of clothing plus snow pants, solid skidoo boots, a musk rat fur hat and Canada Goose Parka for company with a cold yellow full moon on the horizon. I looked out at nothing except ice between me and the North Pole, amazing. Literally, I was on top of the world. I kept saying to myself “just drink it in, mate, drink it in” this was incredible life-giving moment.


I drove with a colleague at “night” – (well the sun is not coming up ‘til mid-January) through the full moonlight across the frozen Tundra with the Northern Lights dancing for company above us in our truck ( it was -35 C outside) as we headed south back to where I am based ‘til June. After seeing the magic of the coastline coupled with Pingos (google what they are you’ll be impressed) in an amazing place the locals call “Tuk” (Tuktoyaktuk) I was changed for life.


There are so many stories that will emerge from your humble Arctic correspondent …


So I come to December 2019 and as you read this, I am high above the Arctic Circle for a year volunteering as an education monitor in the North West Territories of Canada (check out my blog at


I have had the chance to wear the yellow sash and black with pride (there is no formal dress code at the institution I volunteer at) as I enjoyed back in September watching the big game on TSN 2 with a bemused bunch of Canadians drinking Bud. Then after the Giant Slaying, I walked outside at 3am on Saturday morning (as an aside, yes I got to enjoy Grand Final day twice because of the time difference) and saw the northern lights in all their glory, incredible! What a day and night! I then raced back to where have been living, pulled out the tripod and got amazing shots finally climbing into bed at 5 -30 am on Grand Final day 2019 already knowing the result!


These Canadians just don’t get the rules but anyway it’s cool to be able to try and educate some of them. I have brought two Sherrin’s with me (one is one that my brother gave me that ironically is a Giants’ ball given out at the end of a game in Sydney !!!). My biggest regret was not being able to be at the Gabba back home in Bris Vegas in September to see “the Tiges” dismantle the Lions in my home town – Oh well – got to listen to Quentin Hull and the gang on the radio in the middle of the night (very cool thank you ABC listen app).


Invariably as a keen collector of all things Jersey, Jumper, guernsey and top; I must list (in Almanac tradition) the teams I tend to keep a closer eye due to some ill-gotten allegiance or experience that has scarred me for life. In a basic order of precedence (which tends to change considering what time zone I’m in) except for Number One Richmond from top to bottom:


Richmond Tigers – is there any other team? – much more to come on this topic
Western Suburbs Magpies (sorry the Wests Tigers more to come on that subject)
Toronto Blue Jays – go Robbie Alomar the best infielder in the 90s got to see them in August – amazing atmosphere, good tickets, a good vibe for the last-placed Jays in the AL East – Hate those Yankees and Red Sox
Aussie Cricket Team – men and women
West Ham United – this time around Christmas I start to get nervous; will they stay up?
Green Bay Packers – no other NFL franchise is owned by the town they play in, let’s keep it that way
NSW in the State of Origin – yes, I’ve been in Queensland for over 25 years but I’m still a cockroach!!
Any team that plays the Toronto Maple Leafs (they are the Collingwood of the NHL) I’m not sure which NHL team I’ll pick yet – I’m leaning towards the Ottawa Senators I don’t know why?
Brisbane Heat – only if the tickets are giveaways and Chris Lynn is playing (what a hitter!)
Scotland in the Six Nations
Oh, and the Wallabies because as an old Rugby player and coach I still can’t understand what has happened to the game they play in heaven because they don’t play it in the way it should be played here on Earth.


So, as I humbly accept the role of the Arctic Footy Almanac correspondent ‘til June 2020, I want to acknowledge John Harms with his vision and energy in making the dream of the Footy Almanac alive. I want to say in all sincerity, I love the fact that he has (along with the Almanac team) brought us Aussies together.
He has legitimised with his keen sense of story, his ability to make us laugh, as well as just “chewing the fat” about the footy to be given the opportunity to express how we feel in a safe place.

The Almanac team has given people the chance to write and express themselves (in the world dominated by the sound-byte) giving us poor mortals like me, a chance to write and develop an argument or three about their lot in life.



The Tigers Almanac 2019 is out NOW.
Order copies HERE.

Orders will be posted from Dec 11.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Richard Marlow

a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school in Brisbane having being a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – 3 different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.


  1. Hi Richard,

    When the Almanac started I didn’t entertai the idea that we might have a regularcorrespondent from the far reaches of the Arctic circle.

    What’s the village called?

    Thanks for the lovely words about the Almanac concept. It’s always good to be reassured that there are those out there who appreciate what the community is about.

    We will also see the best of the Almanac concept when the community gets together to launch The Tigers Almanac tomorrow night. So,as a Tigers fan, raise aglassat about 7pm Tuesday night – whatever that timetranslatestofor you.

    As for the crazy coincidences, what model Mini Mokes did you own? Mine was a 1978 Californian. I don’t think I ever got a photo unfortunately.

    We look forward to hearing more.


  2. Hey Richard,.
    I did enjoy this piece. Thanks for sharing\
    I have not been as far north as you in that amazing place call Canada, where many places have -35 degrees as the norm for 6 or more months of the year.
    I can tell you that the NHL is the National Hockey League, which spans the borders, with teams from USA and Canada,
    Our son-in-law and grandsons play ice hockey in Melbourne so we looked for the Melfort Mustangs while we were there
    JFTR Saskatoon has 17 ice hockey rinks in their city of 272,211 souls!

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