Grand Final 2016 – The mystery is that there is no mystery



“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”
-Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses


On my friend’s couch; with a stubby of Old Mate Pale Ale followed by a Footscray Ale, we feel it. After Vika and Linda’s glorious a cappella, we feel the rumble.

For all the romance of a fairytale; for all the unlikelihood of David besting Goliath; for all the blessed emotional Dogs during the week; for the retweeting of images of Franco Cozzo; for Matt flying in for the game and Almanac lunch from San Francisco; for Dean getting a seat at the game with his Mum; for the love of Bob Murphy; for the stories that Bob Murphy’s parents themselves told at the Footy Almanac Grand Final Eve lunch; for wave after crashing wave of emotional investment and belief, for all that; we feel the rumble of footy.

For, whether because of, or despite being impossibly charged on an explosively flammable rocket fuel of emotion, this is an annually scheduled footy game of unique worth. Of unique mythology. Of characters immortalised. Of deeds forever remembered. A Grand Final.

And as the last notes of this national anthem are tribally displaced from earshot, with a sense of theatre already well present in the arena, a new sense of football takes over for the first time in a week. After a week crammed with speculation, imagination and adulation.


This is it.


Why are we doing this?
The 99,900 at the ground.
Me with mates on a Geelong West couch.
Kids stopping their movie scripting/acting/directing “What’s the score?”
Friends in Geneva, up early to the pub to watch.


“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


And it is on.
It is J Kennedy as He-Man, arriving at Castle Greyskull.
It is L Parker as Clark Kent, unbuttoning the top three buttons and striding it out.
It is M Bontempelli as Pat Rafter, racing the net for a diving backhand volley.
It is D Morris as Bob the Builder, hard hat affixed.
It is soaking, sapping, lead-changing grind and run and tackle and burst.
And when it can’t go on any longer – it does.


“And what else could we have come here for, except to sense these tiny victories? Not the big victories that crush and kill the victor. Not the wars and civil ructions, but the saving grace of a Hollandaise sauce that has escaped all the possibilities of culinary disaster and is being spread like a yellow prayer on a plump cod steak – victoriously.”
-Sebastian Barry, On Canaan’s Side


Why are we doing this?
Two hours later, screaming, yelling, riding the bumps.
“Come on!”


All month (year? years?) the Dogs with their “why not us?”
Swans, too, with their reasons.

“My Bulldogs don’t have the market cornered when it comes to romance.”
-Bob Murphy,



And dark has been the road.
For many.
Each of us navigating our own darknesses.
For what appears as dark for one, is light for another.
And who can truthfully tell what lies around the next corner?


“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
-Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men


And now…
“Ohhhh – Dale Morris you ROCK!!”

Faith in self.
Faith in people.


“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring





“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


And now…
“Tom Boyd!!!”
“They have done it!”
“They can’t be beaten now!”


And now, even later, presentations underway: “Bob, this one’s for you…”
Why are we crying?
“Totally crying here” – message from a pub in early morning Geneva, from a Melbourne friend –abroad, having kept her interest in footy well concealed for the past 10 years.
“Lake is freezing” – a later message from Geneva where an early morning skinny dip seemed the only logical next course of action.


“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
-R.J. Palacio, Wonder


“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”
-A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh



What has happened?
What has happened?



Scrabble, bacon, eggs, a Sunday paper of preposterous red, white and blue.
Learning that L Beveridge has read out these words at a post-match function; quoting from John Harms’ “Play On”:

“Footy is about these things. It confirms your suspicions that there is something more. It alerts you to the existence of the soul. It invites you to be faithful and loyal. It demands you be faithful and loyal. And just when you are doubting it you see a game which makes you realise why you are so enthusiastic about it. 

You see courage, you see commitment, you see personal sacrifice, you see skill and you see beauty and you are uplifted. Footy is one of the few places in contemporary life where you experience the transcendent.

Footy is also about suffering and suffering can be uplifting. Suffering is the natural state. It is honest. And how we respond to that suffering is elemental. Suffering can bring us together and it is only when we understand the suffering of others can we understand the fullness of joy.

So when we watch the premiership flag unfurled, there are tears. In those tears, there is at once joy and suffering.”


What has happened?
What has happened?


“Your heart’s desire is to be told some mystery. The mystery is that there is no mystery.”
-Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West


There is no mystery.
There is instead T Boyd, L Dahlhaus, M Bontempelli, J Roughead, D Morris, T Liberatore. There is L Picken. There is S Biggs, T McLean, M Boyd, Z Cordy, C Smith, C Daniel. There is F Roberts, T Dickson, J Dunkley, J Stringer, J Hamling, There is E Wood. There is L Hunter, J Johannisen, J Macrae, everyone at the team; the club. There is L Beveridge, R Murphy. There is J Schultz. There is belief, there is footy.


And yet, and yet…


What has happened?
What has happened?


“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
-Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. lovely lovely lovely. am reading Tolkien with the elder, and eyeing McCarthy again for myself.

    oh, and then there was the football game, we were 20 or so “fans of others teams” cheering with the 4 or so actual Dog fans at the Warren View in Enmore, up against about 1000 Swans fans, who were typically quiet until Buddy got them close, then quiet again. see the picture of Antony Green, taken in the first quarter, for the general feel.

    makes a Tiger dream that next year will be the year. next year is ALWAYS the year!

  2. Peter Hille says

    Beautiful work David

  3. Thanks P Warrington, P Hille.
    Truth is stranger than fiction.

    Mighty collective.
    One for the dreamers.

  4. Love it ER.

  5. Love this Dave! I want to save those quotes!

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Top form ER. Great quotes capturing the overall goodwill that the Doggies triumph brought to the game. Even most Swans fans were relatively gracious. A story for the ages.

  7. Thanks JTH, Carly, Phil.
    A lot of love in the room.

  8. Love the quotes E Regs, Particularly Tolkien – had him labelled as a swords and elves kinda guy. Thst’s the trouble with relying on the Hollywood Cliff Notes versions!
    Are you that well read with a photographic memory and endless index cards? Or do you have a top secret Google app for lit crits?
    Well played.

  9. Hi PB – thanks.
    Stories of hope and possibility are fairly abundant, I guess.
    And of the ridiculous.

    My memory for detail is appalling – but the detail can always be found later.

  10. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, e.r.
    Well played.

  11. Excellent OBP except I am about to go to bed and I can’t get the bloody words of Bob the builder can we fix it yes we can etc out of my brain !

  12. Er- as usual you distill footy magnificently. In a novel that’s cover to cover with quotables, you’ve picked out a Gatsby belter. It works a treat in your piece.

  13. Trevor Blainey says

    Terrific work. Great references. The lunch, the game, the presentation and then these amongst many great words.

  14. Thanks very much all.
    It past couple of weeks feels like it has been a lovely time.

    Like the way things could be.
    In the absence of vitriol and teeth-gnashing and individuals-placing-themselves-before-the-group.
    In a world where effort is celebrated.
    Collective effort and having a go.
    Just great.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    About time Castle Greyskull got a mention in an Almanac article.

    Great piece ER.

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