Grand Final – West Coast v Hawthorn: A Victorian Abroad

Tony Moon has not gone native. Nor has he chosen to adopt the manners and customs of the place Up North here where for more than thirty years he has been marooned. Unlike so many other transplanted types he has never compromised to the climate or environment. He remains every bit a Victorian. Right down to maintaining member’s rights at the MCG.

He reminds me of “An Englishman abroad”, Coral Browne’s retelling of her meeting Guy Burgess in Moscow when she played Gertrude in Hamlet for the precursor of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1950s. He wanted her to buy him English clothing on her return to London. Unlike Burgess, he has never betrayed his home, but very much like Burgess he loves the trappings of his home. He is a Victorian abroad.

But like so many immigrants he yearns for a place which is no more. He sees no good reason why there should be an AFL, “They didn’t amalgamate the WAFL and the SAFL into it … they still have their competitions. These newbies came into the VFL …it should remain the VFL (getting louder)”. He disdains the new clubs in Perth, Western Sydney, the Gold Coast and Adelaide. He refers to the Brisbane Lions as “The Spice Girls” and cannot mention the Swans by name. He regards any city without trams as provincial. He refuses to recognise any difference between Rugby Union and Rugby League and will wax on about “the vulgarity of bum sniffers” if permitted to. Raised in Preston, he is a Collingwood man, proud and patient. Yet for all that, we northerners love him. He is a splendid host and wonderful company, while his conversations tend to the monologue but they are always entertaining. Lunches are long and fulfilling.

His home is magnificent, poised on the foothills of Castle Hill which fills the view to the right with sweeping views of Townsville, Cape Cleveland and all of Cleveland Bay to Magnetic Island on the left. The home is on three levels but most importantly he has a home theatre, with a projection system which allows a wall to be used as a screen. It is glorious.

He holds court on special occasions such as the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup in this place. One of his more charming Victorianisms is his ready capacity to ennoble any event which happens more than once as a tradition. The Grand Final at his place is therefore a tradition. Tradition (as he claims) demands that “Four’n’Twenty” pies be obtained and footy franks boiled.

The tradition was broken in 2010 when he travelled to Melbourne for the rapture. In the intervening four years things haven’t worked out, with him being away for various reasons. But perhaps as proof of tradition while others have attempted to replace his Grand Final … no one succeeded. For so many of us he is the Grand Final. So imagine my delight when I was invited to “come up for my usual do”, the week before.

This year, although he displayed a complete disinterest in the outcome of the Grand Final. West Coast are newbies but Hawthorn had betrayed Melbourne with its choice to be “parboiled Tasmanics”. “You’re either one thing or the other, you can’t be both”. Nonetheless it was a Grand Final and indifference is trumped by tradition. So we happy few gathered … the best proof of what the future may hold lies in past performance, thus … the chance to relive those wonderful afternoons over sunny valley of the past was too hard to resist.

Something, like twenty of us gathered and waited for the pre-game entertainment. There was a pie warmer full of pies “Four’n’Twenty on the left, gou-met rubbish on the right”, a croc-pot full of footy franks, unbuttered buns “Steady on old man … you don’t expect me to do everything” and eskies jam-packed with libations which he regarded as “barely adequate”.

Greg who some of you know as “Polythene Pam” had brought his wife’s Labrador ‘Molly’ to eat the dropped food. There were old hands and new comers. Leon rolled in with his infectious smile. Alex turned up wearing a North Queensland Cowboys jumper (always provocative). Denis was the only one prepared to call it for the Hawks and did so from well before the start. There were teachers, lawyers, doctors and coves. Davo, newly arrived from Melbourne, turned up with homemade sausage rolls.

We were ready to go…. but then to rub our provincial noses in it…he decided to play an old theatre version of “God Save the Queen”, a movie-tone news clip followed by the “We’re happy little vegemites” song … because that was “on at the pictures where I grew up”. His reasoning is that “the ALF pre-game entertainment is always shit”, can’t fault him on that.

Then someone said “When’s this fuckin’ thing supposed to start?” the consensus was “three minutes ago”. Remotes were grabbed and the wall was covered with a message that the Foxtel half-time commentary would be on in one hour and twenty minutes.

Yep …Foxtel was not playing the Grand Final… He moved with a speed unexpected and started tearing wires from the back of various ‘boxes’… nup … no hope. No free to air in the theatre. The set top was dead. I looked at Polythene Pam and said “This has to go into the Almanac”. Seventeen sets of legs immediately moved in unison up the stairs to the master bedroom where a free to air television with a twelve inch screen perched on the wall.

Unflappable, he grabbed his wallet and leapt into the Batmobile, ‘Joyce Mayne’ maybe a cut price electrical store but it is the closest. He returned puffing with a florid face halfway through the second quarter. It wasn’t a complete disaster. Molly enjoyed the pies half eaten strewn on the floor by the seventeen. I turned Foxtel onto the replay of the Rugby World Cup pool game between the All Blacks and Georgia. The Grand Final was all but over by the time he got back. Simon did manage to get his line in “what about the knock on?” Polythene rolled his eyes muttering “every year”.

There was the usual ejaculations of “Sir”, “in the back” and “free kick” as if the umpires can hear … but for me the comment which summed it all up was when clutching a greasy glass of red wine he said more in sorrow “We can’t even call them white maggots anymore”… pointing at the technicolour goal umpire wearing a camera on his hat.

 

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About Anthony W Collins

A northerner with a mild distrust of anyone from south of St Lawrence.

Comments

  1. Viscount,

    I have been in the company of Tony Moon, in his abode. He is a generous host.

    So, I am familiar with his understanding of the world, which you describe beautifully and accurately.

    I think it is very good of the AFL to stage a Grand Final in response to, and with respect for, Moon’s traditions.

    JTH

  2. outraged Townsville says:

    At the risk of destroying a good story, Moon left for the store half way through the first quarter made the purchase raced back and had the new device hooked up and running half way through the second quarter. Those who went to the bedroom did not come out.

  3. There is no-one outraged in Townsville today.

    What I don’t understand is how this cove Moon can have Foxtel but no Channel 7. Please don’t tell me the GF was on 7Mate or whatever it is.

  4. A beautifully written piece. Mostly accurate too. But, as all lawyers know, “most” just means “greater than 50%”.

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Been waiting 8 years for you to write a piece Viscount. Worth the wait. Very funny. Growing up in Preston following Collingwood does strange things to you. Is Tony any relation to Keith?

  6. E.regnans says:

    Mulcaster – superb.
    Love the accounts of dialogue.
    “barely adequate”
    Brilliant.

  7. Outraged Townsville says:

    Harmes I suppose that living in the heady heights of Northcote (Mitchell Street up the hill no doubt) you can be forgiven for not understanding the privations of provincial living. Whilst my Brisbane residence has Foxtel and seems to have the free to air stations including 7 the same does not apply to my Townsville connection which at least in the past was called Austar.

  8. Polythene Pam says:

    Oh dear – outed.
    The point Mulcaster was too kind to make is that Moon has form for this – he did precisely the same thing on Melbourne Cup day a few years back, and we missed the start and then half of the race.
    Molly says hello and is looking forward to next year.

  9. Outraged Townsville,

    You seem to have a lot of trouble with the spelling of surnames. I recall a day when your winning ticket for the first goal-kicker of a Carringbush fixture was not paid out (the only non-lawyer in the party challenging the result) because you had written the big number 32 from Collingwood’s name as Travis Cloak.

    I should point out that we live with the real people down on the flood plain by the Albion Charles Hotel not far from where the effluent of the People’s Republic flows into Merri Creek.

    Mitchell Street Schmitchell Street is for the bourgeois.

  10. Outraged Townsville says:

    I added the “e”as a mark of respect. Otherwise it is open to confusion.

  11. Outraged Townsville says:

    Another point Harms {please note spelling) I didn’t have the same problem with Doors the year following.

  12. Tony Moon says:

    You’re a bunch of wankers and you can eff off. I’m sharing my footy franks with my new friends at next grand final at the Grosvenor. So there! Carn the Pies!

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