Harms election watch – Round 6: Rooty Hill RSL

by John Harms

Those of us who spent too much time in the Trans-Australian Banks (pre-Betfair, of course) in the 1990s will recall waiting nervously through Rooty Hill RSL ads on SKY until the result of the photo finish came through.  I think it was their only advertiser.

So, as we were hanging out to see whether we’d hung on for third to jag the trifecta in the distance maiden at Port Lincoln, we’d learn that Kamahl was returning to the Rooty Hill RSL, and that Don McLean and one of those visiting magicians or Irish tap-dancers would be there as well.

I love the Rooty Hill RSL club. I’ve never been there, but for me it will always be a pillar in the framework of Australian cultural life.

Indeed, my idea of Heaven is Lucky Grills doing mother-in-law shtick and golf jokes at the Rooty Hill RSL.

My idea of Hell is watching Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott cementing their places in Manning Clark’s Kingdom of Nothingness at the Rooty Hill RSL. Please.

I know. I know. I know. This campaign is not serving me well. I am turning grumpy.

I watch Wayne Swan and I’m grumpy. I watch Joe Hockey and I’m grumpy.

I see Julia Gillard offer teachers bonuses for doing their job diligently. Tony Abbott sees the bonus and raises Julia a few extra dollars.

Then I look at the betting. I’m a little surprised that the ALP have firmed to $1.44 again. On the back of what, I’m not sure, although people are saying nice things about Julia’s QandA performance from Monday night.

I would have thought the betting was still ALP $1.66, Coalition $2.50, but then again, I have been in Canberra and Adelaide the past few days where The Australian is the newspaper. And if you read The Australian you’d think the Coalition were about to enjoy a landslide victory.

Perhaps my Adelaide cabbie was on the money, when explaining how he was seeing the election.

When I got in his cab the first thing he did was get out a pocket calendar and point out to me that ANZAC day and Easter Monday fell on the same day next year, and that the Tuesday was a holiday. He advised that I take off the three further days that week to give myself a 10-day holiday. He was providing this service to every passenger so he advised I get in quickly before word got out.

He was a Rudd fan. But he thought Rudd was making no sense in the lead-up to the coup. He thought that the coup had to happen, but that now Rudd was “back to normal and going to have a big impact on the campaign.”

That, from a South Australian.

He might be right.

That might explain the rally in the ALP price. I think it’s just those who laid them at $1.25 panicking and taking the $1.45. If they hold their nerve they’ll get a better price.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Andrew Fithall says


    I have always admired bi-partisan grumpiness. Keep that up and you could get a job on the ABC.

    I tried to follow Twitter on Q and A (actually – I think I tried to follow Q and A on Twitter) last night. On previous shows it was almost achievable. The numbers of tweets coming through now make it meaningless. There were thousands within the first five minutes.

    Other than that. twitter has been a bit of fun this election campaign. I won’t name the people I choose to follow – like to keep it bi-partisan – but Annabel Crabb has easily been my favourite and most worthwhile.


  2. If I see the palms of her hands one more time…………

    I actually want to kill those who are involved in the focus groups that drive this election and the candidates (unless of course killing is illegal in which case I don’t).

  3. JH,
    I would seem the toil of living in the Federal Capital during election mode has began to wear you down. As a resident of 32 years may I offer some advice. Go for a hit of golf and ignore the news etc for the next week and tune into 88.7 FM for political free broadcasting. Don’t under any circumstances be tempted to go to the Tally Room on Saturday night. Its not safe

  4. Dips, from my limited understanding of criminal law I can tell you that it is illegal to kill someone.

    But I believe it is perfectly within the law to want to kill someone. And perfectly understandable in the scenario you describe.

  5. Andrew Fithall says

    Tony Robb,

    Did you ask the question some time ago about a young footballer in Canberra named McMahon whose mother was a Delahunty, and I piped in that the father was Damian and the mother Helen? Have you been able to confirm that? If so, I was talking to Helen’s sister Marg at a junior football event on Sunday night in Williamstown and related the story to her. She did confirm that all football prowess in the wider family does come from the Delahunty side.


  6. Andrew. Twas not I

  7. Twas Phantom.

    Two McMahons both played for the ACT a couple of weeks ago.

    Della told me when I acknowledged the Cats loss to the Pies.

    We Phantoms give a bit but we always fess up and take it when it is our turn.

  8. Unlawful is contry to the law.

    Illegal is a sick bird.

  9. Andrew Fithall says


    It is appropriate that this conversation is part of a commentary on politics since Helen and Marg are botn sisters of Mary (Labor) and Hugh (Nationals) Delahunty. Would have been interesting dinner table conversations. The girls boarded at Loreto in Ballarat. I think the boys went to Monivae. I really should know what their relationship was to Michael, who playeed for Collingwood but was too busy on Sunday night trying to entice Marg into bringing her boys across to Williamstown Juniors. To finalise the politics, Marg also chatted to another friend of mine, the former Mayor of Williamstown Peter Hemphill, with whom she went to school at Murtoa High in early secondary.

  10. Andrew, thanks.

    I was aware of the family bit. It would have been interesting.

    I have had close contact with Helen over the past decade while I was on the national executive of the Greening Australia board.

    Helen is real ‘hoot’: except she barracks for you know who. Apparently one of her sons is a very smart lad and barracks for the Cats.

    The devoted Helen has taken him to a few of the recent Cats / Pies games and paid the consequences, but she is a happy camper these days.

  11. Phantom et al.
    Given your wisdom in all things biological and being from Tassie were they have all things by way of seafood I seek an answer to what could be the greatest discovery since the tombs of the Egypt.
    During my recent travels across the ditch I sniffed out some oysters from a local farmer. As the weather had been unseasonally wet(cough)they had not been able to harvest because of water quality. He then offered me “frozen” oysters. Taken aback by such a concept I was assured that they tasted no different when thawed. Feeling that there may have been a bit of friendly Kiwi piss taking I was soon holding a bag of monstrous pacifc oyters that were indeed frozen. The thought of opening these mosters was daunting. However, I was assured that if I left them out for a couple of hours they would OPEN THEMSELVES or should I need them earlier, just chuck them in some salted water and they will open in 30 minutes. I was expecting a group of bros to come from behind the shed rolling with laughter as I was sure that the piss taking had gone to another level.

    BUT true to his word, the shells did open as described revealing the best oyters Id ever seen. WHY IS THIS SO? This could change the world as we know it or at least save my hand from severe stab wounds while increasing my oyster intake team fold. What next, a self peeling prawn or self filleting fish?

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