How to Watch Footy (part 18): Umbrella organisation

By Vin Maskell


Port Melbourne v Williamstown, Round 14, North Port Oval, Saturday 20 July.

Sheets of rain are falling down/Falling on my head/Sheets of rain upon the ground…(The Blackeyed Susans, 1993)

Dress code:  beanie, jumpers, extra socks, blue and gold scarf, raincoat – as many layers as possible

Viewing spot: outer wing with a few other fools, opposite a few hundred sensible souls in the Norman Goss Stand

Playing conditions: Wet, wet , wet. (Sorry, none of their songs come to mind.) The oval looks like a rice paddy. Sheets of rain upon the ground.

First quarter: I’m sheltering under the large blue and gold umbrella of Len, who vividly remembers Port-Willi stoushes from the 1950s onwards. “Mopsy Fraser and Monster Callahan, gee….” Len’s got an eagle eye, sees things I’ll never see, especially unpaid frees. Both teams manage two goals somehow. Willi two points up: 2.3 to 2.1

Second quarter: Len still takes his 98 year old Mum to home games in Williamstown, on the train. I ask after her while Port start kicking goals as if the sun was shining and the ground was dry. As Len tells me about his dear mother, who still lives on her own, he intersperses the many details with, shall we say, admonishments of the umpires. (“You bastard!”)  I’m a bit jack of people abusing umpires but I’m also a bit gutless sometimes, so I don’t challenge Len’s opinions of officialdom. Besides, he’s got a big umbrella and those Blackeyed Susans sheets of rain are still falling down.

Half-time: Port are three goals up: 5.3 to 2.4.  “May as well be ten,” I say to Len as I drift off to the canteen, raincoat zipped up tight, hoodie over the beanie, hands in pockets.

Second half: I watch on my own, standing in mud near the fancy new-look scoreboard, which flashes “GOAL!” graphics rather too many times for my liking. It’s as if Port have built a moat across half-back. Port are giving Willi a bath, just as they did in Round 8 at Willi, in last year’s Prelim Final at North Port, in the 2011 Grand Final at Emptyhead Stadium.  This time they win by eleven and a half goals. In the wet. In the slush. In the rice paddy. May as well be twenty goals:  13.10 (88)  to 2.7 (19). (We did beat them by a point or two in the mud at Willi last year but that’s small, if any, consolation.)

Votes: 3 to Len’s 98 year old mum, 2 to Len’s umbrella, 1 to Len’s eagle eyes. 3 to The Blackeyed Susans for Sheets of Rain, and Dirty Water and Ocean of You and This One Eats Souls and many more.

About Vin Maskell

Founder and editor of Stereo Stories, a partner site of The Footy Almanac. Likes a gentle kick of the footy on a Sunday morning, when his back's not playing up. Been known to take a more than keen interest in scoreboards - the older the better.


  1. Vin,
    I stood on the hill at Willy many times through all sorts of weather…unfortunately I don’t get the chance to see them much any more. I salute you.
    Re the Blackeyed Susans: Rob Snarski is probably this country’s most under-rated singer. Ever.

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