Almanac Football- Journey to the big dance

My journey into loving Aussie Rules is quite a bit different to most.


My parents moved from Wanneroo W.A to a tiny island in the pacific, Nauru.


I was 4 years old just starting to get visions into things.  My Dad loved the WAFL and I have one memory only of when he took me to a Claremont game.  I recall a few scenes only and have no idea which game it was.   Most vividly I recall a large crowd and hanging onto Dad and people yelling.


My first memory of Aussie rules on Nauru is going to what must have been the grand final.   At half time a giant box burst open and free footballs flew out onto the oval and the kids streamed out to grab them up.  I was too shy to join in.


The players were huge guys and dust was flying everywhere on the surface.      That’s about my only recollection, the next one was being dropped off to school on Monday and still observing crowds of people drunk and revelling in whoeover won on the oval.   As was island style you just drove past and waved.  This was about 1980.  Nauruans at this time were amongst the richest in the world per capital due to Phosphate royalties.


In 1984 we moved from the Pacific ocean over to another phosphate rich island.  The external territory of Australia, Christmas Island.     There again my Aussie rule knowledge were the parties and the half time entertainment..


Nobody played Aussie Rules at schools etc on Christmas Island.    The population was small and education followed the Canberra based system.    People had fun playing cricket and squash etc.    We got some TV.   One channel for a few hours a day.


Then I met the family from Sunderland in Victoria.   Most afternoons after school we kicked the footy around and pretending to being players like Madden and Salmon.   I was always Ross Glendinning as we had heard the Eagles were entering the then VFL.     We always mananged to watch an hour of so of highlights on some channel once a week.


They had a Rober Flower Skills book.   Did I cherish that..    At the end of 1987 the phosphate mine closed for the most part and most Ex-pats upped stumps and headed back to their homes in Australia.


I entered high school in 1988 at Wanneroo High School, W.A.  Lets just say it has a family vibe but is quite the rough suburb.      Footy was massivlely popular but not played so much at this school.     A lot of people played for the Wanneroo Roo’s     The same shirt as the mighty Big V.     Mostly  we would just turn up at the showgrounds and yell at the other team, always in humor but it was quite intimidating for the visiting team.  I have had this told to me years later by a few people LOL


I thought that’s how footy was.   We all followed the Eagles madly.   They were Gods.      In 1992 post siren we all drove around in car parks yelling our heads off in open utes.    And this was 30km north of Perth.     Some of the older people went over via trains, planes and automobiles.


1996 I was working in the N.T and bought one of the those package deals to the GF.   My friend from Perth took the the 2nd ticket.       We arrived in the early evening of the Friday and headed to our 2 star hotel.   I saw one bloke drunk falling all over the floor.    My mate saw someone else vomiting his head off in the toilet.       I have no idea what this hotel was.   We both were a bit shocked and agreed to have one beer and meet in the morning.     The game and everything that goes with it was amazing and now I had been to a Grand Final      The flight from Darwin was worth it.  I had seen the big event.     I lost $50 on the Norm Smith Medal      My seat was about 3 rows from back..


2005 I was working on a project in the Laos Peoples Democratic Republic.   I had just managed to hook wifi up in the capital Vietiene and the AFL had released an APP for viewing overseas.   I watched as much as I could but it was a terrible app which I am pleaseed to say has improved every year.      As soon as we made the GF I booked my Laos to Melbourned weekender.    Amazing game and worthy winners.    Something was burning inside that 2006 we would take it.   I booked my package immediately.   2006 unreal.     The thousands of West Australians that travelled over was mind blowing.     Now I had seen my team win a flag.   The Flight from Lao again was of no matter.


2018 I was working on a project in Vietnam on one of the hottest days of the year.   It was prelim on Optus and I could only check on scores a couple of times.      That won I did everything I could to book a 1 night stay in Melbourne.   Took some time to find a ticket but managed to secure a category 2.     The game itself was magic, ebbs and flows.   Brilliance, errors and a favourable result.   I had bought an AM radio on the way to the ground and was most impressed with that.


The beer with my school mate from Wanneroo who has been based in Melbourne for about 14 years was one of the best I have had.    We are different in W.A      I have always found that a wonderful thing.


So now I am back in Vietnam, watching replay after replay, lapping everything up.     Having just arrived down on Earth the trade talk is a nice distraction.


In all it’s amazing and great how we all share the passion and love of footy:-)




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About Bruce Walker

Footy lover from W.A. Enjoy flags, beers and fuel vouchers.


  1. Hey Bruce great article
    I’m a Freo man of roughly the same vintage, I played footy against waneroo for canning that gave me a giggle
    Hey have a listen to my song “ Holding The Ball “on Spotify or iTunes etc to give yourself a bit of Aussie pub rock while your away
    The Eagles featured it in one of thier fan podcasts recently
    Adam Western

  2. Love this summary of your footy journey, shock I’m sure has a way to go.

    Interesting reflections upon the crowds and the noise and the descriptions of the towns you lived in.


  3. Colin Eddington says

    Hi Bruce, Will see if the WCE can do it again, maybe next year or in a few more years.. Hard to do back to back these’s days. Will see where we are next AFL grand final.. cheers

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