Knights vs Van Der Haar

These are the things I’d pay good money to see.

Goodes on Pavlich. Judd and Barlow, toe-to-toe, kick-for-kick. Pendlebury and Hayes. Both of them tackle as much as they win the ball for themselves.

Goddamn, I loved it when Pike played on Hird. Total opposites, in every way. Both proud men. How clever was the move Rhyse-Jones on Dermie? I’d want to be on the ground playing when Jackovich took on Carey, just to feel the crunch of it. As a kid, I remember walking to Arden Street getting all excited about coughing up my paper-round money to see Jess on Glendinning.

Flower on Grieg. Man!

Then, there’s the impossible.

Bourke, Barrot and Clay versus Matera, Mainwaring and Kemp. Hawthorn’s on-ballers of the eighties versus Brisbane’s Awesome Foursome.

Neil Balm versus Mal Brown. Same team, so what? Put ’em in a ring, give them a football instead of a ref and let ’em at it. Robert Muir versus that Underbelly Mob. Kernahan and Hart in a shootout. McGhee would whip Beams’ arse.

A backline of Solomon, Hinkley, Ashcroft, McKenna. (Yes, the Suns coaching team!). Throw in Pert and Roos for giggles.

A forward lone of Coleman, as if that’s enough.

Throw in Knights, Robinson, Ablett Sr., Pratt, Natanui, and put Richo on the bench. Tell them to fly for everything, even throw-ins.

Hardy on Wilson. They could stay down the one end, take turns at forward pocket/back pocket.

Get Libba to Afganistan and whisper in his ear “Charge…”.

Seriously, Greg Williams against Gary Jr.. Hell, I’ll say it. Put Gaz on Judd. I know, I know, a lot of it has to do with the team around you, the blockers, the other ball getters, but let’s solve this argument!

Anyone else remember Knights versus Van Der Haar? That was all ego. Mark after mark, not a punch to be seen. They flew for anything. I was a kid and had never seen something so amazing! The freedom of it, the fun, still gives me a happy chill! It was the stuff of legends.

Imagine if Lake and Jetta did that!

Anyone else remember Scott on Hamill up in Brisbane?

I still remember when Sheedy put Bewick on Greg Williams. Everybody and his dog gave him shit for that. But Bewick, with his pace, carried the ball, and only got one possession less. Good on you, Sheeds. Work or not, you took a punt.

A barfly’s pub in town sponsors our footy club and another mob from another division. A tough. proud, sometimes nasty club. A great club. They play hard, and drink hard. Both teams were there on a Saturday, rotten, living life in that one night a week when nothing matters and everything verges on crazy. When the AFL becomes a small thing, drowned out by our noise, running around the monitors on the edges of the ceiling. A bit of colour and movement backing up our chaos and the juke box.

“Swan’s playing on Goddard,” somebody said, and we all stopped and, in wobbly silence, watched for ten or fifteen minutes.

I hope, for football, for the child in us, for Knights and Van Der Haar, the AFL coaches grow some, and we see much more of it.



  1. Phantom on Zurbo, at the iconic Karoola footy ground (Bangor wing)

  2. Rick Kane says

    Knights versus Van Der Haar, that’s a blast from the past. When Almanacers get the memory juices flowing I stand back in awe. But from the dim recess of the imagined world humming along in the back of my mind I can picture this duo (on The Winners) and being excited, no exhilarated by their skill and pose. Knights is still a giant to me. That’s how he was as a child/teenager, that’s how he’ll always be.

    Scarlett on Dunstall, that I’d like to see.

  3. Damo Balassone says

    Does anyone remember when Ablett picked up Dunstall. Kardinia Park 1992. Only the great Blighty could make that match-up happen. Mind you, JD was on fire and booted (I think) 8 in a half, so Blighty just thought “what the heck” let’s move God on to him and see what happens.

  4. Matt Zurbo says

    Phantom, you are a legend! Would be great!! Three games to go, come on down.

    Rick, “That’s how he was as a child/teenager, that’s how he’ll always be.” Perfect.

    Damo, remember it, but not the result. How did God go on a Piggy?

  5. Damo Balassone says

    Good question Matt, I might have to leave that for Hawthorn and Geelong supporters to answer. All I remember is Ablett fighting like the devil to try and keep up with Dunstall on the lead. His Hulk Hogan locks were in a mess.

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Nice selections Matt,

    as a kid I wore Billy Picken’s number 25 on my back. Watching him take on and often beat Mark MacLure in many games was a highlight.

    Ricky Barham vs Mick Turner was always a good tussle and although he wasn’t fashionable, Peter McCormack always seemed to do well on Michael Roach.

    Dipper v Hawkins and Lockett v Rick Kennedy were also fantastic contests in the 80s.

    Mind you, I doubt Robert Muir would last 5 minutes in Afghanistan. They play for keeps in those mountains.

  7. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Or Libba, for that matter…

  8. Dave Nadel says

    Farmer vs Nicholls in the days when body positioning was more important than height for ruckmen.

    Sheedy vs Matthews – not as coaches but as the craftiest back pocket on the toughest rover.

    Phil Carman destroying every centre halfback in the VFL in 1976 – before the word came from Adelaide that Fabulous Phil had a short fuse and could be sucked in.

  9. Matt Zurbo says

    Phil, yu have a great memory of some ripper contests! Dipper, Hawkins… Oath! And, yeah, hate to give a Pie a rap, haha, but McCormack did always seem to do great on Roach. I thought hr was tops. A real servant of his club.

    Dave, how mighty would it have been to be n the ground when those two giants, in size and of the game, were going head-to-head! Sheeds v Matthews is another corker – what do you reckon they said to each other?

    Anyone remember Shaw n Frawley? Yap. yap, yap!

    If I had a time machine: Otty on Dyer.

  10. Matt Zurbo says

    Phil, I once interviewed David Cloak. He told me some great things about Billy Picken. As an opponent you always knew you were a chance in the third quarter because Billy would start to drift off towards the scoreboard to check the race results.

    Also, as is known, he would talk to himself. “Billy’s coming through! Watch out, Billy’s coming through” and “Watch Billy take this screamer! Watch Billy take this screamer! OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH, nice one, Billy!” What a legend!

  11. Every contest, HERE”S BILLY, tried it mysely for a while but you only look a goose when you miss

  12. Matt Zurbo says

    Muzz! You ripper! Would love to play along side a bloke who did that. Would stand off anyone who gave you shit for it, for sure! You’re right, would want to be playing well, though.

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