Meeting Geoff Blethyn

Sometimes writing takes you to surprising places.

 

In 2014 I wrote a curious piece for my blog about how wearing a particular footy T-shirt helped me through the suburban trauma of doing the supermarket shopping. It was a lightweight story, for sure, but hopefully there were moments of – if not gravity – then at least some seriousness. Like any story, it was about joining the dots. Fairly disparate dots, on this occasion. I called the story Shelf Life.

 

The T-shirt depicted bespectacled footballer Geoff Blethyn, who played for Essendon, and then Claremont and Port Adelaide, from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.  I’ve always barracked for Essendon and I’ve always worn glasses. Geoff played full-forward and kicked goals, including 107 in 1972. In my childhood imagination – especially those backyard dreams – I played full-forward and kicked goals. While wearing my glasses.

 

Geoff Blethyn may have read the story back in 2014 – the T-shirt’s designer, Chris Rees, forwarded it to him.

 

About three weeks ago I received an email out of the blue. From Geoff Blethyn. Suggesting a rendezvous. He’d come across the story again and would like to meet.

 

So, on a rainy Melbourne Cup Day we met at Windy Hill. We chatted inside, just metres from the ground where Geoff played.

 

What did we talk about? Footy, not surprisingly. Some cricket. Work. I was mindful that I was there not as a journalist but as a guest, at the kind invitation of Geoff. I will say, though, that if I’d brought along my Lyrebird Sherrin, and if the weather had been kinder, and if there were still goalposts at Windy Hill, Geoff would have been happy to give me some goal-kicking tips. “It’s all in the fulcrum,” he said when discussing Travis Cloke’s technique.

 

Though Geoff has been aware of the Chris Rees T-shirt (part of Chris’ Footy Enigma series), our meeting was the first time he’d  seen his T-shirt in the flesh, so to speak.

 

Sometimes writing takes you to surprising places.

 

Shelf Life

 

 

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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.

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    I’d best keep looking in my inbox for an invitation from Sonny Morey or Grenville Dietrich then Vin.

  2. Colin Ritchie says:

    Geoff Blethyn provided a lot of delight to many Bomber supporters during his time at Windy Hill. His marking was a delight to behold at times, and he rarely missed set shots for goal but I don’t think we ever saw the best of him. My fondest memory is of him kicking a bag of goals at Windy Hill against Fitzroy I think it was, and he took 2 or 3 absolute screamers in the goal square which the Bombers won convincingly. Great story Vin.

  3. Geoff Blethyn !?! An amazing career. He made his debut in the 1968 VFL finals series. In the GF he kicked 4 of Essendon’s goals in a losing side.

    The next few seaon’s he drifted from the wing , on to the half forward line, then full forward. He was (equal) leading goal kicker in one of those seasons. The arrival of Des Tuddenham gave him the full forward spot on a permanent basis.

    From round 1 in 1972 he excelled. A bag in the opening win over Footscray, more big tallies following including in the MCG victory over Richmond in R3, followed by an innacurate 7-7 over Geelong the following week. His was a stellar season, as Essendon made the finals for the fir
    first time since 1968. One particularly meritorious loss was his bag in the loss to Footscray in R 12.

    Then he was gone, heading West to play footy. He returned for a season a few years later, but we never saw enough of him.

    You rarely see bespectacled footballers. Intriguingly Essendon had a pair of them in 1971, Geoff Blethyn and Rod McFarlane. The latter was also a full forward. Unsure if they ever played together in senior ranks: time to check AFL tables, and jog the old mind.

    Glen!

  4. Terry Riordan says:

    This could be a new blog … Buy the tee shirt and meet your hero !!!!

    Geoff looks in very good shape for a bloke who must be in his mid to late sixties… I Rember watching him at the old Waverley ground and he could play but l used to worry that some idiot would get him with a head high tackle which unfortunately we’re fairly common in those days. A good article enjoyed the memories

    I am thinking of ordering a Bernie Quinlan tee shirt !!!!

  5. Great stuff, Vin.
    Footy just has a way.

  6. Hmmmm. I should have checked the AFL tables prior to posting. I would have not made the errors I originally made.

    Geoff made his debut early in 1968: not in the finals, Though the 1968 GF was only his third match.

    Re him and Rod McFarlane playing together, this happened twice. In the first two rounds of 1971. Neither player contributed many goals; Essendon lost both games.

    I was fairly sure he kicked 11 out of 14 in the R12 loss to Footscray in 1972. Checking the AFL tables confirmed that.

    Glen!

  7. Great post Vin. They say never meet your heroes, but sounds like he is the exception and a top bloke.

    By the way, Blethyn was a little before my time – just out of curiosity, how is his surname pronounced? Is it phonetic? Or is the ‘e’ and ‘a’ sound? I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say his name before.

  8. Good stuff Vinm always a highlight to meet your hero

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