My favourite drop kick. Part one

My favourite drop-kick. Part one.

ON MONDAY evening, 26 June 2006 I sat down to watch a profile of musician Shane Howard on the ABC program Australian Story.

The program focused almost entirely on Shane Howard’s once-troubled personal life rather than on his achievements as a singer, songwriter (remember Goanna and Solid Rock?) and activist.

I’d followed Howard’s career long enough and closely enough to know that he likes footy. Barracks for Richmond. Has played on the wing at the MCG a few times – as part of the Dreamtime gigs with people like Archie Roach, before games between Richmond and Essendon.

Not that any of this was mentioned on Australian Story. Far from it. The program was about the hard life and times of a man who’s finally found some serenity.

‘This is a beautiful time of life,’ he says at the end of the program, ‘a time of happiness, of peace, of, even, contentment.’

Then, just before the credits begin to roll, Shane Howard, a man in his mid-to-late 50s, is shown having a gentle kick-to-kick outside his south-west Victorian home with two of his younger children.

I leaned forward in my lounge-room chair and saw, there on the television screen, Shane Howard kicking a neat, short, straight drop-kick.

It wasn’t as exciting or as moving as hearing Solid Rock for the first time all those years ago, but I reckon my heart jumped a beat.

And I wondered: was it really a drop kick that I had seen, or a trick of the light, a trick of the camera, a trick of nostalgia? Was it a drop kick dream?

It is hard to do a short drop kick of only a few metres, just as it hard to do a short low-flying torpedo. It takes experience. And it probably requires some peace and contentment.

ON SATURDAY morning 22 May 2010 I sat down for breakfast with my bowl of cereal and the sports pages of The Age. Martin Flanagan was talking about having a kick with a mate in south-west Victoria. A mate who barracked for Richmond. A mate whose father got a training run with Richmond during the Depression. A mate whose son is always decked out in Tigers colours at Auskick.

Flanagan didn’t mention Solid Rock or even Shane Howard’s first name but I could read between the lines.

And then, in the seventh paragraph, he writes: ‘We exchanged a few drop punts and then my friend let rip with a drop kick. It was like seeing an FJ Holden. Like seeing a woman with a 1960s bee-hive hairdo.’

Reading Flanagan’s account of Shane Howard’s drop kick reminded me of the Australian Story program, of course. That drop kick at the end of the program was no trick, no dream. My heart had had good reason to skip a beat that night.

ON FRIDAY evening 27 August 2010 I sat down at the Oakleigh RSL to watch Shane Howard and band play a rare city gig. The support act was Dan Sultan, a man also known to love his footy.

It was a triumphant night for Shane Howard, a man who has come back from the brink a few times. The new songs from the Goanna Dreaming album stood up well, very well. Though Howard is not one to rest on the laurels of nostalgia, Solid Rock still packed a hell of a punch.

Now, as I play his new CD and browse his book of lyrics and remember that gig, I wonder if Shane Howard had a pre-gig kick-to-kick session with Dan Sultan on the Oakleigh footy ground behind the RSL. On the Warrigal Road wing maybe. A warm-up before the sound-check perhaps.

And if they did, I can imagine Shane Howard sending a lovely, long, straight drop kick right onto the chest of Dan Sultan, a gorgeous drop kick full of experience, borne on the air of peace and contentment.

Vin Maskell
8 September 2010

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. Andrew Fithall says

    Beautiful work Vin. I also remember that Age article in May and knowing exactly who he was talking about. What are Dan Sultan’s football allegiances. And do you know how he performed in the Community Cup? He captained the Rockdogs but other than reading that Stew Farrell kicked the winning goal for the Megahertz, I didn’t see much else about individual performances.

  2. Joanne Gibbons says

    Hello Vin,

    I don’t think I’ve seen you since Shane did a gig at the Central Club in the early ninetiesd and you were sitting with Peter Marshall having a drink. Great to know you are still out there writing. Delighted to see your article on Shane (music and footy). Hello to Louise.

    Joanne Gibbons(formerly of Goanna Music)
    Your old neighbour at Banole Ave (My the years have passed quickly)

  3. I take big pack marks.

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