On spotting Paul Chapman in the sash

It’s a funny thing: this NAB Challenge. And, as we all know, it’s an even funnier thing: life.

I find it a source of great amusement that the AFL would look to cricket for some marketing ideas and complete a straight-copy of the Big Bash Frivolity.

Eighteen games in eighteen days may have worked through the lazy days of summer when we were all imbibing soda and pretzels and beer. It’s not working the same way now the reality of the daily grind has hit in and people are waiting for four changes of the lights to turn right into Magic Faraway Boulevard. (Yet we should be thankful: God gave us heavy traffic so that The Ox and Mark Allen would sound sharp).

The NAB Challenge scheduling has some positives:  the opportunity to see the grounds of Australia. (Love Wang, and Townsville, which is what the Gabba would look like if not encircled by concrete modernity, and looking forward to Traeger Park in the centre on Friday evening); and the fact that you can IQ the footy and watch Cartlon v Adelaide instead of Q and A.

But that’s it: not everyone knows what IQ is. Because IQ means Foxtel. And that is why footy is not in the conversation at the moment. It is not on free-to-air TV. It may be on phones and tablets and rosettas and tapestries, but it just ain’t where most people are, and I can’t see why Channel 7 would interrupt their stellar stable of paint-drying, cake-baking, dancing, singing crap to cover footy matches played by teams which include the boot-studder’s nephew and the bloke who won the raffle in the social club the Friday before.

That’s the other problem. Who does the Match Committee select? And will there be any hint of a red-hot go? What is the purpose of it all?

Yet I have still tuned in, because, knowing my weakness, the AFL, having conditioned me in such a way in recent years that when I open the front door I am drawn, like Bill Clinton to a cigar, towards the loungeroom to put the footy on, feed my chronic addiction.

So last night, after the kids went to bed, and I was chastised for even contemplating a small glass of red, on went the tele. Port Adelaide. No doubt you have worked out that I have always loved Ken Hinkley and I have been drawn to contemporary Port. Oh, and they’re playing Essendon. Didn’t think anything of it as I was half-planning the rest of the week and other banalities (like wondering where the vacuum cleaner was).

Then it happened.

That beautiful little bald man rolled onto the screen, beating a trio of mortals, and sending a handball into the path of a teammate.

“Chappy!” I yelled.

I had completely forgotten. But what a drug. Like a shot of adrenalin, seeing Chappy brought me to life. I even called for The Handicapper.

I wasn’t happy to see Chappy in the red sash. And I didn’t deal with it well.

Chappy will be an asset at the Bombers and all credit to M. Thompson. Dare I say, Chappy has been an under-rated footballer because he has not been a key-position player, nor a classic mid-fielder, nor anything in particular. He is a utility, albeit a goal-kicking utility. He brings class, skill, strength, determination, smarts, a sense of what is required in the moment, and he understands that footy games are to be won. All process rhetoric was consigned early to the bottom of Locker 35 to fester with smelly socks, half-sucked barley sugars and his trusty Acme Atlas Chest Expander.

Chappy is a great player.

So while I am disappointed he’s not in the hoops, I will no doubt keep an eye on him for the season.

Well played old son. And all the very best.

Life goes on, in that funny-peculiar way, which makes melancholy trumps.




About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Grant Fraser says

    Please, please, please let him leave The Pact behind at Kardinia Park. To see him win against us AGAIN, and in the livery of The Hated Ones, would be too much with which to cope.

  2. I didn’t know what you were going to pen after Bill Clinton.

    Superb big Chappy paragraph towards the end.

    I hope Chappy plays well.

    Of course he’s going to play well. He’s a gem of a footballer.

  3. Was there an Essendon game last night?

    “God gave us heavy traffic so that The Ox and Mark Allen would sound sharp”. Outstanding. Simply outstanding.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Top article JTH haven’t seen a second of the Mickey mouse comp yet for me it should be 1 trial game allowed against another club and then a huge build up re round 1 .
    Chapman is the 1 exit from kardinia park that does not make sense to me he plays in the prelim and the cats at worst are in the gf . A fantastic big occasion player to me that is where he is under rated there are no where near enough of them, guys who love and thrive on the big stage

  5. I didn’t see the footy because I don’t have Foxtel. And I won’t have Foxtel as long as my bum points south. Paying to watch TV is like paying $5 to drink water; or paying 10 times as much as we used to for electricity for no apparent reason.

    That aside, did Chappy’s bum look big in those shorts? He is a gun player. Pity half his teammates will (or should be) rubbed out for cheating later in the season. Never mind. Life goes on.

  6. Geez Dips, you haven’t really mellowed in your 50s.

    I avoided watching Daisy run around in a Carlton jumper on Monday night (even though I have Foxtel*)

    * And couldn’t live without it

  7. Not happy seeing Chappy playing for the crappy ‘Whatever it Takes’ mob. Still wish him all the best. He was, and is, a champion.

    Cheers, Burkie

  8. Simply: Chappy should be at Geelong.

    Demonstrates the shifting meanings in footy.

    Fans: Chappy to stay. (We live in the now)

    Those involved in the enterprise that is GFC: Chappy to go. (They live two years down the track when their contracts come up for renewal – QED)

    There may be more to the story, but we don’t know, and we won’t ever know.

  9. I normally wouldn’t think twice about an opposition playing switching clubs, but this is the exception – it is just not right seeing Chappy in the Essendon jumper. For some reason, it hurts me too – perhaps it’s a combination of 1) my disdain for the red and black and 2) my appreciation for a man who was the heart & soul of the Cats. It should never have happened. It didn’t need to happen. It is wrong.

  10. I’m with you, MOC, I have something of a Foxtel dependency (True Detective, people. True Detective).

    Anyhow, Daisy looked great.

    On Chappy, he’ll podium in their B&F by way of being one of the few without an asterisk next to his name.

    JTH, I begrudgingly admire Geelong for being able to make those decisions. Easy to get complacent and bask in past glories, rather than chase the next.

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Foxtel dependency is a very real condition. Though I have struggled to get enthused by these pre season games.
    What a shame Chapman has been forced to end his career at Essendon. I’m happy no one picked up Didak for that exact reason.

  12. Terry Barnstable says

    Ask Josh about foxtel footy telecasts, he won $1000:00 the other night with his 18 words or less answer to the Question.

  13. Josh’s shout.

    What were the words Terry/Josh?

  14. G’day JTH.
    Top images. And food for thought.
    I’m with Dips on the water/ foxtel ruse.
    Will think more about it when the soda & pretzels & beer run out. Isn’t it cricket season?

  15. My “No Foxtel” rule is shaking, “stay firm” I say, “stay firm”.
    And the result? Pfft pre-season/trial game and all that. Not worth mentioning.
    ………..Port won.

  16. Andrew Fithall says

    I sold Newscorp shares some time ago because I couldn’t handle the internal angst of holding shares in a company I detest. Then I look at some other shares in my SMSF portfolio and realise I am simply a hypocrite. I do have Foxtel. Somehow I have reconciled that if I purchase via Telstra it is not as evil. Kidding myself. Didn’t watch all the Carlton game the other night but saw lowlights and definitely didn’t like seeing Daisy in navy blue. I wish him as fine a career at Carlton as enjoyed by Mick McGuane. But it is different from the Chappy situation: Daisy opted to leave. Chappy found another home when his former club decided he had no future with them.

    On a subject of the pre-season comp. I personally know three Melbourne supporters travelling to the Alice from Melbourne just for the game this weekend. Don’t know what to make of that.

  17. Terry Barnstable says

    Josh said the question was “will Brendan McCartney make a better coach than Alan Richardson at St Kilda and why? A question like that is asked during each game on Foxtel and has to be answered in 18 words or less. Josh is in Melb. studying “Sports Media” at Holmesglen TAFE

  18. Just as Alan Border should have got a Gold Pass to bat for Australia for as long as he liked Chappy should have had one at Geelong , he should have been allowed to play for as long as he liked. Both were servants of the team & saved the team innumerable times.

  19. AF – is there snow in Alice at the moment?

  20. You are absolutely right Harmsy.
    Chappy should never have left Geelong.
    He needs pastels and light colours; not blocks of bolds. Trin and Susannah have long advised ‘pears’ that horizontal stripes are much kinder than vertical.
    What were his managers/stylists thinking???

  21. I was only thinking this morning that, for those who don’t like Chapman (yes, there are many), this makes it even easier.

  22. Chappy who?

  23. I’m riding the True Detective wave with ya, Litza. Magnificent.

    Second series of House of Cards goes pretty well too.

    I agree that we shouldn’t have to pay for footy, but let’s not get misty-eyed about free-to-air coverage pre-Foxtel. Given there are now nine staggered games across a weekend, something had to give.

    I originally subscribed so I could watch Australia in India.

    I much prefer Foxtel’s coverage of cricket to Nine’s, and as a golf and horses lover, I’m well catered for.

    The unexpected bonus has been the HBO stable.

  24. Phil Dimitriadis says

    JTH, your article alerted me to something I wasn’t aware of until I read it. Every Collingwood player whose jumper number I wore on my back either defected or was let go.
    My first woolen jumper in 1975, a hand-me-down from my older brother had number 6. Mckenna went to Carlton. In 1977-78 I wore number 2 Len Thompson…went to South and Fitzroy. 1979 30 Peter Moore-Melbourne. 1980 25 Billy Picken-Sydney, 1981 4 Mark Hannebery- Footscray, 1982 21 Mark Williams-Brisbane and the most shameful, in 1983 number 17 Mike Richardson-Essendon/Brisbane. My brother Tim’s first number was the 8 worn by Tuddy who went to Essendon. The only exception was the number 3 on the duffle coat between 1980-82, the mighty Stan Magro!

    As for Foxtel, I had it for a year and found my mind turning to mush because of my addiction to it. When I started following ‘Mob Wives’ I knew I had to pull the plug. The value of something is its rareness. Too much footy, too much white noise, hyperbole and vacuous sloganeering. Dips, the only positive about Foxtel was that I got to watch the entire series of the Sopranos.
    I haven’t written much about elite sport for the last year or so because I find that I don’t have many positive thoughts about it. I hope this changes. I want to reclaim my relationship with footy this year by going to VFL venues like Punt Rd and having a kick where Jack Dyer and Skinny Titus wowed them in the 1930s.

    Chappy is a champion and would have been in any era. It’s the Chappies of the game that keep us from becoming totally disconnected. Cheers.

  25. * passes the hat around to buy Phil Dimitriadis a Pies jumper with number 10 on it *

    Only kidding Phil.

  26. Litza and MOC; True Detective is just outstanding TV. And I’m more than happy to pay to watch it instead of shows featuring money hungry narcissists renovating inner-city flats, or cooking a steak, covering it with jus, shoving a few asparagus stalks on a plate and declaring it gourmet. Give me a spell…

  27. I am with Lord Bogan 100% on Foxtel. The alternative is not free to air – save for footy, Rake and the Good Wife.
    Its called books, movies and connecting with your community.
    Foxtel and HBO would quickly take my mind captive and turn me into an addicted passive consumer. I am determined not to succumb until retirement – having wasted far too much time and life already.
    I am sure the True Detective box series will be out soon enough. We consume Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire that way.

  28. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Steve, don’t please! My daughter wears number 10 for Pendles. Should I be worried?

  29. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Every AFL recruiter should be on the phone to Phil ! Corrupt bookies eat your heart out

  30. I can empathise Phil. I jumped on the Richo bandwagon too in ’83-84. He certainly was the quintessential ‘outside’ player long before Craig Bradley crossed the border. With his sandy blonde hair, I remember him being talked up as a dark horse for the Brownlow in ’83 only to poll 3 votes (for his Round 22 7 goal effort against the Saints). Geez, him and Raines were quick to leave in ’86 weren’t they?

    My duffle coat/footy jumpers were:
    1980 – Kink 36
    1981 – Moore 30
    1982 – Daicos 35
    1983-84 Richo 17
    1985 – 2014 Daicos 35 never to be removed mum.
    …think I had a Picken 25 in there somewhere as well.

  31. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Damo, it’s interesting how we romanticise some players. I always loved Daics, but I never wore the 35. Maybe being a self-loathing Greek had something to do with it!

    Kink was very popular in 1980, especially with the girls…Incredible Hulk/Hairdresser/Crack in ‘The Club’ etc.
    Richo played some fine games in 83-84. That First Semi in 84 at VFL Park I think Daicos kicked 7 and Richo 5. We killed Carlton and knocked them out of the finals! The worst number faux pas was when a mate in Year 7 in 1982 rocked up with the number 20 on the back of his brand new jumper. Graham Teasdale. Unfortunate choice!

  32. I remember that ’84 1st semi fondly from the top deck of the Sir Kenneth Luke. Recall Richo slotting a set shot from the boundary with ease. Was a handy HFF. Like Choko should never have left the Pies.
    Teasdale? That is hilarious! I actually have an image of him taking a grab vs. Melb at the G. Might have been his one and only game for the Woods.

  33. I had a big Boofa Davis 19 on my DC, with Daics and Picken on the bottom corners. I’m still pissed off that my Mum threw it out.

  34. I must say i have no problems what so ever seeing Colin Sylvia playing in the Purple and Anchor.

  35. Daniel Flesch says

    Anyone care to predict how Sydney Swan L. Franklin will go this year ? Looking forward to the match against the mighty fighting happy Hawks.

  36. Does Daniel still want to know how Franklin went this year?

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