Opening lines of Loose Men Everywhere

from Loose Men Everywhere, on of the three books in the Play On omnibus. Please note it was written pre-Joel Selwood and published in 2002.


You have to be born somewhere.

I could have been born into some comfortable bluestone villa in Hawthorn, just up the road from Glenferrie Oval, in which case the whole of the 1970s and the 1980s would have been a far more pleasant experience. I’d have been given a middle name like Poutney. I’d have had a floppy college-boy haircut, made smokes-money out of trading footy cards and skipped to the music of half a dozen great Hawk premierships. I would have been happy and optimistic child. I would have liked Leigh Matthews. I would have been sent off to some school held together by the twin virtues of Gilbert and Sullivan where I’d have wagged cadets, preferring the company of my mate’s sister up the back of the rowing shed. And today I would be a happy and optimistic adult; a Gillette-ad husband and father who believes in his own goodness and honesty and consequently, after a few glasses of Hill of Grace, is forced to make hot-eared admissions that he likes things like John Howard’s power walk and Channel 9 cricket memorabilia. I’d own shares and BMWs in a ratio of about fifty-thousand to one. I’d sleep easily at night knowing that in every Hawthorn person like me there is some John Kennedy and Chris Mew and Chris Langford: the sort of men who hold the world together.

Or, I could have been born into a housing commission fibro in Footscray, in which case the 1970s and 1980s would have been a far more pleasant experience because I wouldn’t have had to go to school, or felt pressured to achieve anything. I’d have just lived-and lived proudly-west of the Maribyrnong. And I wouldn’t have expected Footscray to win a premiership, so just following the footy would have been enough. I’d have had a short and long haircut (part in the middle) that Dougie Hawkins would have died for, and traded in left hooks and durries. I’d have made money selling Footy Records on the Geelong Road side of the Western Oval to save up for me first tattoo-Elmer Fudd pointing a shotgun at me freckle and saying, “Come out you wascally wabbit.” And when the hormones kicked In I would have got meself a Sandman and an Angels album and set about repopulating Sunshine off me own bat. These days I’d be a happy adult who loves pizza and Homer Simpson and the serenity at Lake Eildon. I’d still have me Dennis Lillee moustache and I’d have only cried a couple of times in me life: once when Teddy did the lap at the MCG and the other time when Chris Grant didn’t go to Port Adelaide.

At least if I’d been born in Hawthorn or Footscray I’d have some idea of who I was.

I wasn’t. I was born in a little town cut out of the brigalow scrub on the rich black soil of the western Darling Downs. The town of Chinchilla would have been fine if I’d been born into a Catholic rugby league family, or was the son of some sun-spotted rugger-loving grazier who’d been to school at Churchie in Brisbane. Things might have made sense then. But I was born into a life of confusion and frustration, a life of upset and despondency, a life of tears.

I was born a Geelong supporter.

Not only was I born a Geelong supporter but I was born in exile; a Geelong supporter in the Queensland bush, where people had no idea of what footy was or meant. I suspect I hit the light of day, felt the blue and white pulsing through my veins, looked out the window and immediately frowned, “There must be a mistake. Are you sure? Is this right?”

Play On is one of the rewards available through the Almanac crowdfunding campaign which is drawing to a close – see the other rewards on offer and make a pledge here now. Thank you to all who have pledged so far. 


Play On cover2

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and 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. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    To think that you didn’t even know Rick Kane or Neil Anderson when you wrote this.

  2. It was even before I had lived in Melbourne Swish. Geelong were becalmed in the doldrums with little prospect of the slightest breeze coming their way.

    We got here in 2003.

  3. Neil Anderson says

    If you only got to cry a couple of times if you barracked for Footscray you would have been king of the stoics.
    You must have been firmly in the bosom of Geelong when 1997 rolled around.
    It’s hard to believe Hawthorn was becalmed for so long as well. And as for Footscray, we’re still waiting for the wind to pick up and move us off the sand-bar.

  4. I have your book John.
    You signed it for me. I’m sure you remember…
    Your book is in a box.
    Reading that opening, I want to get it and read it again on the plane to Melbourne tomorrow.
    However, I don’t know what box it is in, and there’s more than fifty boxes of sport books downstairs.
    So I’m going to read the 2014 Footy Almanac instead…

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