Paul Chapman and the Sari Club

by David Fordyce


Recent supporters might not know how close half the Geelong players were to the October 2002 Bali bombing. There were 21 young players 200 metres away, including Tim McGrath, Peter Riccardi, Steven King, Paul Chapman, Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly, Josh Hunt, Tom Harley, Cameron Mooney, James Rahilly, Kent Kingsley, David Clarke, David Spriggs, Henry Playfair, Matthew McCarthy, Will Slade and Marc Woolnough.


The following is from a 2003 article by Damian Barrett on on


On the previous six evenings, Chapman had attended the Sari Club. On the night of the blasts, something inside told Chapman to stay away. It was the fourth anniversary of his brother Glenn’s passing.

“We had been out every night while we had been in Bali, every night before that and we didn’t go out that night” Chapman said.


The following is from a 2002 article by Caroline Wilson


Tim McGrath said ‘I still wonder what it would have meant for our football club to have been wiped out’.


The 21 Geelong footballers were, in various ways, somehow putting off going out when the second bomb exploded at the Sari Club several hundred metres from their hotel.


The players had decided to remain at their hotel, the Bounty, that night, so as to be together on their last night. Several players were playing table tennis and Henry Playfair was entertaining some young teammates in the swimming pool with his Rod Carter and Blues Brothers impersonations.


Paul Chapman did not want to go out at all. Only later did McGrath realise it was the anniversary of his brother Glenn’s death.


After the huge explosion, the players helped set up a makeshift emergency centre in their hotel foyer, treating horrific injuries, fetching sheets from their beds for the blood, water for the burns and removing glass from bodies.


McGrath and Steven King took charge. They insisted the group stay together and King took them to the Hard Rock Cafe, further away from the scene, and where he was staying.


‘Some of them were jumping at shadows,’ said McGrath, who captained the Cats’ VFL team in 2003, ‘some were not coping at all.’ Others were dry-retching as they walked to King’s hotel at the sight of the burnt bodies. Of the 180 people killed that night, 88 were Australian.


Half the Geelong players spent the night in King’s room, the other half in the room of Peter Keenan’s son Sam.


McGrath and King told their teammates to call them at any time if they feel the need. ‘A few of us have just said that if any of us want to have a coffee or a chat we’re around,’ McGrath said. ‘I said a few months ago that this is the closest the playing group’s ever been in my time at Geelong.’


‘For the 20 or so who were there, it’s brought us even closer.’
The following was on Big Footy


Tim McGrath said on Open Mike in July 2015 that the Geelong players all stayed in their hotel the night of the Bali bombing and didn’t go out, because ‘Paul Chapman wasn’t quite right’, so they stayed in to support him.


  1. Cat from the Country says

    This reinfirces – always follow your instinct.
    Thank the Lord the Geelong players did.
    And terrific leadership by Tim McGrath and Steven King

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