Pies, Joffa and Barry Manilow on Grand Final day in Vegas

How Nick saved me from Mandy

In many years to come football fans around the globe will remember exactly where they were when the siren brought down the curtain on the 2010 drawn AFL Grand Final.

That’s the way it is with drawn grand finals.

I recall officiating over Bay 13 in a green coat as an usher (to support my La Trobe University lifestyle) at the ‘G in that memorable 1977 Grand Final where my namesake Ross ‘Twiggy’ Dunne  played out my dreams of lining up after the siren to determine the outcome of a Grand Final.

On September 25 last year I found myself,  along with three mates, in Las Vegas and viewing proceedings at the MCG from McMullens Irish pub just off the strip.

There was a hint of promise in the surroundings early with a plethora of St Kilda jumpers cramming into the main bar to secure the best vantage points under the Big Screen.

A quick count noted one attractive young lady flying the flag for Eddie’s boys- there may have been others but I didn’t see them.

It is at this point that it must be pointed out that I view Collingwood premierships in much the same

way I embrace death and taxes, with the latter slightly more palatable if the judge called for the camera.

So when the black and white army were going the early crow at half time and Joffa was unpacking that hideous gold jacket I was looking for an out.

I glanced up at a poster beside the ladies toilet door extolling the merits of taking in the Barry Manilow concert at the nearby Paris Las Vegas.

That was me.

I promptly announced to one of my travelling companions Herald Sun harness racing form analyst  and ‘Karaoke King’  Bill Hutchison that I was off to catch the last half of Barry.

With Collingwood 24 points up and seemingly in control, the thought of sitting through Barry Manilow ‘Writing The Songs’ about ‘Mandy’ all of a sudden had a utopian appeal about it.

I looked back with amusement at the incredulous expression on Hutchy’s face.

“Well buy me a beer before you go and subject yourself to that ‘has been’,” suggested Hutchy.

I was contemplating the remnants of the pot of beer two and a half minutes into the third quarter when Nick Riewoldt goaled for the Saints to bridge the gap.

As Riewoldt was receiving the obligatory high fives from his teammates, Hutchy firmly plonked a fresh pot in my hand.

And as Collingwood kept missing big sticks Barry was drifting and was a ‘write your own ticket’ job by the time the gathering Saints whittled down the margin to 8 points at the last break.

There was hope.

The atmosphere in the pro St Kilda bar was electric as the Saints surged in the last term, and but for the capricious mechanics of an oval shaped ball, the much maligned Stephen Milne would have been the toast of the supporters of 15 teams around the nation.


  1. I think I’d rather go to jail and/or watch Collingwood win a flag than sit through Barry Manilow.

  2. His name was Joffa,
    he had a gold coat,
    there was mayhem in the air,
    yobbo’s screeming every where……….

  3. Andrew Fithall says

    My life flashed before my eyes, and it was filled with the torment of knowing that Milne had kicked the winning goal in a grand final against my team. Even a life of having to listen to Barry Manilow on repeat would have been preferable to such an existence. Thanks to an oval shaped ball, I have to endure neither.

  4. Paul Daffey says

    I want to go to Las Vegas.

  5. I let Saints down in all big games
    I fumble near goal in special games
    I let them down and make allsaints cry
    I let them down I let them down

    ( Milney)

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Barry and the unpredictable bounce of the ball are both metaphors for life

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