Luke Beveridge, the Bulldogs faithful, and Play On

Play On front cover final

Buy a copy of Play On


The following story was written the day after the Grand Final…


The Western Bulldogs were absolutely magnificent yesterday – the players, the coaches, the supporters, everyone. Last night I sat in the study with tears in my eyes as I watched the highlights of the players greeting the crowd as they completed their lap(s) of the MCG.

I’m told (thanks to Coach Farrow) that, at the Western Bulldogs function, Luke Beveridge read an extract from Play On. That is a great honour for me. (And a great surprise!)


Here are the words Luke Beveridge read out:

Footy is about these things. It confirms your suspicions that there is something more. It alerts you to the existence of the soul. It invites you to be faithful and loyal. It demands you be faithful and loyal. And just when you are doubting it you see a game which makes you realise why you are so enthusiastic about it.

You see courage, you see commitment, you see personal sacrifice, you see skill and you see beauty and you are uplifted. Footy is one of the few places in contemporary life where you experience the transcendent.

Footy is also about suffering and suffering can be uplifting. Suffering is the natural state. It is honest. And how we respond to that suffering is elemental. Suffering can bring us together and it is only when we understand the suffering of others can we understand the fullness of joy.

So when we watch the premiership flag unfurled, there are tears. In those tears, there is at once joy and suffering.


The funny thing is, I was thinking about those words during the week, after watching Bob Murphy after the preliminary final, and after thinking about Luke Beveridge who strikes me as a man with a great capacity for love. I was thinking about the section which follows. Bob Murphy’s tears prompted me to go back and read it:


The poet Virgil was no dill. He had never heard of footy (or the Geelong Football Club) yet he observed: Sunt lacramae rerum et mentem mortalia tangent. ‘There are tears at the centre of things and mortality touches the heart.’

Footy is about life in the face of death; hope in the face of despair. Footy is about the things in the very centre of existence.


I suspect every single Bulldogs supporter – indeed every footy lover no matter what the club – would relate to these words.

The shared joy of the Doggies has lifted us all.


Thanks Doggies, thanks Luke Beveridge, thanks Bob Murphy.


What follows is an article published on this site last year:


Play On front cover final


When Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter and Loose Men Everywhere first came out they received outstanding reviews. Here’s some of the comments as collated by Text Publishing at the time:


“Nick Hornby for Australian conditions…a craftsman of rare skill, a national treasure in the making.” Geelong Advertiser


Loose Men Everywhere

“Well-written…funny…gloriously, quintessentially Australian – capturing the great Aussie game endearingly and personally.” Courier Mail

“A Very funny book.”   Sunday Tasmanian

“A complete delight.”   Australian Financial Review


Memoirs of a Mug Punter

“Delightful…light of touch, unsentimental, shrewdly paced.” Canberra Times

“It’s impossible not to share Harms’ enthusiasm for the horse, and impossible not to take a liking to the writer…Truly enjoyable.” Australian Bookseller and Publisher

“Anyone who likes a good laugh will enjoy this book.” Brisbane News


Confessions of a Thirteenth Man

“Funny…Profound…genuinely touching.”   Who Weekly

“Engaging and witty…should be in every cricket lover’s library.”   Inside Sport

“[This book] is no dry dissection of the [98-99] Ashes’ Tour…[It] is a primer for those who understand that to love and understand cricket is to love and understand life. Even more, it’s an entertaining and perceptive cultural portrait.” The Australian


From Justin Murphy:


I have only known John Harms for 35 years, but I think I know what makes him tick – he is fascinated by people and loves the way their passions and pastimes create communities and reveal the human condition. He needs to know why the world is as it is, and he’s prepared to have a damned good time on this journey of discovery. If you join him on his quest, wonderfully revealed in his first three books, you will certainly be entertained, you will definitely be delighted, and you may even be enlightened…



Play On front cover final

Buy a copy of Play On


Read more pieces from John Harms



  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    To Andrew McLeod of Moonee Ponds (and Ascot Vale CC) – you can keep that copy I lent you a few years back, I’ve got a new one.

  2. bob.speechley says

    Read all 3 books and enjoyed them enormously. Travelling over familiar territory much of the time but gaining new perspectives on the role of sport and the valuable contribution it makes to Australian society.

  3. Andrew McLeod says

    Autographed ?

  4. Great fun at the book launch at the NFA in Melbourne. (And the 2016 season launch).

  5. Matt Zurbo says

    GOLD! Gold writing, golden result! Perfect.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Huge honour for Bevo, JTH. Can you sue him for copyright?

  7. Colin Ritchie says

    Priceless, all round!

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Pffft, I bet he’s never even heard of S Tsaikos. Bandwagoner. Put him on the 2016 cover though.

  9. “And John ‘Bonecrusher’ Harms races into equine immortality………”
    Being quoted by Bevo in front of 20,000 people is the Cox Plate for any footy writer. Come to think of it – more the Miles Franklin for an Australian writer in any genre.
    Well played that man.

  10. Great selection by Bevo. He is obviously a reader and a leader.

  11. Perfect.

  12. Any collection of books mentioning Harry Frei, Fred Patterson and Stan Tsaikos obviously ha something going for it. As a sporting trilogy you won’t find better.


  13. Well done Harmsy, not all great moments in footy happen on the field.

  14. DBalassone says

    They are really beautiful words JTH – I hear a bit of Paul’s epistles in them – and I’m stoked to hear that Bevo recited them. Surely Bevo graces the cover of TFA this year. What a man!

    The Virgil quote’s a beauty too, and reminds me of the Warren Zevon lyric:

    And the rain comes down in the midst of spring
    There’s a sadness in the heart of things
    (The Heartache)

  15. Keiran Croker says

    Great stuff John. And well done on Friday’s Almanac Lunch .. A great day! Tell me why I thought the Dockers would finish 1st. Well there is always next year for my Top 8 selections …. And for the Swans!

  16. Aussie gus says

    As I said in my post in GF week. Beveridge is no dill and is a student of the game. He will take snippets and store them for when they can be used

    That is why he coaches AFL with the touch of the suburban coach. It’s not all cliches. There is still some life lessons to be learned

    Can I suggest you all read Bleachers by John Grisham as another view of how a coach can effect their players and their surroundings

  17. Thanks Everyone.

    Love those references Glen. You have read very closely. And thanks for the bouquet.

    Good to know that Luke Beveridge is looking far and wide.


  18. JTH
    My son was at the function, and said that after “Bevo” read your words aloud there was not a dry eye in the house.

  19. I was just reminiscing, going through the statistics of the on field career of Luke Beveridge.

    One of his best games for the Dees was when he kicked 5 against Brisbane at the Gabba. A teammate then was Peter Rohde. They both took similar/different paths after their playing days. Yes they both coached the tricolours, but where they took them on the ladder is vastly different.


  20. Bloody brilliant JTH

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