Poetry: Fifty Years of Football


By Rod Ryan 


I’m a footy fan and the game belongs to me

It’s all about the Sherrin and the mighty MCG

I’ve seen fifty years of footy, fifty years of magic

I’m the same as all of us, I’m just a footy tragic

It’s all about September, the finals and the flag

Still my best memories ever, are at the footy with my dad.


I asked my dad the question, who was the toughest of them all?

He took a breath way down deep and then stood really tall

Number 17 for Richmond son, a bloke by the name of Dyer

Anyone who tells you different boy is just a bloody liar

He was a ruckman as tough as nails and certainly no dud

Everyone was scared of him, they called him Captain Blood.


In the 63 Grand Final, Geelong beat the brown and gold

One hundred thousand people saw a legend about to unfold

Graham Farmer was the star, along with Billy Goggin

And those 30 metre handballs will never be forgotten

The big cat was awesome – a  legend of our game

From the West, he was the best, Polly Farmer was his name.


Big Carl Ditterich was one really tough talented young ‘Ombrey’

Six foot four, full of agro and a match winner on his day

I can still see his back page photo after his best on ground first game

The blond bombshell from East Brighton was destined for football fame

A giant of a man, who would never back away from a fight

Sadly his favourite pastime was confession at the tribunal, every Tuesday night.


In sixty six I stood on beer cans so the game I could see

We were all packed in so tight and I was bustin’ for a pee

The game was on a knife edge and headed for a draw

I could hardly see a thing, but I heard the mighty roar

Breeny kicked a point and the Saints fans went absolutely nuts

Alan Jeans was the winner – Bobby Rose copped it in the guts.


My uncle Jim Cardwell and his red haired mate Norm Smith

Loved and ruled the Demons and that’s certainly not a myth

Barassi was their captain, a leader who always had a crack

He was Melbourne’s hero and wore the number thirty-one on his back

Ronald Dale Barassi went on to coach with outstanding results

A positively motivated football icon, with a big grin and very few faults.


I never saw John Coleman play, but dad said he was a gun

A super star who flew so high and kicked goals on the run

There’s nothing better than the “Speccy” or the big grab in the square

Or a spiral from sixty meters out, just doesn’t seem real fair

But I have seen Wade, Dunstall, Ablett, McKenna, Pavlich and Lockett

And in my dreams, I’ve kicked the winning goal from deep inside the pocket.


Was it in or was it out?

That’s what the 79 Grand Final was all about

Thirty years and more and the debate still goes on

But the Pies can’t change the result – right or wrong

And to rub salt into the wounds of the Magpie Army

The first ever Norm Smith Medal went to our mate Harmsie.


Show and tell at kindergarten, got me into strife

My son told them his dad played for Hawthorn and all things very nice

Melbourne full-back Ray Biffin’s son Todd – said it was a lie

Things got pretty ugly and my boy Robbo copped one in the eye

Things were very quiet at home as I was in disgrace

My football dream was over, I was put back in my place.


In 1982 South Melbourne moved to Sydney and Bobby cried and cried

But if they hadn’t made the move they surely would have died

Today we have eighteen teams and a national competition

There’s no more beer and cigarettes – it’s all about nutrition

But hey you guys in suits, up high in the stands behind the glass

Don’t forget us footy fans or we’ll give you all the arse.


The Blues ‘82 back to back Grand Final win was absolutely sacred

But the highlight of the day was Helen D’Amico – totally naked

One hundred thousand fans all went completely numb

While poor old Brucey Doull shit himself and cried out for his mum

Louey Richards in the broadcast box didn’t know what to say

While his side kick Peter “Randy” Landy, called for an instant replay.


In the ‘89 Grand Final the Hawks came out to play

But those boys from Geelong were going to make them pay

Yeatesy lined up Dermott and got him with a ripper

And then those Kardinia Park boys, went after our mate Dipper

The Hawthorn boys hung on all day and gave it all they had

Gazza got nine sausage rolls, but still fell short a tad.



Mr Football Teddy Whitten died in the year of ninety five

He waved us all goodbye in an open car while barely still alive

Number three for the Bulldogs and the champion of the Big V

He was an inspirational player with a flick pass you couldn’t see

A champion football star, whose memory will live long and loud

“Stick it right up ‘em Teddy Boy” – you make us all so proud.


Kevin Sheedy from the East, Jack Sheedy from the West

Both passionate football icons, I’m sure you will attest

And what about those Cornes boys and classy Malcolm Blight

Proud South Australians who’d fight and fight and fight

Tassie boys Hudson, Baldock and Tiger Roycey Hart

Champions one and all, who’ve made our game an art.


Leigh Mathews is the same age as me, but played a few more games

Considered by many as the greatest of some very big names

He was a Hawthorn powerhouse made of stone, iron and grit

And when he lined you up, you knew you were going to get hit

A magnificent player, coach, commentator and football man

I loved to watch him play – I’ve become his biggest fan.


Friday night footy at the “G” was really getting sexy

I’d sit there in the members with my mates tuned into Rexy

Footy under lights was fantastic – a shame one team had to lose

But the star who shone the brightest was number eighteen for the Roos

Wayne Carey was the king – he could really run amok

He was the captain and the leader – a superstar, known as the duck.


This young kid Ablett, by crikey he can play

The Son of God – even the Cats prayers couldn’t make him stay

Lured north for the challenge and to improve his financial means

Gazza junior obviously inherited his old man’s genes

A magnificent player admired by the whole football nation

A credit to his family and our current generation.


The modern era has seen our game go through many changes

It’s faster, quicker, but certainly not without dangers

The hard men of days gone by, made the hair stand up on my neck

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone hit the deck

I loved the game before and I still love the game today

The only thing that’s changed for me is my hair’s gone thin and grey.


  1. Mark Johnston says

    Rod the passion is felt through this poem that inspires not just in a football sense but in a persons desire to succeed which shows who you are today you would of inspired people who have read this as it portrays how a game can teach a person many lessons in life. Great writing for the game. Go the Roo’s!

  2. Thanks for the memories Rod. I could really identify with the last 2 lines.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Loved it Rod v clever , your harmsie mention is amusing and having been at the 82 GF
    Helen D ‘ Amico was certainly a highlight , you have my admiration and jealously for the ability to write this . Thanks Rod

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