Port no match for the Cats at Kardinia

Sunday afternoon. I am in the position; the same position I’ve been in for almost a fortnight. In bed, leg up. I have a maroon plaster cast from toe-to knee. I am feeling very Queensland and very Fred Flintstone. And pretty sore.

A bowtie-wearing surgeon has put my right foot back together. He is a foot surgeon, with very classy rooms: high-ceilings, classic furniture and antiquarian sculptures of feet.

He is also a man of strong opinions. As I was being placed on the operating table he told me that beard-rubbing ABC types give him the shits. I am not sure if this is edgy humour, but at the time I thought that if the anaesthetic didn’t agree with me, and I never woke up – ever – they would have been the last words I heard from a fellow human being. Ahhh, the human condition.

Fortunately I did wake up, which has allowed me to continue life with The Handicapper and the kids. The Handicapper has been showing uncommon sympathy, mainly because my inambulant state precludes me from going to the pub and the TAB, and also because she gets to give me an injection each day for blood-thinning.

Despite the fact she is a doctor, who should know about injections, she decides to be  very cautious and responsible, so she watches the instructional DVD that comes with the needles. I contend that she has taken the words, “Now, take hold of the fatty flesh near the belly button, and pierce the skin, using the syringe like a dart” a little too literally. The “like a dart” part has turned her in to Simon Whitlock.

I suspect there is an element of revenge in this. Although I am in no position to challenge The Handicapper on it, as I am entirely dependent on her good nature to keep me alive at the moment.

The foot is an old sporting injury: I got run over by a car at the Adelaide Test in December. It’s too long a story to tell now, but it was a one in a million situation, at 10 in the morning long before the first beer.

So I have been lying in bed, foot up, reading the contributions to the footyalmanac website, tapping away at the keyboard about Chappy and other loves, and getting a few things organised for The Almanac. I’ve been listening to the wireless: Francis and Ox on SEN; Gerard and Dwayne on 3AW. I’ve watched a bit of TV – a lot of footy. Albeit while ensuring the kids don’t jump on the foot.

The footy itself has been pretty good; some of the commentary, not so good. Mark Robinson’s interview of Campbell Brown on Channel 7’s Sunday morning show was illustrative. It was rude and chummy at the same time. We are now in a moment where the footy world is so incestuous that footy journalists (and others) begin comments and questions with “We know Campbell’s a good bloke and he’s a good mate, but…” Please! The Robinson approach put him at the centre of things, as if he were saying to Brown, “We’re all very disappointed with you.” A more sophisticated approach from a senior journalist can surely be expected. He was lucky Brown didn’t tell him to shove the interview where his typewriter don’t fit. But then there are marketing and branding issues at stake with Brown as one of the faces of the emerging Gold Coast franchise.

If he wants to be self-indulgent Mark Robinson could start a website like footyalmanac.com where he can write what he likes.

And so to the footy later that afternoon. And I mean later. The Geelong-Port match started on Channel 7 at three o’clock. Sebastian Clark arrived (with pastries) and we tried to make sense of a clumsy opening quarter from Kardinia Park. Clearly, despite the sunshine, the conditions were tricky, with a blustery wind. But the Cats also butchered the ball and Port just didn’t seem good enough.

Once the Cats clicked in to gear, and opened up the game, the goals came. This gave Channel 7 opportunity to show half a dozen ads, a good reason (for them, and no-one else) to telecast the game on delay. Ottens looked mobile and contested well. James Kelly and Joel Corey seemed to be getting plenty of the footy. Jimmy Bartel roamed about picking up kicks. Cameron Ling tried to take a speccie on one of his own, which amused the blanketed matriarchs in the Brownlow Stand. Scarlo looked like he had no opponent. Big Hawk bounced around, appearing comfortable inside 50, and uncomfortable in the ruck. Travis Varcoe, on his birthday, was again one of the sparks, his acceleration and pace a standout. Duncan showed he can kick the footy, with a nice goal on the run from 50. Chappy is working himself in to the season, the old bugger. Dasher looked sprightly, as if he’d found the right combination of multi-vitamins. But nothing much memorable happened.

As for Port: they contested well early, but once they were beaten (a moment which came before half-time) they offered little. Wide camera shots showed a lot of stationary Port jumpers. Boak and Gray had their moments; both are classy footballers. But really, it was like an early round match at the Australian Open.

The Cats have opened nicely. They have brought a few new ones in: Menzell looks good and given he can take a grab might be more than a running half-forward. He may be able to play a tall 188cm, a la Malcolm Blight, (please), rather than a short 188cm, in which case he may also be an option up forward in the way Ryan Gamble always promised he would, but didn’t quite deliver.

Which brings me to St Kilda and the final game of the round. I farewelled Sebastian and had a quick look at their clash with the Bombers. The Saints looked awful. They now have the bye. Their next fixture is against Brisbane at the Gabba on Easter Thursday. The Lions will throw everything at them. Lose that, and they are gone.

What wasn’t lost on me was the timing of the match. I was watching the third quarter on Foxtel. At the same time Channel 7 was running their story on Kim Duthie, the so-called St Kilda girl. I was wondering who was watching what? What had greater appeal to viewers: the actual footy, or the Duthie-Nixon saga? And how distracted were some of the St Kilda players, if not all of them? Wondering how they were portrayed, and what Kim Duthie had to say about them.

Such is the modern footy world.

And such is the lot of the invalid. You can tape one and watch it later.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. 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. Maroon plaster John? Shame on you.

    I had blue there for a while and I put white taped hoops around it.

    Those around me shook their heads but I didn’t mind.

  2. Alovesupreme says

    My sympathies for your condition, and best wishes for your recovery. I was only precluded from walking for four days after my operation, but the post-operative recuperation is still in progress four months on.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says

    What some people will do to avoid helping round the house!!!!

    You hit the nail on the head re incestuous footy world. I cringed when I heard Luke Darcy talking about Campbell Brown being such a fair player.

  4. You have my sympathy John. My beloved administered the blood-thinning dart-to-the-tummy treatment to me a couple of years ago. Not fun…though she seemed to find the experience quite rewarding.

    No wonder we didn’t see you at that well known South Geelong hostelry (incorporating a Lucky Shop) on Sunday. Your excuse is accepted. Might see you in a Moon(ey) boot soon. Perhaps it will feature blue and white hoops?

    Happy TV watching.

  5. Stainless says

    And mine too John. As it happens, I’m also on blood-thinning injections for a clot in my leg. My handicapper earned a straight red for her first painful attempt and I’m now self-administering (and getting quite good at it I might add!)

    I’ve seen all Geelong’s games on the box so far and I agree they’re looking pretty good. Long may it continue – we need a force for good to combat the black and white empire.

  6. brother David says

    #5 My greatest fear in football – a Collingwood era. How can one survive it. However it can only enhace the joy of defeating them.
    Sad reflection on Port Adelaide when reading about a recovery post foot surgery is far more interesting.
    JTH is the clexane dose 180.

  7. Do not panic,
    The Black and White peril will be defeated by the bloods in the Prelim.
    Remember you read it here first at the almanac.

  8. johnharms says

    Brother David, I like that. ONly a true darts lover would pick that up. She’s started yelling 180 just as the dart goes in.

  9. JTH – happy to hear you are recovering and on the way back.

    Stainless, Brother David, Saintly….et al.

    There is obviously a real smell of fear out there surrounding the possibility of a black and white dynasty. Can I say that this is a most enjoyable set of circumstances to behold….

    History shows that dynasties occur infrequently and even back-to-back flags are very difficult to win. But it is nonetheless a delicious thought to contemplate!

    As they say – we may as well enjoy it while it lasts.

  10. Phil Dimitriadis says


    at least your injuries have occurred whilst doing stuff you love. Sounds like you are suffering for your art.

    I’d love to be involved in an Almanac Dart tournament. Enjoy playing around the board. After the 2003 GF me and my brother placed a picture of Rhyce Shaw’s head on the Bullseye and we became very accurate quite quickly. It’s amazing what a bit of vindictive focus can do. Get better soon mate

  11. JTH, a mirror image is occurring here at the Cottage.

    The handicapper has had the foot operated on, after a horse stood on it many years ago. Nursing her and keeping a 4 year old entertained has greatly reducing my ability to watch any footy at all.

    Just as Better Homes and Gardens wound up last night, she proclaimed that we should watch a DVD. I replied, “let’s just see if the Tiges can serve it up to Carringbush, if it blows out, we’ll chuck on a DVD.”

    Luckily, she lost interest during the pre-match and hobbled off to bed to read. I was then able to happily watch Swan, Pendlebury and Cotchin rack up Supercoach points.

  12. The beauty of Foxtel’s various IQ boxes is you can remote-record, surely the Sainters are into that?

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