Round 14 – Collingwood v Port Adelaide: A Messerschmitt up your arse or free bird seed

 

During the second quarter, on the fifty-metre arc, at the Punt Road end was, to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson, when the stories and the beer began to take hold.

 

Six of us are in Row S, connected by the time we spent together at Kapunda High School, and variously on the cricket and footy ovals of the Barossa.

 

Much of our conversation is our old cars and coaches and mates and publicans and parents and maverick teachers who shaped us.

 

It’d been a ripping trip so far: early flights, the North Fitzroy Arms for the Footy Almanac lunch which concluded with the final siren at the SCG, the obligatory Young and Jackson nightcaps, and a Saturday laneway breakfast.

 

With the Uber app showing cars descending like black Pacmen three of us ride in a Caprice, and I’m reminded of the great Dave Graney and his song “Feelin’ Kinda Sporty” which opens with the magnificent

A black Statesman `73

Caprice.

Leaded.

At high noon, and accompanied with ample yarns, we entered the All Nations Hotel to confer with the ghost of Bill Hunter, and then white pub-vanned to the MCG as the match commenced. Each of us is merrily apathetic about the result.

 

I love footy, but occasionally its lone function is to provide a panoramic context across which we can splash our stories. Rocket would love to be watching his beloved Sturt while Nick, the Hayward boys (not Kapunda’s Gatlin boys) and Lukey are Norwood men, but as neither is scheduled at the MCG today we get along to Collingwood and Port.

 

With the match chugging along Nick and I discuss contemporary AFL footballers and old players from home, in particular one Mail Medallist and local publican who loved scrapping at the bottom of a pack, like a nuggetty 1970’s Selwood.

 

“You know what he used to do in the sheds before a game?”

“No. Tell me.”

“He’d smear heaps of Vaseline on his eyebrows so the elbows would slide off.”

I giggle.

 

Needing to refresh their refreshments the Haywards return with their shouts: Bundy for them, and mid-strength beers for us. For a moment, I fear we’ll need petroleum jelly too, but happily there’s no fight in the forward pocket.

 

We move onto that most vital of topics: Which Test Cricketer would you most like to have a beer with? (until very recently in pre-production at Network Ten).

 

“Warney?”

“There’s nothing to discover. Nothing.”

“Yeah, and I can’t have a beer with someone who calls their book, ‘My Autobiography.’”

“That’d have been a funny meeting at the publishers.”

I take a difficult sip of my mid-strength. “Waugh twins?”

“No. Steve’d bore you to death.”

“The worst kind of mental disintegration.”

 

Ultimately our choice is clear. One of the most stylish middle-order bats we’ve seen, and still a bloke about whom little is really known. An anti-Warney. The one who quit the night of the famous 2006 Ashes victory in Adelaide. Damien Martyn.

 

On the ground, Port is doing well with Robbie Gray slotting a few while Unley Jets alumnus Brodie Grundy is holding his own for the Magpies.

 

We wonder if the Chappell brothers still own the Leg Trap Hotel, and if David Warner is less likeable than a curved television and if it’s possible to make Boonie more Australian. It isn’t.

 

This brings us to the best quotation ever, the one which places sport and our little, self-tortured world into perfect context. Nick remembers his Dad giving him Australian all-rounder and WWII pilot Keith Miller’s book. “Pressure,” Keith said. “I’ll tell you what pressure is. Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse. Playing cricket is not.”

 

Still laughing at the magnificence of this, Rocket heads off to a cavern and emerges with some appropriate beers. Normal transmission is resumed. Pendlebury is smooth and constructive, as usual. We note that Ollie Wines has thighs like Californian redwood.

 

The conversation then tends, as it must, towards other nostalgia and juvenalia. We’re now at Stalag 13. The verdant field of the MCG recedes and we’re all in front of a black and white TV, sliding our paws into packets of Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs.

 

“Burkhalter and Hochstetter.”

Much giggling, given to misty eyes.

“Captain Hoganhoffer?”

“No prisoner has ever escaped from Stalag 13.”

More giggling.

“I’d like to hear this on the BBC World Service: Munich Messerschmitts 2, Stalag 13, 3.”

 

Someone slides next to me with a pie. A message comes through that another Kapunda High contemporary is on the second deck behind the Port cheer squad. We wave at Maria, who waves towards our bay.

 

Looking back now it makes sense, and indeed there’s a happy inevitability in the childhood image that would become our weekend’s talisman. The footy is now on mute as we moved towards the creature that Mark Twain described as “a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton.” The coyote, but of course for us, Wile E Coyote.

 

I don’t know how we came to this, and I don’t want to know, but as the shadows lengthened across Melbourne, Lukey, with his talent for the comic and the absurd mentioned it and we were off.

“Easily the greatest cartoons ever.”

The coyote hanging in mid-air until he realizes that he is about to plummet into a chasm!”

“Yeah, and he’d hold up a sign like ‘Goodbye cruel world.’”

“Or ‘Help me.’”

“‘Mother.’”

By now the laughter and the memories and the beer and our good fortune at being in this fun space meant, for some of us, there were tears of childish abandonment.

“What of the Giant Kite Kit?”

“The roller skates and the fan blowing the coyote along?”

“From the Acme company.”

 

Bombs, detonators, nitroglycerin. Not so funny in 2017, but when you’re seventeen and watching Looney Tunes…

 

We talk of the Road Runner’s ability to enter the painted image of a cave, while the coyote cannot, which showed us that the existentialists are correct: it is an unknowable and absurd universe. Cartoons teach us this.

 

And then as the Paah (sic) delivered their knockout blow to Collingwood, Lukey delivered his knockout blow to us. A childhood picture that captures the fun, the innocence of the endless battle between the Roadrunner and the Coyote.

“Free bird seed.”

 

And there it was. Only three words. But a beautiful mantra of the past, a pulsing refrain, and the best televisual picture of a little bird nibbling at food in the desert, likely just outside Albuquerque.

 

COLLINGWOOD    1.0    4.3    6.7       9.8 (62)
PORT ADELAIDE   4.3    6.8    11.11   13.15 (93)

 

GOALS
Collingwood: Moore 3, Fasolo 2, Brown, De Goey, Crocker, Reid
Port Adelaide: R.Gray 5, S.Gray 2, Impey, Neade, White, Wingard, Wines, Dixon

BEST
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Treloar, Fasolo, Sidebottom, Goldsack, Reid
Port Adelaide: R. Gray, White, Powell-Pepper, Wingard, Wines, Hartlett, Jonas

INJURIES
Collingwood: Nil
Port Adelaide: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, S.Ryan, B.Ryan

Official crowd: 35,933 at the MCG

 

About Mickey Randall

Late afternoon beer, Exile on Main St playing. Sport like cricket, most types of football, golf, squash, horse racing. Travel, with Vancouver my favourite city, but there’s nowhere I’ve not happily been. Except Luton. Reading. Writing about family, sport, music, the stuff that amuses me. Conversation. Wit. Irony. McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon, Barossa shiraz, Coopers Sparkling Ale. Jazz and especially Miles Davis. Lots and lots of music. I live in Adelaide with my wife Kerry-ann and our boys Alex and Max.

Comments

  1. Dave Brown says:

    Looks like a good weekend had by all Mickey, except Collingwood. Colin Miller would be fun to have a beer with, I reckon.

  2. Cruel Mickey. I read this in the wee small hours of this morning. Couldn’t get back to sleep. The nerdy guy was ……….Newkirk. The cheeky cockney was ………….?? The Frenchman was ………………..? The cool black radio operator was ……………..?? The hot blonde that was Klink’s secretary and Hogan’s crush (hope she never spent much real time with Bob Crane) was …………………??
    Damn you triggering my trivia (trivial?) brain. Better than counting sheep I guess.

  3. Mickey, a wonderful yarn. Without these types of friends to keep us anchored in reality, anchored to life, what do we have?
    Great to catch up on Friday (albeit too briefly!!)
    Browney, I am fortunate enough to have enjoyed multiple beers with Colin Miller (aka “Zulu”, aka “Funky”). He is indeed as loose as you would think.

    Free bird seed. I am still laughing at the memory of it.

  4. And, by the way, that KR Miller quote is the greatest – bar none – in all of Australian sport.

  5. Ben Footner says:

    They’ve been running Looney Tunes early on a Saturday morning. Not sure my kids know what to make of them, but they still give me the odd chuckle.

  6. E.regnans says:

    Yours sounds the best way to experience that particular game, Mickey.
    Love the rambling, unfolding, planned and unplanned nature of it all. Of your weekend.
    Good to see you – and especially so with Percy, Syd Jackson and Geoff Southby in the very next room. With Phil Carman.

    Best quote – agreed – by some distance.

    Thanks for bring back to me now memories of the Acme batman outfit, the Acme giant magnet… and his Business Card: “Wile E Coyote: Genius. Have Brain, Will Travel”

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Lost in Space or Wacky Races? Three Stooges? Banana Splits?

    Does Wayne Prior qualify?

  8. Joe De Petro says:

    Awesome piece, Mickey.

  9. Thanks DB. I reckon most of the Test keepers would be interesting- and thirsty company. Top of this list for me is Tim Zoehrer.

    PB- I must declare- most of our touring party has more HH expertise than me. Sad confession: why they were watching that show I may have been glued to Lost in Space! I recall within this most recent decade as the number of FTA channels exploded that Love Thy Neighbour got a brief re-run. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t last.

    Smokie- Excellent to catch up and we may well cross paths at the Adelaide Test, or in the city environs! I love a boys’ trip when a certain theme presents itself- in our case “Free Bird Seed”- and keeps on giving. I’m sure we’ll laugh at this for decades. The KR Miller quote is world class. I hope there’s essays and feature articles on its significance. I may have a look.

    Ben- I’ve introduced our boys to the “Three Little Bops”- Well the piano playing pig was swinging like a gate/ Doing the Liberace on the 88/ I wish my brother George was here- and a few others, but they’re not quite there yet. More training required.

    Thanks E.r. I’m still processing Phil Carman’s speech- will reserve judgment until after the book. It was a great weekend which is superficially footy-centric, but of course, not really. It’s just a context and a conduit in some ways. I don’t think that’s uncharitable. I love footy.

    Swish- we did spend some time on the cartoon “Early to Bet”- you know the one with the gambling bug. The Wheel of Penalties. Roll out the barrel. The thinker. The works. Number 14: The Gesundheit. Genius. Much laughter about this too!

    Thanks to everyone.

  10. Mickey, Great to see you at the NFA. You and the Kapunda crew were magnificent. Rocket ‘Captain Sensible’ Ellis is a legend. Have been in many scraps with Rocket and shared many an ale at the Welly and a burger at the Boss Shop on O’Connell St at night’s end. He once provided me with one of the great gifts. I was staying with Rocket and Michelle when he was responsible for the buildings and drains around Coffs Harbour. En route to a dinner party in Sydney, I needed a gift for the host. Rocket had an idea. Saw us jumping the fence of a Coffs banana plantation while he cut me off a bunch which could barely fit into the back of the Daihatsu Charade. Great to see Hollis – one of the world’s finest MCs with as natural a style as I have ever seen. The Kapunda 150th remains one of the classic nights.

    Don’t forget about the place of the anvil in Road Runner cartoons. And in all cartoons.

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Entertaining read Mickey. Collingwood’s play reminds me of Wily E Coyote and his penchant for slingshots…

  12. Good fun. Despite the shocking loss.
    BTW, I wasn’t up anyone’s arse.
    Jim Kesselschmidt

  13. Thanks Joe. Appreciate the feedback!

    JTH- A mate and I visited Rocket and Michelle when they lived in Coffs too. As Rod was playing footy for the North Coffs Kangaroos they became a side I follow too. I still use their stubby-holder from time to time! On our first night in town we met Rod and his footy mates at a beach pub, and promptly won the meat-tray. Heady days!

    Thanks Phillip. I’d bet a dollar than Dane Swann has a Wily E. Coyote tattoo.

    Cheers Jim. Don’t worry, Collingwood can still make the 8!

  14. Peter_B says:

    Chris Scott is clearly a reader of your work Mickey. Wiley Buzzard! Is there a Fergus Leghorn in Geelong’s future?

  15. Luke Reynolds says:

    Mickey, good to see they let you in at Young & Jackson’s this time!

    Love the conversation at the footy. Justin Langer and Ryan Harris are the Test cricketers I’d love to have a beer with. Maybe Phil Tufnell too….

  16. PB- I do like a coach with a sense of humour and honesty. One who can reference some pop culture goes a long way in my book too!

    Luke- I once heard of one of those “empty your pockets and show us” columns in an English paper when Tuffers was the subject. Among the contents of his pockets were a packet of silk-cut fags and a late-night bus timetable. I do recall the “Air Tuffers” t-shirts from that Ashes tour when he was mostly certainly the worst fielder among professional cricketers, on the planet.

  17. Rulebook says:

    Mickey sounds like a great week end there is a lot to like about going to a game as a neutral to catch up with mates.Cricketers re having a beer having done 8 coaching clinics with Doug Walters convinced he has 2 livers.Matty Elliott great bloke extremely humble if anything,Herb lacked confidence in himself hurt him as a player.Wayne Phillips the king of 1 liners and hilarious.Cricket in Sa hard not to have had a beer with Dizz,Boof and Blewey.Would love to spend time with Gilly good stuff Mickey

  18. Thanks ‘Book. Of course the only member of cricket super-group Six and Out I’d really like to have a beer with is Richard Chee Quee.

    Interesting point on Matty Elliott and his lack of confidence, which is something I don’t immediately associate with top sportsfolk, at least not in a long-term, debilitating way.

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