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Round 18 – Sydney v Carlton: Oh, Brother

Woy Woy, NSW – 1987: In the sleepy coastal town that Spike Milligan once named ‘the largest above ground cemetery in the world’, two brothers were inadvertently introduced to a brave new world. The world of Australian Rules Football. Unlikely, indeed.


Woy Woy was, and still is, a tough town. As an eight-year-old boy, I must’ve sensed this. In a desperate move to covertly belong, (and to look as much like Peter Sterling as I possibly could) I grew a mullet – and an outstanding version of the trademark bogan hairstyle, it was. This would prove to be the zenith of my childhood fortitude however, as any sideways glance from Mum, would generally bring on the waterworks.


My younger brother Tully opted for an equally rugged, shaved hair-do. The crew cut was all the rage in our town, and he often accompanied this brawny style with his denim train-driver’s cap, and t-shirts that exposed as much bicep as possible. Oh yeah, we were tough alright. Well, almost thirty years of embellished reminiscence make it seem so, anyway. We were inseparable and our shared love of anything sport ensured we remained so.


Becoming a thick-necked Woy Woy Roosters Rugby League player was the general ambition of the boys in the town. Tully and I would hold our very own try-outs in fierce one-on-one battles in the backyard. Tensions escalated to the point that Dad, while walking through one of our epic matches, sent Tully from the field for head-high contact. His subsequent one-week suspension proved bitter-sweet for me, as I was left without an opponent for what seemed like an eternity.


During his week in purgatory, Tully stumbled across some pictures of the VFL mascots. VFL? This game was as foreign to us as strolling through Deepwater Plaza on a Saturday night, and having no breakdancing contest on. Well, my little bro found himself immediately seduced by the Woy Woy-type toughness of Captain Carlton. He could not be convinced that the Swans should be our team, and to this day, I wonder if he was taking some form of revenge and rebelling due to my painting his entire face with Vegemite under a scorching summer sun.


Apart from a purple patch in 2011, recent bragging rights have belonged with me. He’s stayed true as a Blue, and now with three lovely little Baby Blues in tow, the rivalry will extend to the throng of otherwise Bloods-barracking cousins. Recent matches have evoked only a murmuring of pre-match sledging and this one is no different. As much as I would dislike it happening, an upset win would reignite the rivalry.


Bolton’s Blues begin this bout looking as tough as the stonewash-jeaned kids from the local BMX Track – you know the type, fag hanging out of the mouth and a fondness for the one-finger salute that knows no bounds. That seems to be their approach today, and the Bloods seem surprised. They shouldn’t have been – this is a new Carlton. In an uncharacteristically high-scoring opening term, the visitors enjoy the lead. With the brothers Curnow leading the way, they will be hard to break down.


Woy Woy’s Australian Rules team is in fact named the Peninsula Swans. If we had’ve found our now-favourite code earlier, would my brother be a Bloods man too? The fashion in which Sydney have begun this match lends me to thinking that perhaps they could use some of the streetwise stealth that their Peninsula brothers would no doubt possess. Joey is clearly BOG for the good guys at halftime as this one remains in the balance.


The Swans have bullied The Blues in recent years, much like an elder brother does. But bullying one’s opponent always comes to an unsavory end. Tully endured many long days in the cricket field as a young fellow. Why? Because I like batting. One afternoon, when cycling home from work, Dad could see what was happening, and stopped to have a bowl. Steaming in off the long run, he sent my middle stump cartwheeling. I switched on the waterworks and Tully hit party mode – lesson learned.


The Blues are fighting back today and despite a stellar third-term, the Swannies can’t shake them off. After a quiet first half, Gaz and Heens spark their team with an attack on the ball, and the man, which is reminiscent of scenes from the Woy Woy train station. Dennis Armfield looks as though he has just come from spending the day at that exact location, but his manic approach is certainly influencing his team.


The final quarter is uncomfortable. The Swans have lost enough of these this year, thanks. When we streak away to a 20-point lead, comfort returns, but this does not last. When The Blues get to within a kick, I’m as scared as when our old schoolmate, Bradley Bell took to swinging at me with my very own cricket bat. Luckily he missed, and so did The Blues. We win and bragging rights remain.

Cop that, Captain Carlton.


Sydney 10.14 (74)

Carlton 10.8 (68)



Sydney: Franklin 4, Parker 2, Richards 2, Kennedy, Jack

Carlton: E.Curnow 2, C.Curnow, Sumner, Armfield, Kreuzer, Buckley, Boekhorst, Silvagni, Casboult



Sydney: Kennedy, Franklin, Parker, Lloyd, Mills, Rampe, Aliir

Carlton: Cripps, Gibbs, E.Curnow, Simpson, Docherty


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About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. Well played, Joe. And well told!
    Really enjoyed this reminiscing

  2. Joe Moore says

    Cheers, Smokie. I really enjoyed the telling of this one!

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