Round 23 – Richmond v St Kilda: Squad Goals

I hadn’t made firm plans about attending this one, but I knew that at least two of my assorted Tiger Twits were going to be watching this together and for once, the Sunday 3:20pm slot suited.

Nearing Gate 4, there were a handful of families having a dob. My wish was granted when an errant kick came my way. In my dreams, I swooped on the loose ball, scooping it up with my left hand before a double baulk and clockwise blind turn was finished off with a left foot snap as I ran deeper into the pocket and away from the sticks. The resulting twin calicoes and simultaneous mobbing by my teammates and their cries of “not another one Swish, you’re on fire today” … 

Actually, I returned the ball from whence it came, pleasantly surprised that my attempted torp actually torped. And made the distance.

Twit #1 messaged me with a photo of his location as I stood in the “no bags” line. It’s significance was not immediately apparent.

The view from Grog Squad HQ

I’m not a big fan on standing room. I prefer being able to see the sky and the crowd in the upper decks while hearing the 360 degree roar of the crowd.

As I took in my new neighbours for the afternoon, I was reminded of the colourful ads for footy fan clothing that were staples of the Football Record in the 80s and 90s. I was surrounded by a sea of yellow and black bomber jackets, no two of them alike, the newer ones dating back to the early playing days of the current CEO. The highlight was one of those crocheted VB can hats in Tiger colours, worn totally non-ironically.

Used and recommended by the Grog Squad

So this is the famed Grog Squad, I realised, as Twit #2 lobbed. I hadn’t seen him since the 2015 Dreamtime Game. He doesn’t make it over Bass Strait that often, too busy presiding over his Buff Tyrell driven, parrot augmented, commercial art juggernaut.

(I’ll let T1 and T2 identify themselves in the comments if they wish)

I’m a fifty seven year old Crows supporter with bad hearing and I was having one of my “let me think about what I think you just said before I reply” afternoons, so my conversation with my companions flowed like frozen Vegemite in this cacophonous possie. Sorry fellas.

The Grog Squad wasn’t just blokes. Just in front of us was a clutch of ladies, all blond tips, shellacked nails and skinny jeans, holding phones with screens bigger than my first portable tele. To my right was a chap who could have been Dustin Martin’s big brother, down to the haircut and neck tatts. His behaviour was exemplary throughout.

I tried not to do too much rearward rubbernecking, but I was pretty certain that I was the only one bereft of appropriate club colours. My lack of barracking probably gave my interloper status away.

Beer and songs is what I remember most. And moods.

It didn’t take long for the first rendition of their ode to Dusty. I was both disgusted and amused by this, which harks back to the opening track of Side Two of Elvis Costello’s first album, (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes. An innocuous tweet by T2 about EC’s ouevre was the genesis of the online sensation Music Brownlow and I was also wearing my 2009 EC Tour t-shirt. Um, where was I again?

Oh yeah, here’s the Dusty song, to the tune of The Four Seasons “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (although I was brought upon the Engelbert Humperdinck version). I’m guessing that Bawdy Ballads was big with their parents in Bayswater in 1977.

OOHH Dustin Martin you are the love of my life
oh Dustin Martin, I’d let you shag my wife
oh Dustin Martin, I want neck tattoos too

At nine goals to one, the chants were flowing. As the Saints pegged a couple back, the language and the general stance turned slightly sour. “Blue maggots” was funny (once) but the predictable taunts directed at Nick Riewoldt were at least lacking in venom (and respect).

“F-ck Off St Kilda and your 40,000 members” was a frequent yell from someone behind me, the same one that thought it was OK to call one of the Saints a retard. I was on shaky moral ground here.

The third quarter mini comeback from St Kilda saw the Grog Squad faithful starting to turn on their own players, the same ones that they were lauding in the first half. Suddenly the MCG was populated with “useless pr*cks” on both sides.

All of this was forgotten when the Dustin Martin masterclass put the game beyond doubt early in the last quarter. Yep, I was wrong when I derided him in the off-season as a cheap kick across half back merchant. He was last year, but not this.

Gee Richmond are gonna miss him I thought.

As I was caught up in the final siren delirium, T1 and T2 went down to the fence to fanboi. I tried to extricate myself from the flailing arms and cups of pi55 to meet up with the Gourmet Pie-girl, hoping to make myself scarce.

I missed the Nick Riewoldt send-off, those around me couldn’t have cared less about him.

Thanks to T1 and T2, I may not have been able to “learn afl” as was suggested by a salty Melbourne follower the day before but I did at least “learn some richmond”.

The Grog Squad wasn’t my cup of Tetley Tea, but I’m not going to stew on it.


Vaughan Menlove’s 2015 experience with the Grog Squad was recorded here.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. T2 here outing myself. I thought the Vegemite flowed across the toast beautifully [if I can just kneel on the throat of your metaphor awhile]. I enjoyed your company and I am mortified that we abandoned you in a manner you’d have to call cursory after the siren. T1 mentioned going down to the… oh. he’s gone. I am genuinely a babe in the woods at the G and had further business to transact with T1 so I just felt I had to pelt after him.

    It’s a lovely surprise that you wrote up the Grog Squad experience. The calibre of sledging was so laughably poor, I am glad a talented scribe like yourself was there to document it.

    To quote one of our neighbours rearward; “Hey Membrey – yer a [email protected]!!”

  2. Stone Cold Steve Baker says

    What a sensational sounding afternoon gents.

    Personally, I’d be giving it back to that ‘salty’ Melbourne supporter in spades, with compounded interest. You know plenty ’bout footy Swish

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    As I now recall T2, I made a remark at some point about feeling like I’d been trapped in an Oscar Wilde convention. Any chance of flushing out T1?

    Bakes, the Eags did my work for me (as predicted) in that regard

  4. Gee, Swish. As soon as I read “from whence it came” in para 3 I knew this was going to be a ripper read.

  5. And it was

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Smoke, I went under cover so you didn’t have to.

    It’s an evocative phrase, isn’t it?

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Geez Swish, you did well to get out of there in one piece. Could you imagine the ferality if they actually got up and pinched the flag? The last thing the Grog Squad needs is a reason to be proud. Heaven help the rest of us. Enjoyable read, mate.

  8. I’ll be honest with you Swish, it was the best game I’ve seen Dusty play — and I’ve seen a few of them. We’re just taking it one week at a time around at Tigerland, but I’m seeing something I haven’t seen all year: straight goal shooting. And when you look at the Top Four, there’s only half a game between them. OK, throw in Sydney, and you’ve got a Top Five for the ages. Let The Finals begin.

  9. Swish, saddened to hear about the ‘retard’ taunt. I spent one game in the midst of the Grog Squad and that was enough for me. Enjoyed your anthropoligical notes (blonde tips, skinny jeans, etc), I am curious about the mob crowd behaviour in that group, the empowerment they have in their numbers and in their one-eyed allegiance. A sub-culture of the football. If anyone knows of any good critical analysis written about the Grog Squad would love to read it!

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Phil – it wasn’t actually that threatening or unenjoyable, but I won’t hurry back.

    Thats a big wrap Wrap.

    And no sign of baba ganoush either Dugald.

  11. 3rd ina brownlow getting cheap kicks across halfback? that must have been something.

  12. Dugald – I don’t know about “good critical analysis” but I can recount my memories of the Grog Squad from the Tigers’ hey day of the early 80s. Doesn’t sound like much has changed except that the mobile devices have replaced the ghetto blasters that used to blare out Acca Dacca and Chisel. And they weren’t so good on their own songs either back then. Perhaps it was because in those days of BYO Eskiies the Squad actually lived up to its name. I was told that entry level membership entailed consumption of 18 cans in a sitting. Needless to say, in the years of Richmonds decline after our last Premiership the antics of the Grog Squad were not pretty. I stopped watching our games from behind the goals around then. I suppose all you can say is that they’ve stood the test of time – like the rest of our remarkable supporter base.

  13. Like your report
    Grog squad building momentum,
    Goin’ ______ mental, increasingly each week!
    Havent sat down there for a while, liking it around in the wing, but have enjoyed the exiting serenades upon departure.

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Peter –

    Goals 2016 – 9, 2017 -32.
    Contested/Uncontested Poss 2016 – 277/401 2017 – 313/333

    Comparative heat maps show where he racked ’em up last year and this year.

    Not saying he’s no good, but he’s even more effective this year as well as more “contestive” – how it took the brains trust so long to let him off the leash is mystifying.

    Ta Stainless – I’m glad I got the New Age version

    Thanks Kate – I can’t imagine you there at all.

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