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Round 7 – Sydney v Geelong: A Beer for Macca

Round 7 – Sydney v Geelong: A Beer for Macca

by Joe Moore



He that buys land buys many stones,

He that buys flesh buys many bones,

He that buys eggs buys many shells,

But he that buys good ale buys nothing else.

John Ray


One could easily be mistaken, strolling through the breeze of an autumn night in Melbourne, that this Saturday will carry on without a care in the world. But the footy’s on, and we most certainly care about that. While we search for some warmth from the elements, we contemplate our options for honest ale, speculative discussion, and most importantly, a place to watch the game.


Neutral territory is called for, meaning my usual South Melbourne haunts are out of bounds, and we find ourselves at the Duke of Wellington, the iconic Melbourne pub once owned by former Swan, Brian Roberts. Nicknamed ‘The Whale’ and with physical attributes to match, he is thought to have been, at roughly 120kg, among the heaviest men ever to play league football. A commanding presence on (and off) the field, the hulking ruckman played 15 games for South Melbourne in 1975, and amazingly fell just three votes short of winning a most unlikely Brownlow Medal.


Ever since The Whale retired (prematurely) in 1976, he’s been known as one of Melbourne’s most colourful publicans. While we won’t be sharing ‘an ale with The Whale’ tonight, we do make ourselves comfortable in his former residence. The renovated décor of glossy bentwoods in black and yellow, buffed woods, scraped bricks and steel greys may not be to The Whale’s liking, the vibrant, casual vibe most certainly would be.


Tonight however, the footy is the focal point as Phil (my Cats-loving father-in-law) and I prepare for a battle royale. As Joe Louis explained: “Once that bell rings you’re on your own. It’s just you and the other guy.”


Ding, ding. It’s every man for himself.


Extra significance is attached to the match tonight, as Premiership Captain, Jarrad McVeigh plays his 250th match for our Swannies. The curls may be long gone, but the wondrous combination of sublime skill and dogged determination remain. Macca is a heart-and-soul Blood, cut distinctively from the same cloth as past club greats, such as Skilts, Kel and Kirky.


It’s time for a toast. Forget matching food with beer, I’ve decided to dedicate my beer selection to our fearless leader. The beverage I choose tonight will reflect the way that he plays his footy. It must be smooth yet robust, it must contain a head of clarity, and it must have a touch of bitterness with a lingering, complex and rewarding finish. As I proudly hoist my White Rabbit White Ale to the heavens, I take a fleeting moment to reflect on our skipper’s fine career. Here’s to you, Macca.


The whistle is blown and the ball is bounced. After self-consciously surveying the vicinity for witnesses of my slightly unusual display of devotion, I take my seat.

We discuss the potential headaches that our teams may provide for the opposition, and as a former New Norfolk backman, Phil knows his footy. From the outset, this game is tight in the clinches. Joey is once again leading the way in the middle, and his thirst for the contested continues to amaze. Lloydy caresses the Sherrin on his non-preferred and finds Parksy for our first. We’re away.


The first and second terms provide an enthralling contest between two heavyweight combatants. Back and forth, trading blows with the same regularity and intensity as Phil and I are trading barbs. Mitch Duncan’s playing well for The Enemy, but when Stevie J punches the ball that shouldn’t be punched, the Red and White army is none too impressed. Our captain’s been nutted and this means war!


Halftime, and it’s a close one. We ramble through the city streets, discussing our hypothetical half-time rev-ups and head to the more traditional Cricketer’s Bar around the corner at the Windsor. The women’s auxiliary joins us there, and the wives provide some much-needed impartiality. The Bloods are starting to take control in the third and Bud is looking buddy dangerous. Lukey Parker is immense. Both in the contest and in front of the big sticks. What a beauty. We keep the Cats to one goal for the term and lead at the final change.


As the wedges, sweet chilli and sour cream arrive, our Swannies are kicking into top gear. My father-in-law is beginning to sulk, and that can only mean that my team is on the march. Charging to the finishing line, the boys are looking the goods. A seven-goal-to-one final term sees us home by 43 points. The banter escalates, as does the poking, head-locking and dead-arming. The Cricketer’s may be wishing we stayed at the Whale’s old joint.


A scintillating game of footy, and cheered on in jest. A fitting performance for another Red and White warrior, chaired triumphantly in victory. What a sight. What a night.


The pubs of Melbourne are as much a part of the city’s urban landscape as the cobbled laneways that house them. These are home to the theological, the political, the scientific, the straightforward, the joyful, the backhanded compliment, the persuasive and the poetic. And, after a few jars, the not-quite-so poetic. The resurgence of the simple pub, with a recipe of great craft beer and hearty food, has restored the time-honoured, humble act of watching the footy at the pub. And so, with full bellies and (at least one) happy heart, we retire for the evening.


Here’s to you, Macca. A true Blood.





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. jan courtin says

    It was great being there Joe, especially the last quarter. More like the Swans we know!
    Enjoying your stories

  2. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Jan. A barnstorming finish! A joy to watch.

    Enjoying your Swans tales also.

  3. Nice work, Joe.

  4. Joe Moore says

    Cheers Smoke. Enjoyable match.

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