Short Sentence for Collingwood Supporter


‘Carlton… Essendon,’ said the big fella – he doesn’t talk in sentences yet after a big brain bleed left him with aphasia twelve months ago.

‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘Probably go, depends on the weather.’

‘Carlton… Essendon,’ he repeated, ‘you, me.’

I suddenly twigged. He was offering to take me. Big gesture for a Collingwood supporter but the long-awaited M.C.C. membership which arrived a while ago gives free entry to him and his companion – read ‘wheelchair pusher.’ It’s been a real boon that little medallion. He can’t walk far, won’t work for a while, can’t add his acerbic wit to conversations so readily but he can trundle into the ‘G’ to watch the Magpies beat up on the opposition – and thoroughly enjoy it.


Now he was condescending to watch the contenders, Carlton, against the pretenders, Essendon, convinced that neither can thrash the rampant ‘Black and White’ in September this year at least. Perhaps he was thanking me for running him to his various therapies – physio, occupational, hydro – or even nipping down the corner to pick up his strong latte with one sugar. Either way, I was up for it. Alli texted: ‘Are you coming to the footy Saturday?’ ‘Sorry, mate,’ I replied, ‘I’ll be sitting in the Members’ with the big guy!’


I rang one of his mates, a Collingwood supporter who’s accompanied him several times this season already.

‘Get there early,’ she said, ‘though there won’t be 90,000 like a ‘Pies game,’ she said, just a hint smugly I thought. ‘Jeans and no tie are OK these days as long as you’re not going into the inner sanctums.’ Sounded a bit Masonic to me; I put on jacket and tie, just in case.


If you want to see the better side of human nature, push a guy in a wheelchair. I’ve never known such solicitude. ‘Yes, sir,’ No, sir,’ ‘I’ll just run over and find out for you;’ helpfulness in abundance. We found a great spot for a chair and companion leaving time for a snack in the dining room; decent food…on a plate…with metal cutlery! Eating with people boasting full dentures and no tatts. All so genteel. ‘No, no, after you,’ and ‘I’m almost certain, ‘By your leave, kind sir.’


What a start; I could get used to it. A pre-match piddle for slow-moving, unsteady bloke on a stick was a bit hazardous till a Moses in a crisp suit and a manner to match, parted the waves. ‘Stand back there, please – make way – big guy coming through.’ We returned to our seats in comfort as the ball was bounced. ‘No Fletcher,’ I noted, ‘you beauty!’


The Blues and the Bombers played two-up for the first half; we’d go two up and they’d peg it back. ‘They’ll sneak a win they don’t deserve if we can’t break clear soon,’ I thought and seven points up at half-time wasn’t enough. The black fleet was kicking goals, fleet in both senses of the word, Juddy was all over it but the Jamieson-less defence was leaking like Assange in his heyday. ‘Betfair’ it said on the big screen. Betts fair? He was bloody marvelous nudging his opponent out to run into an open goal. The big guy rolled his eyes.

‘What? You reckon that was in the back?’

‘Could have been,’ he gestured – but what would an unbiased spectator know?


We enjoyed the civilized half-time coffee but only a tenth as much as I enjoyed the 3rd quarter when the Blues put together their best football for years – a Midas period when everything they touched turned to footy gold. Judd, already running a ground level masterclass – how can he pick up the ball so cleanly and fire off the handball when held by three opponents? – took two overhead marks; that was promising. Lachie Henderson baulked an opponent, took a one-two handpass and cleared on the run; that was remarkable. Big-bodied Kreuzer marked three in a row and kicked two; that was wonderful and Eddie’s fifth goal was magic. He crumbed at the behind post, feinted forward, grounded the ball, back-pedalled two paces, eased sideways past three defenders, who couldn’t lay a finger on him, and kicked the goal of the year.


Then they all started doing it – Walker, Murphy, Yarran – slipping the leash, ducking, weaving, gliding past and kicking straight, even Denis Armfield with his lounge lizard moustache.


Third quarter: Blues 8 goals, Bombers 1pt; demolition accomplished, game over but not yet quite complete. There was still Walker’s mark with nothing pedestrian about it. He clamped his knees around an unfortunate Essendon head and soared up over the rainbow. What a climax to a great night.


‘Thanks for that,’ I said to the big guy as we trundled the wheelchair back to the car.

‘Bet that makes you a bit nervous about the Blues come finals time.’

He laughed. ‘Carlton good – one quarter, Collingwood good – four quarters!’ he said, smart-mouthed and cocky as ever.




  1. Sandra Mort says

    Brilliant stuff dear Merv.
    Love the Assange reference and Betts fair.
    How do I put this link on my websites so more people can read it?
    love sm xx

  2. Stuart Pendred says

    Great piece, Merv. As a Pommie who knows the protagonists involved, the venue and the game it was perfect in bringing the event to life. Your easy, witty and intelligent writing style beautifully tells a story on so many human levels… Bravo!

  3. John Collinson says

    Merv, seems to be more than a game now. Great work – you know what I think. Being you must be fun.

  4. God Bless the Big Guy and thanks for letting us in on the personal experience – Go Pies.

  5. Brad Watson says

    Thanks for the story Merv, and thanks for the link Sandra. Would have been a great day for you and your writing brings it alive even more. BTW – It was in the back (read, sore Essendon supporter commentary).

  6. Joe Santamaria says

    By driving in all the nails around the lid of the coffin – taking all 4 quarters – there’s no way out for the magpies.When the game ends they’ll all be dead. Win it all in one (or 2) quarters and live to boast for the rest of a long life. I’m still living 40 years after 1970. Anonymous

Leave a Comment