The ’76 Peter Moore

by James Gilchrist

This is an extract taken from the unpublished manuscript “Tragic – The Diary of a Magpie Fan” it won second prize in the Sminkworks Short Story Competition in 2007.

Some of the pitfalls I faced growing up included being short, freckle faced and red haired, having to wear light blue cotton skivvies and navy corduroy pants to school, being stalked, maimed, gouged and almost drowned in the baby pool by my older brother Thug and at a time when hair was wild and free, being given horrifyingly respectable Ritchie Cunningham do’s by my personal hairdresser, Mum. All of this resulted in the kind of low self-esteem that demanded a hero.

For me, in 1977, he, I, was Collingwood star Peter Moore.

In ’77 the rookie Peter Moore was tall, blonde, brilliant and kicked stacks of goals at full forward for the newly glamorous Pies of Tom Hafey. He became my hero in the most complete way. Quite simply, I wanted to be him, because that way, I was no longer just an insignificant face, watching  sultry Grade 5 girls performing imaginary ABBA concerts in the sandpit, sighing hopelessly each time an untouchable Agnetha turned to face me.

Peter Moore was my escape into another, better world. One where I was noticed by girls, respected by boys and took the occasional specky. And so, through the following activities, I became him:

1)    Solo backyard footy, wearing a complete K-Mart Collingwood outfit with a hand sewn number 30 – made from old singlets,  taking the proverbial last second grab on the siren, before kicking the winning goal with a thwack into the cubby house

2)    Drawing pictures of Peter ‘Perfect’ in black texta taking pack marks over Dick Dastardly who in his evilness had assumed the form of Sam Newman or Don Scott

3)    My sacred and unyielding quest for the Holy Grail of footy cards, the Scanlen’s ’76 Peter Moore

At home, footy cards were included on an extremely detailed list of contraband items that included skate boards, yo-yo’s, KISS Records, fireworks, cigarette lighters, industrial strength water pistols and lolly cigars. Mum forbade them because the chewing gum they contained was, in her eyes, as potentially damaging as a crack habit and she would present us with sobering tales from her Nursing days, of all the throat clogging, stomach pumping reality that befell young boys when chewing gum went wrong. Footy cards were the forbidden fruit of my youth, tantalising, mysterious and totally out of bounds, so naturally I had thousands of them, gathered from the forgotten nooks and corners of the schoolyard and the stolen moments at Milk Bar counters with a desperately scrounged fifteen cents.

Along with giving my life a purposeful quest, footy cards introduced me to the glorious culture of ’70s Australia. A time when hair was long, moustaches were bold and sideburns were lusty. Shorts were also very short (and had strips called ‘piping’). Some of the more brilliant exponents of the moustache or sideburns included Leigh Matthews, David Dench, Ross Glendenning and the aptly named Wayne Schimmelbusch. These would later evolve into triumphs of follicular extravagance such as the radiant Vin Cattogio afro, the rat-like waftiness of the Ronnie Wearmouth and, of course, who could forget the man who combined everything ’70s into a flowing symphony of unkempt tidiness – ‘The Flying Doormat’ Bruce Doull. As if to underscore the growing virility at Carlton in those days, Alex Marcou even had hair on his shoulders, a spectacular sight for seven-year-old for whom puberty was a long way off.

I was also to learn that people could have names of more than two syllables and for the first time entered the strange and exotic world of Jezualenko, Duparuzel, Polkinghorne, Dipierdomenico, Serafini and Sidebottom; as well as the beautiful simplicity of Gott, Icke, Eade and Klomp. All this helped promote tolerance in multicultural Melbourne. But in the end, it was not exotica or social harmony that I craved but the personification of that one card.

I almost had the ’76 Peter Moore in the spring of ‘78 during a family gathering when my Bomber loving cousin, offered it to me for free. Flat, flawless and in virtual mint condition, you could smell the gum on it. Little did he know that this ‘spare’ of his was to me worth Stretch Armstrong, Han Solo, a special edition Micky Mouse Clock, the Six Million Dollar Man and maybe even a limb or two. Fortunately, my cousin’s Bomber induced ignorance, made none of these necessary, so I accepted gracefully, trying not to hyperventilate. For that split second my life was complete. Then like a scene from Jaws, Thug, sensing vibrations of happiness in the water, cut an arc through schools of unwitting relatives, jutting teeth, beady eyes and dorsal fin locking on to a target he was all too familiar with, closing at cruising speed to investigate what I had. Sensing danger, I shielded the prize, refusing to let him see it, touch it, think about it or breathe on it. This protective impulse to the looming carnivore was like the smell of blood in the water.

Thug had never been one to take no for an answer and his problem-solving strategy was always force. The resultant melee would see umpire ‘Dad’ switching his attention from the garden to hosing us down like rabid dogs as we emerged, dripping wet before an amused clutch of relatives, clutching in our hands the torn and soaked remnants of my dream. It would take me a week to bring myself to speak to Thug but in thirty years I would never see the prized Collingwood number 30 again.

Across the years I have forgotten what he looks like, so he has assumed mythical proportions in my mind. In some images he is drop-punting intently to camera, in others marking stoutly overhead with his best side to the lens or else poised to execute a text book handball. I know that he is out there somewhere, in a suburban garage sale, on e-bay or perhaps buried beneath the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre. I know that one day we will meet again.

About james gilchrist

James Gilchrist is another Collingwood tragic who enjoys reading, writing, music, travel and teaching. A father of three, he teaches at Genazzano College, writes for the Footy Almanac and waits ever patiently for that next elusive Magpie Premiership.


  1. I saw Peter Moore on a tram recently. Been in a fairly good paddock but looked in reasonable condition. VERY big man. He reminds me a bit of the father from the kids animation movie “The Incredibles”.

  2. At about the time that you are referring to James, Peter Moore was on our list for family BBQs, and I saw a fair bit of him. One day is etched in my memory. He was up for a bit of kick-to-kick in our backyard – Dad up one end, me and Pete up the other. As a young bloke of about 12 or 13, and being taller than most other kids of my age, I fancied myself to provide a good contest. Perhaps even fluke a great grab that I could tell the other kids at school about. That day I learned about the perils of “playing in front”. Dad popped one up over my head, and the big blonde bloke put his knee squarely in my back. A very clean pair of hands. And there was a young Arma (prior to acquiring the nickname) lying prostrate on the turf, spitting out the grass, and trying my hardest not to cry. Not that I blame him for ruining what could have been a terrific footy career, but I never played in front again.

    That is all

  3. Thanks for the comments fellas. Arma I think you did well to even offer a contest. At that stage I wouldn’t have come up to one of Peter Moore’s socks. With the fickleness of youth my interest eventually shifted to Braham, Picken and then eventually Daicos – a long term infatuation. But I’d still love to meet Peter Moore one day (even though footy players probably get sick of nostalgic fans) My younger brother did eventually present me with the holy grail a few years ago, acquired on ebay. Blokes can be really thoughtful when it comes to footy! All the best.

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