The 2020 Backroads Cup – Round 20

Greetings Tipsters


Deep night, moonlit highway, he shoved the throttle, the speedometer swept past 100 miles per hour. Soft hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 o’clock. The back wheels hopped about a bit. As good as this old car looked, it had a live rear axle. Very bloody live, right now.


Sitting in it was fantastic. Narrow dash, thin vinyl, three-spoke steering wheel, a long curved shifter. Quarter windows. No damn centre console.


The roadside posts flashed by, red reflectors glinting in the high beams. The road was flat and gently curved, 110mph was a good cruising speed. He was a good driver. Footballer reflexes. Hours of driver/rider training. Many a race, and a crushing win in the celebrity amateurs series. Phillip Island was fun but back-country roads were better.


Football had been good for him. Lucrative career that still paid off. Open a supermarket, flirt with divorced mums. Endorsed vitamins. Talk for an hour at club functions. Try to avoid having to tell again the tale of shaving his head at halftime at the MCG. Sixteen kicks and three goals in the second half, lost by two points. Drove home in the BMW M5. Before that, he had a Ferrari 308. Unreliable and too damn small, absolute prick of a thing to get into when you’d wrenched your knee.


Then a few things like Audi SUVs, a blur of dull capability and sweeping acres of grey and silver plastic. He bought a ‘64 Lotus Cortina, loose, noisy, fun.


He didn’t want a spaceship of vinyl and plastic and blinking lights wrapping him in a cocoon of insulation. He wanted a car. With a carburettor, a V8, stretching room and wind buffeting the windscreen. Got this one 90% original, the wheels, brakes, diff center, driver’s seat, centre console and a few more old pieces were stored at the the workshop that looked after his cars, replaced for the sake of comfort and efficiency. You can love old cars but you don’t have to be an idiot about it. Put 5000 songs on a flashdrive in the stereo and hit random play. ‘You Stole My Love’ segued beautifully into ‘Kicks.’ He sang along and played finger drums on the leather-wrapped wheel. The song faded out and he flicked over to AM radio and caught the football scores on a local station.


“And now, to recap this weekend in Round Twenty of the Australian Football League. Thanks to our sponsors, McCarthy’s Meats and the Railway Hotel. Friday night. Richmond, eighteen goals thirteen, one hundred and twenty one, Adelaide, seven goals six, forty eight. Adelaide Oval.”


“Saturday. Essendon 13.13.91, Collingwood 12.9.81, MCG. GWS 12.14.86, Brisbane 13.4.82, Manuka Oval. Footscray 14.11.95, Geelong 11.9.75, Kardinia Park. That’s a bit of a surprise there. Remember, Hanley’s Agricultural Supplies carry the most comprehensive stock of bulk fertilisers in the shire. St Kilda 17.15.117, Hawthorn 6.10.46, at the marvel of marvels. West Coast 16.9.105, Port Adelaide 11.4.70, Perth stadium.”


“Sunday, Carlton 15.7.97, North Melbourne 10.9.69. Maaarvel Stadium. Sydney, 12.15.87, Melbourne 7.4.46, MCG. And Gold Coast 16.6.102, Fremantle 10.12.72 at Carrara. Be sure to catch our expert analysis in the morning and ring in to have your say. Jeff White, former Melbourne ruckman, will be here with Frank Barbieri from ten AM. We’re expecting a clear warm day tomorrow, the sun will rise around quarter past seven, just over six hours away. Now, here’s R.B. Greaves and ‘Take A Letter, Maria.’”


Cheerz Tipzterz


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Photo by Earl O’Neill


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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Brilliant Earl. Shaving heads at halftime at the MCG. So many great stories in here. And then to close with the song featuring this lyric- “You’ve been many things but most of all a good secretary to me.”

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Funny, it was only last week that I chased up RB Greaves myself. Must’ve heard it fifty years ago, but only ever took in the chorus. But the Adelaide score was obviously fictional. Way too high.

  3. You were worried about losing your imagination and creativity Earl. Personally I think they’re better on one tab rather than two. Keeps some tenuous link to reality for the reader.
    The footy scores summary at the end reminded me of this:

  4. Earl O'Neill says

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