The Almanackers: A is for Anderson

Neil Anderson and Stuart Hall 58 years later

Neil Anderson (left) with his old mate Stuart Hall.

I met Neil Anderson a couple of years ago in Mortlake. I was on a library tour of the Western District. It was one of these frosty mornings where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun streamed in through the glass front of the homely library.

Neil came with his wife Sharyn and the third attendee was Kelvin Goodall with whom, by coincidence, I’d had many a beer at the North Fitzroy Arms in the years before. Kelvin had retired to Mortlake. That was a pleasant surprise.

We had a delightful chat about books and writing. Neil’s wife Sharyn was a teacher and was thinking of doing a PhD in Australian literature (she is part way through now, a comparative study of Australian poets). Neil, who had been a public servant, was trying his hand writing one act plays.

Over a cuppa I suggested Neil might like to write for the Almanac, and that he might also like to mention some of his plays and when they were being performed.

So he did. His first story ‘Keeping the Faith’ was an absolute cracker.

“In the beginning was the word and word was that twelve tribes  contested games in the mighty metropolis of Melbourne. One such tribe was from the village of Footscray,” he wrote.

He was actually at the 1954 Grand Final as a seven year old and celebrated that night with his family at the All Saints Fancy Dress Ball in Footscray.

Neil became a regular contributor and commenter. His memoir is always well-read and leads to a conversation.

In 2013 he won the National Playwright’s competition; his winning play ‘Grumpy Old Moths’ was performed in Melbourne.

Over the past couple of years Neil has managed to find an old mate, Stuart Hall, whom he hadn’t seen for 58 years. They had been at Footscray North Primary School. Both remain very keen Doggies supporters and hope to get to a few matches together in 2015.

So we’re set to enjoy more footy yarns from Neil, laced with lots of memories.

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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Emma Westwood says

    When I think Mortlake, I think Clarke’s Pies. I wonder if Neil read PB’s article on Foody Almanac and if he’s a pastie or pie man?

  2. Neil Anderson says

    Yes I did read PB’S article on pies versus pasties. I made a passing reference to the choice in the article about ‘ Future Shock- From Colonial Stadium to Etihad’ about the predicted price of such pastries at the new venue in 2000.
    Clarke’s Pies are still going strong and it’s like the boy in the lolly shop when you try and choose. Unfortunately it’s becomes a guilty pleasure for someone like me that has to watch his cholesterol.

  3. G’day Neil,

    It’s interesting that many Almanackers have diffrent back ground. Congratulations on winning the National Playwright’s competition.

    How many Doggies games are you planning to watch this year at the stadium? Looking foeard to reading your Doggies match reports.

    I wish you all the best and Sharyn’s Ph. D course is going well.


  4. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks Yoshi,
    I’m looking forward to reading the bios of other Almanackers as well.
    Winning the National Playwright Competition in 2013 was very special to me after ten years of writing plays. I had three second places and one third place in that time as well as a first and second place in separate Queensland competitions. I am waiting on the results for a play I have submitted this year to a competition in Toowoomba Queensland. The best part is seeing your work performed on stage if you are one of the place-getters.
    In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing the Doggies play. I will try and get to a few matches with my friend Stuart otherwise I’ll enjoy seeing the boys on TV here in the country.
    Sharyn is in the early stages of her Ph.D. Sharyn unfortunately is not interested in football but is very supportive of my Almanac writing, particularly after meeting John Harms nearly three years ago.

  5. Good on ya Neil. You’re one of the good ones. Hope to run into at a dogs match this year … and you won’t have too much trouble spotting me: I’ll be the one ranting the loudest when Tom Boyd goes kickless at the half time break (though I’ll be happy to wear egg if he proves me wrong.)

  6. Neil Anderson says

    Thanks T-Bone ( No wonder George Costanza was upset about not having dibs on the nick- name T-Bone…you beat him to it! )
    I would have thought all Almanackers were good ones, but perhaps you were referring to me being a Doggies fan.
    Re Tom Boyd, being officially a cynical, grumpy old man who has seen less ups than downs with the Scrays,, I’m not expecting too much too soon. The president, coach and captain keep telling the faithful that he will be good …in the future. Right now I will be happy to see someone tall in the forward-fifty that they can kick it to. A big step-up from kicking the ball long and high with only Dahlhaus there to mark it.
    It would be good to catch up at the footy some time.

  7. Neil, yes, all good uns here, and being a dog fan makes you a standout

    On my T-Bone handle, yeah that’s where I got it from. Sean Curtain, of all people, was the first to respect my wishes to be called T-Bone. That was in 1999 at an engineering firm called Fleur Daniel. Kind of died off after that until Sean kick started it again here at the Nac. Love having it back, and love Jerry’s line “T-Bone, the ladies are gonna love ya.” (and picture George gorging on a sanga as Jerry says it … and half the sanga spilling out of his mouth as he chews.)

    If Boyd was on something commensurate to a player of great potential, no one would, of course, have a beef. But he’s on outrageous dough and they’ll be some restless fans if he doesn”t at the very least impress in this first season. I mean, I can’t get my head around how we can give that sort of money to an unproven kid? Sure he’s a number 1 pick, but the science isn’t so good that a number one pick is a guaranteed 200 game player. All clubs have got better with these picks but even today they get it wrong and some very high picks don’t even go on to play 20 games. Heaven help us if Boyd is one of them.

    Anyway, I’ll be sure to look out for you at one of the games this year.

  8. Neil Anderson says

    I did wonder as I mentioned George and the T-Bone monicker that you might have wondered what the hell I was talking about. I needn’t have worried. You’re obviously a Seinfeld fan being able to quote the lines. They ended up calling George ‘ Coco’ I seem to remember. The ultimate compliment is to get your lines quoted back to you after watching a performance of a play or script you have written.
    The Tom Boyd scenario is an interesting one. At this stage I’m glad they went for him. We need a symbol of hope and a tall full-forward who was number one pick fits the bill. If they had chased a midfielder for say half the cost,, it wouldn’t give us the same hope and wow factor.
    I’m more interested in seeing the other draft picks firstly and then assess Tom Boyd later in the year.
    Nice talking to you.

  9. Yeah Coco it was. Coco the monkey … and then George than wrangles to get Krueger Industrial to hire a cleaning lady named Coco, so he can shake it off.

    On Boyd, yes he is a magnificent get for the club. Love the idea that we have a potential power forward. But Jesus, couldn’t they have been more savvy in the negotiations? Reckon their emotions ran wild on this one and to a degree you can understand why seeing that we lost out captain and coach in the days before and we needed an injection of something positive. But just wished they’d have driven a harder bargain, coz it’s come out looking a big big risk.

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