The Almanackers: B is for the Brothers Branagan


There’s no shortage of Bs on the Almanac list. I could have chosen Josh Barnstable who started writing from up Waaia way in Grade 9 and is now in second year uni studying journalism,  or poet and Pies fan Damian Balassone, or muso Dacvid Bridie, or IT Sandgroper surfer Neil Belford, or Kate Birrell with her beaut word-and-picture representations of everyday (sporting) life, or that Ballarat boy who exposes the hollowness John Butler, or American Glenn Brownstein who discovered the Saints from his Louisville Kentucky sports reporter’s desk, or umpire-historian-bookmaker-writer Muz Bird who cost Diesel Williams the Brownlow, or film-maker Trev Blainey,  or AIS biomechanist and Tigers fan John Baker, or Miles Franklin short-listed novelist Tony Birch, or John Burke who is the personification of the Geelong football fan, or Rob Bath who has written for stage and screen, or Almanac stalwart Peter Baulderstone who can remember what colour the Ipana cap was in 1957, or Tom Bally who loves Almanac parties so much he charters flights down from Sydney, or Dave Bruce who used to be Grant Dodd’s caddy, or Stone Cold Baker himself.

But I’ll go with the Brothers Branagan because that makes me feel like Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Mark and PJ (Paul) Branagan are colourful Almanac identities.

Mark is a mad Swan – indeed he is on the Swans Hall of Fame historical committee. He wrote a book called Bloodstained Angels about 1933 and has another one forthcoming (on North and footy generally in the 1970s – I’ve read the raw material and it is excellent). He is very good at lunching, although the demands of legal practice do get in the way occasionally. He has the staying gene. He has been a magnificent supporter of the Almanac concept as contributor, distributor (he always off-loads many copies) and encourager.

His brother PJ, Pie, and celebrated amateur football coach, was admitted to the bar in about 1987 – and has never left. That would be the front bar. PJ has eschewed all forms of responsibility, abandoning professional life to become a publican so he and his charges from the 1978 Wattle Park have a place to gather to re-live the victory. In particular he enjoys the company of Big Kev and other semi-reliable hacks who can’t remember what time their next appointment is but can remember where the shout is and can give you chapter and verse on the stats of the second quarter of an ammos match against North Old Boys in 1982. When PJ had the Sporting Club Hotel in Brunswick he hosted some memorable Almanac lunches. These days he pours the beers at the ? Hotel in Kyneton, known for its heritage-listed porcelain pissoir.


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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. Jimmy Dodd, the Big Mousekeeter on the Mickey Mouse Club show, not only narrated commercials for Ipana toothpaste, but his sped-up voice was used for the character of Bucky Beaver singing Brusha Brusha Brusha. Use the new Ipana. There was a promotion where users of Ipana toothpaste could send in for photos from the Mickey Mouse Club.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    “… Now with MFP…”- which reminds me of another Mickey Mouse initiative that was going to save SA in the 90s

    I think it was the fluoridation of the Adelaide water supply that brought about the demise of Bucky’s nemesis, Danny Decay

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