The Book of Heckles

It’s funny where and when you meet people from your distant amateur football past. Sitting behind the Bulldog supporters group at Manuka last night as GWS and Western Bulldogs met in their NAB Cup game seemed like an unlikely place to be reacquainted with the quixotic Wombats. Tony Robb has written of the team with their ’84 Premiership win over ANU in “Balls to ANU” but this recollection is more about the broader Wombat fraternity.

The Bulldogs cheer squad ran through their single cheer, a banal spelling routine “B.U.L.L.D.O.G.S” when GWS were kicking for goal. I overheard a comment from the row in front “You know the Bulldogs should have a better heckles than that, pathetic. At least at the Wombats we had the Book of Heckles”.

As the GWS midfielder kicked truly and registered a behind, I was taken back 30 or more years to the famed “Wombat Park” at Uni of Canberra. As the hapless coach of the Wombats 2nds I would waddle out with a team ready to face opposition teams of stronger and fitter players. In playing the early 12 noon games Wombat supporters would arrive midway through our game to see the ‘firsts’ play at 2.00pm. By the third quarter we would hear the odd heckle from the hill, wind and rain would lessen the volume but not weaken the impact. The Wombats supporters were few in numbers but they had the “Book of Heckles” and usually a cask of Sunnyvale Fruity Lexia wine.

I tapped on the shoulder of my mate’s new partner in the row in front “Did you say Wombats? Book of Heckles? I used to play Wombats in the 80’s”. “Yes” she said, quickly surveying my 100kg frame. I was disappointingly unfamiliar in her recollection. We chatted for a while jointly remembering a few of the players and drifted back to the modern game.

Do you reckon you would have a copy of the Book of Heckles” I later asked. “Maybe” Jackie replied.

On the bus from the game I thought “Who wrote the book of Heckles”, “Who would have a copy”, but more importantly why can’t I remember any of the heckles!

Like trying to grasp smoke, I am now on a quest for the “Book of Heckles”. I sent a text messages to a few old “Bats”. Immediately Tulls came back “Obes”. Surely it was “Obes”.

But then second text arrived “Was there such a thing…” came back from Matty Mac.

Now I’m unsure, was there ever a “Book of Heckles”?

I am trying the antisocial FB as well. Gubba might know, maybe Wrongway. I will try Meauty – he would know, I will ring Fats he would definitely have a copy.


About David Mitchell

Wombats AFL - Uni Canberra. St Kilda Supporter and Member


  1. Mitch, I’ve looked far and wide (not describing your 100kg stature), but have been unable to locate the famed “Book of Heckles”.
    Indeed, “heckle” is a word that hasn’t crossed my mind since I last watched “Heckle and Jeckle”.
    I guess it’s now referred to as a “sledge”.
    Speaking of your stint coaching the famed Wombats seconds, what was you win-loss record?
    I know that blokes saw being dropped from the firsts to the seconds as a “promotion” when you were at the helm.
    Did your coaching stint coincide with that of the great Tony Robb (the last Wombats premiership coach)?
    And how will the Saints go in 2016?

  2. G’Day Mitch
    You’ve obviously trimmed up a bit. I’m not aware of the origins or present whereabouts of the Book of Heckles. Surely such a literary pearl in safely stored in the National Archives or National Library or in a box in some one’s garage along with old Stone day T shirts. Should it be located I am sure that many heckles would be dedicated to the RMC boys as they were pretty easy targets. Not so the Harmen boys as there wives were too scary. Hope you are well

  3. Ah Fats, you will always be ‘Jeckle’ to my ‘Heckle’. Modesty precludes any disclosure of the win-loss ratio. I will of course refer to your excellent history of the MAFL to reinvent at least a few wins during my stint as second’s coach. As for the mighty Saints, I recon we will make the top 16 this year. Tony was there when I was at the seconds, I should have paid more attention to his footy acumen and wisdom. He does accurately recall the Harmen Hogs women supporters, they were indeed far more feared than the players. Most of their heckles were more instructional such as “tackle him, bloody tackle him, kill him!”. Cheers, beers, Mitch

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