The Coodabeen Champions – Kicking Against The Wind on Grand Final Day

Before the Bounce

Look, if someone had given me a free ticket, I wouldn’t have said no, but with the only Crows interest being in the “we may not be Uber but we need to fight hard to maintain the value of our ridiculously overpriced taxi plates, anyway here’s an easy number to remember, what’s that, everyone uses an app these days” Sprint, my view of the Grand Final was always going to be from the loungeroom of the Swishdome.

But with the Pie-Girl rostered on for coffee cart duty (gee she’s versatile, isn’t she) on the big day, I thought that I’d wander in with her to remind myself of what Grand Final day at the MCG is all about, given that our team would be there next year.

What I really wanted to do was grab a possie for the Coodabeens broadcast outside Gate 2. About 30 minutes before the 10am kickoff, only Richo and Champs were there, understandable as they both needed to prepare to #playtheirrole of host/linkman and musical director respectively.




I introduced myself to Champs and we had a friendly chat about nothing in particular. I was mildly disappointed that he didn’t bring up my Sonny Morey t-shirt (thanks @4boat), belying his Redleg roots. You can take the boy out of Hectorville, but you can’t make him go to an away game at Elizabeth, as Guru Bob may have once said.

At around 9:50, I noticed a scrabble of people of a certain age and hair colour, setting themselves up at a respectable distance from the red ABC tent, which was a rough and ready assemblage of public service faux canvas, electrical cables, card tables and gaffer tape.

Fighting a losing battle against the elements were the ABC roadies, who had more of a crack than the visiting team did a few hours later. In fact we saw a bit more crack than was really necessary when one of them tried to batten down some of the tenticular hatches.

This was the first Coodabeens o/b that I’d attended since the 2004 G/F. I set up behind the ladies who had brought along deck chairs and umbrellas, they seemed to know what they were doing. A handful of minutes before news time, I overheard Coodas producer, “Young Andy” Bellairs trying to round up the remaining talent, the hardest working smartphone in Jolimont pressed to his ear.

Covey appeared, followed by Billy, then Torch swanned in. Five fellas, members of a team in its 35th season, were ready to go once more.

After the 10am news, Young Andy counted in Richo, who kicked off the show in his calm, unruffled fashion; looking on was a crowd of maybe 150. I had expected them to be roughly my vintage, but by my reckoning, I was one of the younger set.

As yet another aside, I was delighted a few years back when the ABC had Richo doing the summer holiday radio breakfast slot. He did a great job, not sure why he didn’t continue.

The wind really played havoc with the broadcast quality, keeping the techs alert but also frustrated. You could see that they wanted to the show to go off without a hitch, but there wasn’t much that they could do about it.

Soon after Stephen Gough’s annual visit to the Coodabeens, Covey made Billy go through with his promise to wear a “man-bun” if the Hawks made the GF.

Lou Richards never had this problem

Lou Richards never had this problem

Greg played his best songs of 2015 to an appreciative audience, as well as a few classics. The obligatory “Bar Codes Up” had us all roaring, despite, or maybe because of, its familiarity.

Covey’s effortless patter and banter with the guests and the onlookers was a marvel to observe and Billy was in charge of the coveted Norm Smith Medal sweep.

Torch, was, well Torch, throughout. His straight bat played to the “talkback” callers is worth the price of admission alone.

Andy, the sixth Coodabeen, took photos, logged tweets while he also wrangled guests such as Russell Greene, Ash Hansen and his good mate Nigel of North Fitzroy. In footy parlance, he was in and under, not shying away from the hard ball gets.

Richo, Covey, Billy, Torch, Young Andy, Champs "Bar Codes Up"

Richo, Covey, Billy, Torch, Young Andy, Champs
“Bar Codes Up”

Technical hitches meant that Sam the Sub’s and Pearl’s work didn’t make it to air, but it we in the crowd could hear it. The frustration was really kicking in, but the team held it together.

After a final Guru Bob-ism or two, there was time for a lusty (and gusty) chorus of “The Thing About Football” before the 12noon pips.

The Thing About Football

The Thing About Football

But really, if you didn’t hear this the first time around, track down the podcast here

As the crowd dispersed, I went over to Andy and Ian to introduce myself and thank them for giving us another season of fun, frolic and yes, comfort, before making my way home against the incoming tide.

A Personal Reflection

If you need a chapter and verse rundown of the Coodabeens history, this ain’t the place.

Snippets of their work made it past Kaniva in the 80s, so I was familiar with them, but I don’t remember listening to them every week or whether this was even possible back then in the land of the (08) STD prefix.

But they were emblematic of the degree that footy had permeated Victorian culture. Footy in SA was largely humourless in comparison, the 1983 Magarey Medal count notwithstanding. The SANFL may have had Thomas Edmonds, Jackie Love or the Pal Superdogs for big game entertainment, but the Coodabeens were there at the MCG on the last Saturday of September 1987.

Once we moved to Melbourne, in the dying days of the G Cornes years, the Coodas became a more regular part of my aural background.

When they moved back to the ABC and my personal fave Billy Baxter took on a more prominent role, I listened even more avidly.

The Sunday and Saturday night shows in the off-season, hosted and musically curated by Billy are sorely missed by me. These shows introduced us to new local acts, revisited and reflected our entertainment heritage. Who would have thought that there was so much enjoyment to be had from an interview with Rod Mullinar, Colleen Hewitt or Toni Lamond?

The weekly Magic Moments segment, where the old mates spout forth on the day-to-day happenings that elevate the seemingly mundane into the noteworthy was another treat. Their outro music, Bowie’s Speed of Life, just perfect.

The introduction of “the podcask” allowed me, and the world, to listen to their shows when it suited. My interest went to a new level around this time. I would hang out until the early days of the following week waiting for the files to go up, so that I could fill in the bits that I had missed. I resisted the temptation to skip through the latest Scott Watkins-Sully recipe and there was always a lone catamaran sailor calling in from Magnetic Island or a UFO spotting punter in the summer months.

Billy had impeccable taste in music and I enjoyed immensely the tales from his days in the Oz TV and film industry.

I spent a few months working in the backblocks of Adelaide’s northern suburbs (is that a tautology) in 2012, and my weekly doses of their Footy and Saturday night show podcasts kept homesickness at bay.

The Saturday Soiree – “bring it back”.

In footy season if I’d missed them the first time around, I’d retrospectively check Torchy’s tips to see how his FootyQuad went, even if the numbers were invariably 1,2,9/1,2,9/1,9/1,2

One year I dabbled in the novelty song department, emailing Champs a few witty ditties that made it to air and quite a few of the non-witty variety that didn’t. It was hard work, so I gave it away and took up the challenge of their weekly Twitter question, which seemed to suit my smartarse style. The frisson of driving into the local shopping centre carpark, hoping to hear your tweet read out has made me realise what a sad life I really have what a sad, sad life I really have. (And don’t get me started on Facebook).

I recently came across four cassettes from the Coodabeen’s 80s oeuvre while opp shop foraging. I fired up the boombox – the only way to listen to them.

What Next for The Coodabeens?

I have seen that members of the younger demographic, some of whom may live under the same roof as me, think of them as well past their prime, trotting out the same tropes every year since 1981.

How many times can Eve of Destruction, The Lido Shuffle or Wichita Lineman be re-purposed according to the weekly happenings in the AFL?

How many different ways can Wayne from Wantirna tempt Torch with ill-gotten goods, Pearl from the Peninsula phone in with her mangled understanding of an earlier conversation or Stan from Stradbroke Island stumble over the word ‘statistician’?

How many country football/netball clubs are left that haven’t hosted the Coodabeens? Is there a permanent booking in Cora Lynn each June?

How many more ex VFL/AFL players are there, that played their first game in a final?

I don’t know, but I hope the Coodabeens continue long enough for me to find out.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Steve Hodder says

    judging by the photo, I’m a tad younger than you but about 1981 I was listening to the Coodabeens on 3RRR. Back in those RRR’s glory days a Sat morn went something like this –

    9.00 a.m. Coodabeens
    10.00 a.m. Punter to punter
    11.00 a.m. Lawyers guns and money
    I followed the Coodabeens to the ABC, to 3AW and then back to the ABC again. I even listened to their Sat eve program on Radio Aust when living in the dark narrow north of Japan. They’ve my influenced my way of thinking about footy, Melb Town and stuff in general a lot. I couldn’t visualise a footy season without them.


  2. It’s not a Satdee morning without a contribution from Swish and Gigs on the Coodabeens!

    I’m with you Swish, the weekend Idlers shows were great.

    Talkback has gotten a bit hit and miss of late, but it’s still good. Lance from Lara often has me in stitches. If Bill Brownless, Sam Newman or anyone else did that character, there’d be uproar, but the Coodabeens get away with it! I miss Digger and Massive from Moorabbin. But I also understand His Honour’s Conflict of Interest and impartiality obligations.

    Today I learned what the Coodabeens play out music is too. I had no idea it was a Bowie song.

    And I’ll take Young Andy on when it comes to South African accents too.

  3. The Coodabeens are brilliant. Love to get Guru Bob at an Almanac lunch.

    Roses are red
    Violets are glorious
    Never sneak up
    On Oscar Pistorius.
    Hmmmm – tink about dat.

  4. Agree Dips. Would love to get Guru Bob to a lunch so I can ask him to sign my copy of ‘Playing Time-On in South Saigon.’

  5. Dave Brown says

    Good stuff, Swish. The Coodabeens were a regular Saturday listen for me when living in Canberra. Think I even had an emailed ‘get rid of it’ read out once (describing Tyson Edwards as underrated – get rid of it!). Sadly, the moving to SA and not yet having come on with the podcast thang mean I don’t catch them anymore.

    As for travelling to the Ponderosa, you’ll be pleased to learn that Centrals now offer free, secure parking right next door so getting there from the leafy eastern (or north eastern) suburbs is a doddle. Last few times we’ve visited, Redlegs fans have made up half the crowd.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Been a regular listener since the late 80’s, footy wouldn’t be the same without them. Was a big fan of the old Sunday night show in the early nineties, got introduced to lots of great music from that show.
    The Coodabeens live is a wonderful experience. I’ve been lucky enough to see them at two Grand Finals and their 35th anniversary show in Colac this year.
    Was worried when Tony then Simon left about the show’s future, but Billy and Torch have been fantastic additions, as well as ‘Young Andy’. Plenty of seasons left in the Coodabeens!

  7. Mickey Randall says

    Ahh, Swish the opening bars of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly ” always ushered in a wonderful few hours.

    Like you I miss the evening shows especially as they were often my company as I drove home to the West Coast.

    Such is my dedication that last year after stupidly disposing of my Coodabeens cassettes I got Champs to post me replacement CD’s to Singapore.

    Great recollections and memories Swish. Thanks.

  8. Chris Rees @4boat says

    Swish, preach it brother. I love the Coodas. Originally I just listened to to their Sunday night show in Tassie, then when I lived in melbourne in 90/91 discovered they had the footy program Saturday mornings, what a revelation.

    Torch has admirably carried the straight man role established by Tony. “And where are you calling from Peter?” as if he didn’t know.

    Dips and Steve, I will have to get to that lunch too so Bob can sign my boxed set including ‘Thrashed In The Wet In Upper Tibet’ and ‘10.4 in Mangalore’

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks, looks like there is still plenty of affection out there, and much love for the non-footy side of things as well.

    Steve H – I imagine that they were heady days. The closest we got to Punter to Punter was when they hosted Countdown that one time.

    Stone Cold – I can picture your disappointment on the occasions when my tweets just weren’t funny enough that morning.

    Dips – that Guru Bob guy should write a book.

    Dave – it’s not to late to be dragged into this century. Free and secure parking in the Goodman Road vicinity – yowsa. Make sure you check your hubcaps after the game.

    Luke – keep the flame burning you youngsters.

    Mickey – their stuff sounds better with the tape hiss.

    Chris – I can see a new line of t-shirts for the portly footy fan, know anyone who could help with the design?

  10. Barry McAdam says

    I love the Coodabeens. But really miss the sultry voice of Helen from Healsville on the talkback.

  11. Hilarious. Like Steve Hodder, I was living in Melbourne inthe mid- and late-80s, and listened as often as I could to all the shows listed. Managed to hear a few int he early and mid-90’s when I moved back to ADL, but time and other commitments move on… Mrs Rabs has become an aficionado of some aspects of hte Coodabeens, and ‘Discipline Tony’ is a common comment at times of homely duress.
    Swish – loved the Sony shirt – will tell Sony and his daughters about it next I see them. And yes, there is free parking at the grounds of Lizbeff HS on home match days – enter via the Goodman Road gates, across from the entry to Grand Central. Haven’t noticed anyone nicking hubcaps (yet…)

  12. My favourite Guru Bob quote was about Bernard Toohey, when he won the game for Sydney by kicking 8 goals including 5 in the last quarter.

    That Bernard Toohey, he is surely a DSF.

    what do you mean Guru?

    He is a dead set freak.

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Swish you also have a couple of other things in common with,Champs he loves, Bob Neil and you have got the dreaded phone call re membership in his case the redlegs( Dave we were far more than 50 per cent of the crowd round 2 this year)

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Barry – don’t we all

    Rabs – I think the word is “affacondo”. Thanks for the parking tip, glad my old school is good for something

    Noel – Guru Bob – DSL

    ‘Book – does Champs pick up or put you through to voicemail?

  15. Swish,
    Having grown up with the Coodabeens (including having all their cassettes at home somewhere),
    I feel a sense of loyalty to them during footy season. And really, what else is one going to listen
    to on a Saturday morning?
    With the Coodabeens you know what you are going to get.
    But I truly despise it each time they do a song about Melbourne supporters and skiing (which
    is about once a fortnight). I’m not even a Demons supporter and I am over that schtick.

  16. I stumbled across my Coodabeens’ Big Bumper Footy Book (c1990/91) just a few days ago. Somehow I got out of the habit of tuning in but when Saturday afternoons were the norm they were part of my pre game ritual.

    I’ll never forget Timmy from Thomastown ridiculously asking if Craig Starcevich would win the Norm Smith Medal before the 1990 season had even started – only to go within a stray Terry Daniher elbow of perhaps doing so!

    Can’t believe they’re still going. Good on ’em. Thanks Swish.

  17. Apart from the topic and the affection the Coodabeens enjoy, this is a super piece of writing.

    “You can take the boy out of Hectorville, but you can’t make him go to an away game at Elizabeth, as Guru Bob may have once said,” made me laugh. As did others.

    I started listening to them on Sunday nights in Qld. They resonated. It was a good way of dealing with Sunday PPD (Post Piss-up Depression) before having to fire up for Year 10 Maths the next day. WE had never heard of RRR or a footy show up there.

  18. Swish I was tempted to go in and watch too, but I had a coleslaw to make.
    Couldn’t believe it when Pearl got blown off the airwaves #ilovepearlfrommornington #devastaed #ihatechoppingupcabbage, anyway Nigefromnorthfitzroy made up for it a bit when he declared that he didn’t realise it was grandfinal day.
    As for Very Serious Football Talk, they are the best.

    P.S. I was awarded the Norm Smith Medal for my coleslaw….. #chuffed

  19. recipe please

  20. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Smokie – I think that sometimes Collingwood gets it even more. I look forward to the traditional Queen’s Birthday rendition of Snow Complications; it signals the next couple of cold winter months. They leave no stereotype unturned, that’s for sure.

    JD – I’ve got that book too – it is still very funny for those old enough to understand it.

    JTH – Thanks. Its our ABC.

    Kate – Coleslaw always tastes better outside, on a sausage in bread. And I think the Nige may actually live on our side of the river.

  21. john, no recipe required, i usually make it up but the 2015 grand final day bbq varity inlcuded the usually gratings of cabbage, red and white, carrot, red onion?, spring onions, capsicum, please yourself as to the colour they all taste the same,… a big bowl of…plus fresh coriander chopped…squeeze either lemon or orange juice over it.
    the trick is in the dressing….half and half Best Mayonnaise and Praise cloeslaw dressing and one or two garlic cloves. in other variations, you can add a couple of teaspoons of seeded mayonnaise for a nice tang and replace the coriander with parsley and or even frash basil
    (have to mention brand names other wise the taste is affected)

  22. sorry…seeded mustard, not mayo

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