The Handicapper finally breaks her silence

I’m not sure why he sends me the newsletter.

I don’t look at it. He knows I don’t look at it.

He hopes I will look at it? He hopes I notice he really is working?

Well occasionally I take a passing glance at it. And this time my curiosity about the anniversary gift  got the better of me.

I hadn’t really noticed our wedding anniversary passing this year. When we married in a little timber church in the country on the first weekend of the footy season ten years ago, I had no idea that it would condemn us to a lifetime of uncelebrated anniversaries. Nor did I understand how much of our life together would march to the beat of the footy season’s drum and how the fortunes of the Geelong Football Club would uncannily resonate with our own.  But I should have.

Even on that blustery autumn day as we exchanged vows I vaguely recall a huge blue and white striped handkerchief (his) dabbing away a tear (mine), and later as we signed the register, was that a few bars of that Torreador song I heard in the midst of Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring? It was a good wedding. A great wedding. When we finally arrived at our honeymoon suite some time after midnight and threw our exhausted bodies on the bed it was lucky that the Geelong game was being replayed on TV so we could spend the rest of the night watching it together. A great finish to a memorable day. Such a shame that a footy game was taped over the wedding video a few years ago.

This was just the beginning of a life together – that is, together with footy. Initially it was just a few games on the radio on the weekend. Acceptable. Now with Foxtel our household is living proof it is possible, not only to watch every game, but to wake up and go to sleep with footy every day of the week. And if it’s not game replays or replays of replays, its game analysis and analysis of game analysis. He seems disappointed that when the dinner, bath, teeth, story and goodnight rituals finally end and three little children are  asleep at last, and a certain peace falls over our home, I don’t share his desire to hear the latest from the Couch or EMT. Does he not realise that listening to some of that stuff is about as interesting  as the resistance profile of heterogeneous vancomycin intermediate staphylococcus aureus would be to him. And in our little house there is no retreat. And yes there have recently been some of those discussions where each party emphasises their point strongly.

So I am sure the earphone solution came to me by divine intervention recently when I saw half price headphones as I peeled a soggy catalogue from the mailbox. Was it just coincidental that it should be at the time of our anniversary? I didn’t even know that he had remembered it until I saw his piece on FootyAlmanac. We didn’t celebrate it of course. He was in Perth, watching Geelong play Fremantle. I was here looking after the kids.

The ear phone solution is not ideal, but a reasonable compromise. It may help keep the domestic peace for another ten years. I think he even secretly likes the fact that he can now go to the loo without missing a single word of commentary.

And he doesn’t need to worry about the children. They all have some of his blue and white DNA. All of them were born in premiership years (more divine intervention?), and have been in Cats booties, beanies and bibs from the day they were born. Geelong was one of their first ten words.  They know the song. I can’t wait until he can take them to the footy – a whole game.

Today is Mother’s Day. I had been so hoping for a sleep-in.  But he is in Adelaide to see the Cats play the Crows and I am here with the kids. Maybe next year.


  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Sue, I ‘passed’ my first Mother’s Day test. I made the coffee, prepared the toast, changed the nappy, paid for brunch, rocked the pram to send the baby to sleep, before heading off to the footy. And I bought milk on the way home. ‘Satisfactory’.

  2. Great piece handicapper …I can give you my partner Ann’s number if that helps. If anything she could offer consolation that it could be worse.

  3. Susan – tell me more about heterogeneous vancomycin intermediate staphylococcus aureus

  4. Andrew Else says

    I have forwarded this to my fiance and to my sister (who was married two weeks ago…to a Cats fan)

    Forewarned is forearmed

  5. I should really show this piece to my wife !

  6. At least all that footy doesn’t leave any room on the TV for cricket or racing… or does it??

  7. Phil Dimitriadis says


    don’t know about heterogeneous vancomycin intermediate staphylococcus aureus, but it seems that an extensive footy nosology has built up over 10 years. You know that it will get worse should they lose to the Pies this Friday. Be strong :)

  8. Ah Susan, you are a saint, but as you know I am testament to the fact you can love the Dark One with no interest in football whatsoever. Persevere. He is worth it. I told him that MrsReid implemented the headphones on me from day one of the marriage but I have to have one ear exposed to listen to any advice she may wish to proffer.You are far more gentle with him.

  9. Grant Fraser says


    Thank you. My take on your article, which I will convey to Sheridan, is as follows:

    “good….great….Now with Foxtel in our household..”

    She knows and respects you. Surely The Prohibition can be lifted from Watsonia.


  10. It might appear that the man is infected with an incurable zealotry at times, I admit. But let me defend him as a husband by revealing a scene from last year’s grand final day. After the game I was in a bar with the aforementioned Harms trying to magnify the magnificence of our win by looking at the world through the joyous lens of the bottom of a pot. At one stage, our happiness needing a profounder expression than merely a repetition of “Shit, we’re good.” I asked him, “Desert Island… Jimmy Bartel or your wife, Harms? Who you taking?” The bar went pin drop still as the hooped sage deliberated. People wanted to know. Eventually a tear ran down his cheek and he said, “Don’t ask me to choose, Anson.”
    If ever there was a greater expression of love for a woman, in literature or history, I haven’t heard of it. What a marriage!!

  11. 3 votes: H. Capper
    Carn the Catters!!!

  12. Jill Stoll says

    Susan – you are amazing. I loved your article and laughed a lot. It brought back wonderful memories of the Accession St years and the Geelong-mania. And yes, that was a bit of the Geelong FC song intertwined with Sheep May Safely Graze that I played at your wedding. It won’t be long before all three kids can go to the footy with Dad. You won’t know yourself when that happens! Happy Mothers’ Day for Sunday. You are one of the best.

  13. Good onya, Susan. Three beautiful children born in three beautiful premiership years. Bless you.

  14. I am not mentioning the earphones in our house……

  15. Well done, HC, for putting up with Mr Harms for 10 years! I had him as a teacher for 5, and that was waaaay too long to put up with talk of GFC.

  16. Jen, Jill and then Amber. What is this – Footy Almanac or The Bold and the Beautiful?

  17. Mulcaster says

    Mother Harms look on the bright side at least you have had the last few years when Geelong have won flags. Spoiler and I had to put up with him when they could win games but not flags. In any event I am deeply disapointed that you haven’t mentioned the high light of your wedding i.e. when true to our laws we performed a “Chaps’ dance” when the DJ played “Eagle Rock”.

  18. Peter B – just the divine intervention referred to by Susan.

  19. I am not a devotee of that program Peter, in fact I can’t say I know of it at all.

    Is it big in the West?

  20. My wife Mary (the Avenging Eagle) is a very wise woman. She loves her dad, the Eagles, Shandy the labrador, the Bold and the Beautiful, and me (in that order).
    Ambrosia “Amber” Moore (formerly Forrester, Ashby and Romalotti) is a character in the soap operas The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless played by actress Adrienne Frantz.
    She has endured many challenges including being drugged and raped, having a relationship with a younger man, marriages to Rick Forrester and Daniel Romalotti, as well as an invalid one to Cane Ashby . She gave birth to a stillborn son and in 2011 gave birth to a daughter, Ambrosia “Rosie” Barber-Forrester with Marcus Forrester.
    The Avenging Eagle says that watching B&B gives her ‘perspective’ on our relationship.

  21. What can I say?

  22. Rick Kane says

    PB, I thought you were suggesting an alternative title to this website. Now that you have explained a character or two and plotlines, I definitiely support your motion to change the website’s name.

  23. Great piece, I forwarded it to Perky Girl. I think she may be pretending to like Australian football, aside from saying “Phwoar!” whenever Adam Goodes bounds across the turf or Josh Kennedy gets all sweaty, but she digs motorcycle racing. So far, I think the NFL works better for her than AFL.

  24. pamela sherpa says

    He says – She says: What a classic. Great piece Susan

  25. Harms doing the Eagle Rock? I am prepared to pay top $ for the video.

  26. bernard whimpress says

    On the basis of that story John might now be the second-best writer in his own family.

  27. John Harms says

    I want it to be known that The Handicapper is using a lot of license in this article. The wedding video was not taped over with football. It was taped over with an episode of Four Corners.

    Hence PB the Eagle Rock moment was lost.

    Bernard, I’ve offered The Handicapper a column. She says once a decade is about right.

  28. John – Round 1, 2013. There is already a fine tradition of the Cats in Perth for Round 1. Why should the Handicapper continue to miss out on your presence for anniversaries? Next year you and the Handicapper can renew your vows in front of 40,000 adoring witnesses (and millions Australia wide). Up on the light towers at Subi with the Eagle mascot at 3 quarter time, reliving your finest moment together to the unforgettable sounds of Daddy Cool. I will see if we can get Ross Wilson to do it live. As a special dispensation you can wear your Geelong scarf.
    You know it make sense.
    “Now listen, Oh we’re steppin out, I’m gonna turned around, Gonna turned around once, Harmses doin the Eagle Rock, Oh Mama!”

  29. Stephen Cooke says

    Bernard, that would make John the Mark Waugh of the household.

  30. Neil Belford says

    If you send him to all the interstate Cats games this year they will definitely miss the finals.

  31. Dear Susan,

    a great piece of writing and confirmation on what we all suspected about John. The trouble is, we can’t go at him because all the other almanacker, females included, are equally as tragic as all our stories attest. The saving grace seems to be humour and love, and you have that in bucket loads. As well as premiership happiness. Looking forward to hearing of your next ten years….your writing is briliant.


  32. Stephanie Holt says

    Worth the wait!

  33. Steve Fahey says

    Fantastic piece Sue

    I can sniff the beginnings of a powerful Almanac’kers Partners Support Group'(although the somewhat lengthy Almanackers Relief from Sport is Eating Our Lives Emergency Support would provide a more colourful acronym which might accurately reflect the occasional tone of the barbs directed at sport-obsessed Almanackers by their frustrated partners) !!! .

    Please note that my partner thought that I might be having a crack at the partners when I showed her the article and this contribution. Fear not, an expression of empathic support is my intention with the acronym pointed squarely in the other direction and attempting to understand the position of the non-sport obsessed partner.

  34. John Kingsmill says


    This is absolutely brilliant. More, please!

  35. John Harms says

    I am concerned for your memory, dear. The Toreador song was cleverly inserted into Sheep May Safely Graze during the signing by the brilliant Jill Stoll of Opera Queensland. (Her kids now play for the Everton Park Wolves – Jill wrote the piece about flamboyancy in flag-waving.) Given this inaccuracy I am drawn to wonder how much of the piece can be trusted.

  36. Barry Levinson says

    Great piece. I made sure my wife read it too! After occasionally having my commitment to football versus family questioned it’s good for her to know that I could in fact be worse! John, I’m surprised you allowed your wedding to take place in footy season in the first place.

  37. Rick Kane says

    Mr Harms

    Thou doth protest to much

    Yours, in spirit

  38. They just don’t seem to understand some things John.

  39. Pamela Sherpa says

    Whenever my husband or children roll their eyes at my football taking precedence over everything else I simply remind them that I was following football long before any of them came into my life.

  40. Leesa Catto says

    That was very funny, hilarious actually. I hope that we get to read more of your observations and thought on here. Loved it!

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