The Rooster crows at 40



The Rooster has become a good friend. Sport obsessed, she and I have threatened to attend a Carlton v Lions game now for years but for miscellaneous reasons (travel, work commitments, wrongful imprisonment), we’ve just never been able to coordinate our timetables to be in the same place at the same time to watch our tribes compete.


However, it would seem the planets have finally aligned in such a way that Round 6 of the AFLW will see them face off on the weekend of her 40th birthday.


Mel, Finance Minister, Events Coordinator and undisputed love of my life, has loosened the purse strings just enough to allow me to offer the most heartfelt, non-refundable gift I could offer any girl…my company. What else is there that 40 year old women need or want these days anyway? Bike pants, if preliminary observations are to be believed.


It will be a whirlwind tour of Melbourne, the city of my birth.


I will need to pack selectively. With carry on luggage only, wise choices need to be made. Subsequently, Mel lays out my clothes for me with careful consideration while I help by sitting quietly on a chair, kicking my legs backwards and forwards. We find it’s the most efficient method.


When it comes to fashion I usually opt to brazenly walk the fine line between clueless and homeless. With limited options at her disposal, I know Mel will find the right combinations to, at the very least, stop random strangers on the street offering to sponsor me.


Airport Security welcome me back for a “random” inspection, the way they do… EVERY.SINGLE.TIME! I’m not certain there’s anything remotely random about it.


Pleasantries are traded during the routine inspection of one’s bag, shoes and prostate. I don’t even bother to cough any more but I did find $1.30 in dropped coins during the exchange.


My seat in the departure lounge allows me a view of the Tiger Airlines terminal. I look on bemused as their passengers are herded single file, using kelpies and a stiff broom, across the tarmac.


Poor working class slobs flying Tiger Air. Look at them in their cut price squalor. That’s why it’s JetStar or nothing for me.


We board early which is always pleasing. Mist is piped into the cabin, which I’ve never experienced before. Yes, it creates a nice ambience but it’s a little too close to being trapped inside a Meatloaf film clip for my liking.


One of my major disdains associated with air travel (and it’s a distant second to crowding the baggage carousel) is walkers on domestic flights. People who treat the turning off, of the seat belt sign like it’s a starters gun and this flight appears to be hosting a half marathon.


If you can’t stay seated for the length of time it takes to watch the average film, then it’s definitely Tiger Air for you. I’m not certain they even have seats, just hand rails (the pilots do but they have to bring their own from home).


On international flights travelers are encouraged to participate in some form of in-flight activity be it stretching, calisthenics…though I can confirm from experience that totem tennis is largely frowned upon.


The lovely old lady beside me orders most of the available menu. The stern, male flight attendant leans over me to explain the varied options, allowing me the lengthy privilege of wearing his armpit for a hat. I politely wave him on. There’s no need, Mel has put together an in-flight care package of light snacks and other useful items.


The lovely old lady quivers with delight when her toastie arrives. This is not a lady who travels often.
Suddenly it’s all too much for Gladys, (I’m sorry but she’s just too nice to go beyond this paragraph without a name). She looks like a Gladys. So does her husband come to think of it…but I digress. Anyway, there’s trouble at 35,000 feet.


Gladys has emptied the entire contents of her hot tea into her lap. Wide-eyed she looks at me: “Oh dear…what do I do?”


“Add two sugars and stir?” is about all I can offer before suddenly remembering that Mel’s care package contains tissues (a must for all Lions supporters). Crisis averted. Nice one Team Simmons.


Twenty minutes from landing and the cabin mist has begun emitting tiny droplets of water instead. It’s disconcerting. If I’d wanted to spend the morning being spat on I’d have hung out with my year 7 Science teacher, Mr Roussac.




It is a warm, welcoming Melbourne day.


My old friend The Torch (I know, it’s all nicknames with me. I promise one day I will take the time to learn their real names), picks me up from the airport.


His accommodation is as inner city as you can get. He’s a sweetly timed torpedo punt (wind assisted) from the clocks of Flinders Street Station.


We head straight for The National Gallery of Victoria.


The first room I enter is entirely bereft of paintings or sculptures, instead offering a tasteful collection of finely crafted stools and tables. Clearly this is from the artist’s Ikean period.


It helps me conclude that I really don’t understand art. I want to, I really do but when a gallery attendant stops to tell me that the lovely vinyl bench I’ve been nodding my head at agreeably, is not part of the display, before sitting on it to eat his lunch, it’s just embarrassing.


The frames are really quite lovely though. You can’t buy those in Bunnings, let me tell you.


I did recognise one piece. A Frederick McCubbin painting called The Pioneer that I remember from a Kit Kat commercial in the `80s.


It’s no Dogs playing Pool but I like it.


It’s over to Young and Jackson’s for dinner, drinks and a cheeky wink to the iconic Chloe on the way back to Torch’s accommodation.


The flat is small. There’s enough room for two people, provided you both don’t want to sit down at the same time but it boasts killer views of the surrounding high rises.


Torch unfolds the airbed. What people have to understand is that the airbed was never designed with sleep in mind. It’s job, if done properly, is to merely provide the illusion of comfort before folding your body in on itself in such a way that would allow you to be stored safely under a bed also, should the need arise.


I believe it was the KGB who first perfected the airbed as a means of extracting confessions from political dissidents. They’d just tuck them in and wait patiently with a pad and pencil.


I barely sleep, though I have vague recollections of a dream where I’m swallowed whole by a giant Ryvita. I don’t know what it means. After being successfully airlifted out of bed I am introduced to the flat’s next peculiar quirk.
The bathroom has mirrored doors on both sides of me. Exiting the shower it creates the effect of being surrounded by 30 naked bald guys. It’s my bucks night all over again.




Melbourne is alive. The Maple trees of Swanston Street throw their leaves at me like angry strippers announcing Autumn’s approach.


Moomba is in full swing along the banks of the Yarra.


There’s something surprising on every corner. I’ve seen no less than 3 buskers playing cello already.


Unaccompanied cello! How many different ways can you play the theme to Jaws?


I’m on foot now through the Botanical Gardens.


Joggers lurch by. A kindly looking senior citizen does Tai Chi under a tree …or has walked into cobwebs, it’s hard to tell from this distance.


Hey, there’s the Myer Music Bowl! This place will present as a source of future Christmas anxiety for me. I’ve promised Mel that I will take her to Carols by Candlelight one year but the thought of Dennis Walter crooning at me with intent will take some getting used to.


I’ve seen fireworks at night, hot air balloons over the city skyline in the morning, now all this. This city is going all out to impress me. It’s like she’s begging me for reconciliation.


“Come back Jamie.” She implores “I miss you Jamie.” “No seriously, you look amazing in those beige, cargo pants Jamie.”


It’s all very flattering but it will amount to nought. I’m in a committed relationship with Brisbane now…but I think we can still be friends.


The G looks on mournfully, desperate for attention.


I’ve reached the Melbourne Storm family day, where the Rooster is waiting patiently.


There’s time for a quick drink at my regular watering hole, Young & Jackson’s, where I ask for “the usual” and the barkeep playfully pretends to have no idea who I am. We toast to 40 years of continuous respiration before hopping onto the Number19 to Princes Park (I know what it’s called…I don’t care).


The tram isn’t packed but it’s standing room only.


The overhead straps are just loose enough to have me horizontal on the sweeping bends up Royal Parade.


That two solid weeks of Gymnastics I endured in Grade 5 finally pays off as I stick the landing at our destination. The Russian judge gives me a 7.5.




Wow. So many memories come flooding back. All of a sudden I’m eleven years old again, standing on empty beer cans in the hope of seeing Quinlan soaring high above Bruce Doull in the goal square.


I haven’t been to Princes Park (I’m sorry…but no) since our dark days as a second rate tenant under an oppressive Carlton as Fitzroy’s landlord.


Choosing not to dwell too long on that it starts me thinking about the eclectic mix of landlords I’d accrued over the years before finally buying my own home with Mel.


Good, bad or otherwise Terry, blind since birth, wins hands down as the most memorable. Fiercely independent but always cheery, Terry always insisted on collecting the rent himself, in person. His wife was the “wheel man” only in this transaction. Motor running, she never left the car. Sometimes you’d only get a few minutes warning as he started tapping his way slowly up the pathway. At least you didn’t have to make any special efforts at being well presented. Who doesn’t love the idea of a landlord you can open the door to wearing only shampoo and carpet slippers and not have it become an awkward exchange.


He was every bit as determined when it came time to mow the lawns. You read that right, Terry insisted on mowing the lawns himself. Our offers of assistance were dismissed as near insults. He was, after all, “perfectly capable”. It was hard to watch. I’m not talking Adam Sandler movie marathon hard to watch, nothing is, but difficult nonetheless.


He always got the job done though, granted it wasn’t always our lawn that got mowed but nevertheless he would shout out his regards on completion, shoot us a quick thumbs up before disappearing off through the neighbour’s Agapanthus once more.


It was hard not to admire his determination.




We’ve settled nicely on the wing.


Captain Carlton and Navy Nina work the perimeters in energetic unison. I think there’s something going on with those two. Perhaps they’ll settle down one day and raise heavily padded offspring.


The home side introduce their players by number. I resist the temptation to cry: “Mercenary!” at Taylor Harris’s introduction. It was a painful break up. I still love watching her play though.


An earlier downpour doesn’t impede the early pace of the game. It’s fast, open football. The best kind.
Both sides open their accounts with transition goals. It’s great stuff.


Disposal efficiency by foot in the AFLW has improved enormously and it seems to improve with every outing. I think the days of leading forwards kicking big bags of goals are just around the corner.


The Rooster’s potential new squeeze arrives. I give him a gentle once over, offer some light interrogation and check him for ticks before offering my approval.


He’s in luck. He’s arrived just in time for the quarter time suitcase race. A young lass chases financial gain by dragging a suitcase across the turf and emptying its contents at selected stops.


The link between Carlton and Suitcases you ask? Well, one of the Blues’ sponsors manufactures luggage. It just makes me very glad that they haven’t been sponsored by a funeral home.


Prespakis will be a star. This young lady is very clean with her hands and boasts football smarts beyond her years. Vescio finds herself on the end of another quick movement of play and Carlton have officially grabbed the ascendancy.


There’s a fiery Carlton, Italian Nonna just stationed to our right. She questions every decision with a brutal lack of impartiality and demands perfection from her navy blue charges. I love her passion almost as much as I imagine I would love her cooking. I bet she does a Penne Arrabbiata that is simply to die for.


Taylor Harris buries Lutkins in a brutal tackle. I often wonder what exchanges old comrades share on the field of play, away from prying microphones. Harris and Kaslar have spent most of the first half tenderising each other which has me wondering whether friendships can endure relocation beyond the introductory hand shake.
Carlton hold a slender lead at half time.


Koenan slips at the worst time and the Blues walk in the easiest of goals to start the third term.


The Blues have upped the ante on physical harassment in the second half and it’s working. Hosking 1 and Hosking 2, Harris and Davey carry a genuine aura of intimidation about their approach to finding the football.


In accordance with prophecy McCarthy is felled heavily off the ball. She’s had her nose re-interpreted by a Carlton defender. It’s almost surrealistic in presentation to the bench. Think “Face” by Picasso (what d’ya know, I did learn something at the gallery after all).


Carlton are too good this time around and I console myself by conceding that it wouldn’t be much of a birthday offering if we’d won I suppose.


It’s not all bad for us. Jade Ellenger on debut was sensational and Ally Anderson has become an elite midfielder. If she can add 15 metres to her kicks, she’ll be the complete package.


Another tram ride and another group hug all the way down Royal Parade.


At least the first time we could step on. This time we have to pack down into a scrum and drive from the hips to get on board. We sway and grind in unison, which is fine if you’re Shakira but I barely know these people.


The Torch waits patiently to whisk me back to the airport and the waiting arms of Tullamarine Security. They all rise as one to greet me for my next random search. That’s sweet, Brisbane must have phoned ahead.


The little old lady with the Nunchucks and Jam Jars filled with napalm walks straight through unchallenged but for the bald guy in the Lions jumper, it’s one hand on weapons at all times!


I’m just going to wear an open backed surgical gown on future trips to make things easier.


I take comfort in the knowledge that I won’t be setting off any alarms unless they’re swabbing for traces of Burger Rings.


I see the statuesque figures of the vanquished Lions heading towards my departure gate. Looks like we’ll be sharing the flight home.


I say hello and shrug my shoulders (the international gesture for better luck next time) and they acknowledge me politely.


I want to ask for a photo but I’m suddenly shy. I figure they probably just saw me being shaken down by security and may be a little reluctant anyway.


I have a row to myself on the return flight. I miss Gladys. The lady across the aisle from me has a middle toe longer than her big toe and I bet they didn’t swab her! If that isn’t the calling card of a felon, I don’t know what is. I think I’m tired.


Mel waits at the gate and I fall into her warm embrace.


All in all, a wonderful weekend and I think The Rooster was genuinely thrilled that I could make it. Though she never did say if she liked the bike pants I got her.



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About Jamie Simmons

Born in Melbourne, a third generation Fitzroy supporter, in 1972 before emigrating to Tasmania during The Great Broccoli Famine of 86. Leaving my island lodgings, largely at the request of locals, to settle once more on the mainland in 1997. These days living out a peaceful existance on the outskirts of Brisbane, where I spend most of my time serving as a fashion warning to others.


  1. A very enjoyable yarn, Jamie.
    Thanks. Sounds like you had a blast

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    Fab read Jamie, thoroughly enjoyed it!

  3. I am the Rooster in this said article! Jamie…so very well written, so funny & so true! Beautiful read. Thank you for including me! It was a great 1/2 day spent with you!

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