When Dunlop Volleys just won’t do

With a steak knife, Clint Rule cut a sawtooth pattern running the other way (toe to heal). With some masking tape and a can of spray paint he added some stripes (just to make them feel normal) and shazam, had something for the track.


By Clint Rule

With the inevitable explosion of my Dunlop Volley Footy Boot Hybrids in about round 12 a few years back, I pined for a new idea. Something fresh to dig into for this year’s lower grade amateur league pre-season. And when I think fresh, I think retro.

In my school days there was one iconic footwear which was worn only by the toughest of kids in school. You had to have a fistful of school bully in you to justify pulling these rogues on. I’m not talking about Ug Boots, Ciaks or Romes, no, no they are for nansie-pansies, I’m on about Ripples by Rollers. If you didn’t dish out dead legs, crispies, scone knocks, Chinese arm burns etc. and so forth. If you didn’t ‘diss’ the school uniform and wore a black T-shirt with a skull, snake and knife print. If you didn’t have veins sticking out your arms or at least some bum fluff on your top lip. If you had none of these then you were just a pretender and you shouldn’t be wearing Ripples. If you did try it, you’d regret it. I was not any of the above.

For those who don’t know or don’t remember the Ripple. They are a Desert Boot with detention. A non tailored black cowhide suede upper with a ridiculously thick rubber soul. It had an aggressive tread. The tread resembled a factory roof sawtooth which ran in deep swell lines all the way across the boot. The soul was black, the laces were black, everything was black. When you sweated in them, your feet turned black. I’m a little surprised they didn’t have a compartment for sticking your Winnie Blues.

For schoolyard footy they were awful – they weighed about a kilo each and had no fit on the foot. It was like running in post holes. The trade-off was that you wore Ripples and you had the footprint to prove it. Also, some Ripple wearers generated plenty of self-entertainment by leaving muddy Ripple prints on the backs of smaller kids’ once-nice school shirts. The sawtooths had an advantage on a dewy or wet grassy deck. They would ratchet themselves deep into the kikuya providing a solid anchor for the grounded leg. But sideways they had nothing but skate.

My thoughts book-ended those school days and this year’s pre-season. In the middle there somewhere I had been to The Serengeti and seen baby gazelle type creatures playfully climbing on top of each other. The guide explained that they were in fact teaching each other ways to potentially escape the grip of a serious lion with the tummy rumbles. And we’ve all seen athlete’s running along pulling a tyre on a rope or running through heavy sand. For me the Ripples would parallel these ideals.

Now that I’m a big boy in my 40s I was thinking that perhaps I am tough enough now to wear these. Maybe it’s time to tick that off the bucket list. Surely I could hold my own on the schoolyard oval if required. After a shoe-shop search unbelievably I discovered they still make Ripples out there somewhere. And not just one manufacturer but there are a few competing for the tough kid market. It would have been traditional to steal some but I bought a pair.

But what of the lack of sideways grip problem? Fearful of doing a groin or knee or some other part of me I’ve never heard of, I needed to deal with that worrying attribute. With a steak knife I cut a sawtooth pattern running the other way (toe to heal). With some masking tape and a can of spray paint I added some stripes (just to make them feel normal) and shazam, now we’ve got something for the track.

All of the above was realised as they were an atrocious species of sportswear and attracted all manner of head shaking from my teammates. Hell heavy and awfully awkward to run and kick with. Eight or so sessions and a similar quantity of blisters and I was desperately ready to find my normal boots out the back there in shedland. And, yes, as soon as I put the real-deals back on. Oh yeah, this is good, it was like running around on Pamela Anderson. With it came a placebo slipstream feeling that yielded a skill and speed boost sling shotting me in Round 1. Result: successful. Cost: $28. Impact on Australian Rules Football: Negligible.


  1. Jeff Dowsing says

    Great yarn Clint, I can see all the non-pretender AFL clubs seeking Ripples for the next pre-season as a placebo to slipstream into Round 1! A lot cheaper than high altitude training plus the sensation of running around on Pamela Anderson (though I’d prefer the other way around).

  2. Thanks Jeff, those boots were giving me legs like a honey bee returning to the nest…and bloated blisters

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