When the sun sets over Carlton: Moments in Melbourne

This piece by Mickey Randall was first published in June 2014. Thanks to Swish for remembering this round. We reprise it for all those  visiting Melbourne this Grand Final weekend…

 

 

I am walking toward him.

And there is DK in his magnificently menacing delivery stride, wearing his ankle-high Puma bowling boots, about to hurl it at me. Doubtless, pitching on off stump, and jagging back sharply and unplayably onto a knee roll. Plumb. Its classical vitality, and summery childhood evocations are moving.

The DK Lillee statue outside the MCG’s Gate 1 is brilliant. Just brilliant.

*

The MCC library enthrals me. A library within a colosseum! In many other places and times this would be incongruous. The complete Wisden’s Almanack (still using the archaic “k”) catches my eye, as does its predecessor, Lilywhites. As a built environment the MCG is superb. It’s a rich human space.

I look affectionately towards the Nylex tower. It is considerably less than eleven degrees.

*

I catch the Skybus from the airport to the CBD. It takes twenty minutes. I know of no world city of 4.4 million in which this is possible. This pleases me.

The Skybus has Triple M blasting (see previous Footy Show section). I retrieve my phone, plug in the earphones, and tune into 3RRR’s Respect The Rock with Nicole TadPole. What choice had I?

*

Federation Square is arresting, but ugly. It is discordant, and utterly decontextualized. Is this the point? It’s a serviceable public square, but does it foster a narrative of loss? Is there now a begrudging acceptance of it among Melbournians?

It would be sullen not to invest an hour in Young and Jackson. I imagine that when I first visited in 1984 the taps offered VB, Fosters and VB. Murray’s Angry Man Pale is beyond horrid. It probably speaks of my naiveté concerning American styled beer, but in this case I see “complex character” as code for poop. However, Stone and Wood Pacific Ale is golden lusciousness.

*

My room doesn’t have NITV and The Marngrook Footy Show. Watching The Footy Show is like eating MacDonald’s; no one admits to it. And it’s true, courtesy of indifference, and a Northern Hemisphere address; I haven’t seen it for years.

Sam Newman is now devolved beyond self-parody. Does he even care about the eponymous character he is slaughtering? The cultural tone seems even lower than I recollect. Nevertheless, there is a tribute to Jonathan Brown, but with the obligatory mention of “frothies.”

Before they get to the games, I fall asleep.

*

I read The Odyssey on Mykonos. I heard “LA Woman” in California, while driving down your freeway. I even read Sun on the Stubble by South Australia’s favourite son, Colin Thiele, in Kapunda, in Year 8.

I love that I’m reading The Slap while in Melbourne. It seems to capture this city’s multicultural confidence. What fun to enjoy the art of a place while there! It informs the literary experience in an intimate, enhanced way.

*

A viticultural climax is the Murrindindi Shiraz at the Footy Almanac’s Waterside Hotel luncheon. Like the function, it is languid and companionable. David Wilson, Luke Reynolds and I each enjoy a marvellous steak.

We talk of Tim Rogers’ aching and artful vulnerability within the context of love and modern masculinity, Dane Swan’s unorthodoxy and Heritier Lumumba’s “I am a golden negro of mother Africa” tattoo. We also discuss Skyhooks.

Singapore to Adelaide to Brisbane to Kingaroy to Caloundra to Melbourne is a long way to go for a nosebag. Possibly even further than Merv Hughes would travel. But it is wonderful. Previous digital dialogues morph into spoken words. And more words. The hours rush by. The hours glide by.

*

At Docklands Stadium I take in Geelong and Essendon with J Harms, C Down, and A Else. I enjoy sitting in the Medallion Club at the Coventry End. The track is a FAST 1; a dry, hard track. The football is Muhammed Ali quick.

Being dispassionate about the result conjures Brecht, and Verfremdungseffekt, or the “alienation” effect. The purpose of this theatrical technique is to make the audience feel detached from the action of the play, and therefore better placed to appreciate it. Yep, that’s me!

Heppell is terrific for the Bombers. As a left-legger he’d fit into Hawthorn’s side, but he’d have to trade his absurd hair to one of the Coasts: Gold or West.

*

Saturday afternoon, and the Docklands for Richmond and St Kilda. I’m at a TAB caravan tapping the screen, and scanning the thoroughbred fields.

The wife and I went to Iceland one February. That was Hayman Island next to the icy lasers of fecking wind tearing at that caravan. Bjork would have pulled her beanie of swan feathers down low, abandoned any thoughts of a Rosehill, Race 6 earn and buggered off inside.

I do just that.

I meet Swish Schwerdt. We sit up high and chat about footy, writing, our childhoods, Skyhooks, and, of course, Eddie Hocking while, down below, Richmond win. I love hearing “Oh, we’re from Tigerland.” They’re my second team. I love having a second team.

On the concourse there’s a merchandise van called the “St Kilda Locker.” Bad eyes. Thought it said “St Kilda Lock Up.”

*

I dine at Il Tempo on Degraves Street.

As I eat my bruschetta I consider my relationship with the tomato. I love tomato soup, but despise tomato sauce, especially on fried eggs. Surely, among civilized peoples, this is inexcusable. I accommodate tomato in toasted sandwiches, but I avoid it in the New York underground train network restaurant. I will sometimes eat a grilled tomato at breakfast or a BBQ lunch.

Being an adult can be awkward.

*

In the Sunday morning quiet I play The Whitlams’ “Melbourne.” It’s a lovely song, and weekend coda.

In love with this girl

And with her town as well

Walking ’round the rainy city

What a pity there’s things to do at home

About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I see that you have overlooked my suggested Skyhooks themed headlines of Alman’ Callin’ or Smartarse Sportswriters.

    Youse Kapunda High kids always were literary snobs.

  2. The Kapunda High literati is a powerful force Swish. Let me know if you meet any of its members!

    Those Skyhooks suggestions are gold. Certainly more Living in the 70’s than Hot for the Orient.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    The steak really was marvellous. So was the Murrindindi. And the Fat Yak Pale. Really enjoyed morphing previous digital dialogues into spoken words. Great stuff Mickey.

  4. Sounds like you had a cracking time in Melbourne Mickey. Good win for your Crows too.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Loved it Mickey likewise looking forward to meeting , Luke at our Ad Uni FC Greys , Almanac lunch on Sunday Aug 3 with , Harmsy as guest speaker and then going to the pies v power game , Every 1 welcome ! Please RSVP to me
    I am with you re tomato soup not sauce , and haven’t watched the footy show in years . I also agree with you re going to a game as a neutral and while the umpiring is better than you actually think compared to being at your teams game the incompetence of instruction re the holding the ball rule you still notice
    Who wins in music arguments between you and Swish ? The inconsistency of the crows continues ! Thanks Mickey

  6. Yvette Wroby says

    HI Micky, lovely to meet to at the Almanac and then at the Dome. Sounds like your weekend was brilliant. Plentry of food, company, music and footy. Perfect.

    Yvette

  7. E.regnans says

    G’day Mickey – well played. Thanks very much for the lunch.
    And though The Slap is a Melbourne story, there’s a LOT about it that remains happily foreign to me. I”d love to think one of Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan books would be a fairer representation of our patch. “Stiff” or “The Brush off” perhaps.
    Grand to meet you – safe travels.

  8. Thanks Luke. Looks like you won’t have to worry about Sunday night games anymore! Nice win though.

    Djlitsa- had a very good time away. We’ll have to catch a game at the Boomarang soon!

    Malcolm- thanks. Enjoy the AUFC function, and then the footy. I reckon there were a few poor decisions and non-decisions in yesterday’s game at Adelaide oval. We watched with my sister’s family, who are all Port fans. At one point my brother-in-law said, “The free kick count is Adelaide 20, Port 7.” I replied, “That is a disgrace. It should be 40 to 7!”

    Thanks Yvette. Great to have met you too. Hope to cross paths again, when I’m next in Melbourne. Chin up about those Saints!

    E.regnans- Agree that there is much about the characters in The Slap that is abhorrent. However, they’re rich and realistically drawn, if often horrible. It’s an engaging yarn though. Thanks for the suggestions of additional “Melbourne” literature.

  9. Peter Flynn says

    Equalisation!

    Collingwood every Sunday night.

    Make it a 9:50pm start.

    It might make other nob clubs stop the clamour.

    Even then, it’s arguable it’s equal..

    This comp is a dead set farce.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Beautifully written Mickey. Check out ‘Dead Europe’. Turns the Slap into a tickle.
    Loved the Skyhooks references. I first saw them when I was 5-6 and they used to scare me, especially ‘Horror Movie’.

  11. Great write up and summary of the weekend. Whilst you were under the roof at Docklands I was at the Parade watching the mighty legs towel up the Dogs and torrnetial rain and seeingt 10 of the 20 Dogs supporters be ejected. Good weekend with the Crows yesterday, Long live the baulk king Scud Hocking.

  12. Peter- Such hostility towards Collingwood! Good suggestions though.

    Thanks Phillip. Although I’d heard of Christos Tsiolkas sometime ago, I’d not read him. I’m enjoying The Slap so plan to work my way through his other works. Were Skyhooks the first great Melbourne band?

    Raj- Thanks for that. As a Glenelg fan I was keen to get along to see them during our three weeks home, but as their form and season deteriorated, I decided my time could be better spent doing my tax or cleaning out the gutters of the homes of strangers, for free.

  13. Andrew Else says

    It was a hectic last quarter Mickey. Thankfully the company was good for four quarters (as well as the pre and post game)

    Harms’ post-game commentary was something else. I’m not sure which comp he’s been watching for the last 8 years, but his ‘I can’t believe the Cats won, they always lose those ones’ seemed as retro as his a dufflecoat.

  14. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Good question re: Skyhooks. I think Daddy Cool predated them by a few years.

  15. Andrew- While some like you and I may see the duffflecoat as retro, for many they are timeless! It was a cracking game of fast footy. Saturday’s Tigers and Saints contest was a contrast of sorts.

    Phillip- i reckon you’re right, and without resorting to google, I now think that The Easybeats may have been primarily a Melbourne outfit!

  16. Peter Fuller says

    Mickey,
    I enjoyed your account of your weekend, and sensed how much you valued sharing multiple hookups with Almanackers.
    I’d surmise that Christos Tsiolkas’ angst has its origins in the fact that he is (or certainly was) a Tigers fan. As a psychologist mate of mine (himself a lukewarm Punt Road man) once opined to me, following Richmond is a simple explanation for depression (can I stress that this is intended as a joke, as I am all too aware that the affliction isn’t a laughing matter for those affected).

  17. Thanks Peter. I remarked that Richmond is my second team, possibly as they have the best song, rarely threaten any other side, and go about their own particular form of misery in such a dogged and happy way, that they had to gain my minor allegiance!

  18. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Skyhooks were probably the first band that namechecked (is that a word?) Melbourne in popular music, unless Daddy Cool’s “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box’ was an ode to the 1956 Brownlow winner.

    But you’d get an argument from many about whether they were the first, great, band from Melbourne.

    The Easybeats originated in Sydney (Villawood Migrant Hostel).

    If you ever get the chance, do yourself a favour and chase these up for an insight into Oz music, pre-Skyhooks, pre-DC:

    “Wild About You!” (Ian D Marks and Iain McIntyre)

    “Tomorrow Is Today” (Iain McIntyre, ed)

    I’m struggling to come up with many Adelaide references in song, beyond Paul Kelly/Ben Folds, or Redgum’s “One More Boring Thursday Night…” and of course Skyhooks “Sitting in a Bar in Adelaide” – you might get to immerse yourself in those over the next few days.

  19. Great stuff Mickey.
    It was an excellent lunch, and sounds like you had a marvellous weekend.

  20. Dave Nadel says

    The first great Melbourne band was the The Loved Ones (1965-67). The Wild Cherries, who were almost contemporaries of the Loved Ones were pretty good also. Skyhooks were the first Melbourne band to write about Melbourne and their bass player Greg Macainish was a superb lyricist.

    I think there may be some mention of Adelaide in the early Cold Chisel material, definitely in the song “Home and Broken Hearted.”

  21. Thanks Swish. Lots of great information there. I’ll try to get hold of the books too. If DC can be believed the 1956 Brownlow Medallist was a very popular winner.

    Cheers Smokie. Always great to meet another Pogues fan.

    Thanks Dave. I’ve listened to The Loved Ones, and will now seek out The Wild Cherries. Agree that Greg Macainish was a witty and insightful lyricist. Has he continued to write songs since Skyhooks? It would be a surprise if he didn’t, but maybe his muse was anchored to the band experience.

  22. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I don’t think that Greg Macainsh recovered artistically from his stint as Farnsie’s bass player.

    Loved Ones and Wild Cherries are both prominent in the books I mentioned.

    The Accountants had a tune called Elizabeth City Riots, the closest my home town got to musical immortality,

  23. daniel flesch says

    Thanks for the stories , Mickey. Looking forward myself to going to Melb last week in August for the final two rounds. Spent my first 20 years in Melb , and the last 30 in Northern NSW , so will be something of a bewildered foreign tourist seeing the city has changed so much. e.g.” boutique laneway bars ” , chuckle . Hoping to see Hawks vs. Cats and Hawks vs. Pies and meeting Almanackers too.

  24. Thanks Daniel. I reckon you’ll enjoy your trip. Those big Hawks games, especially against the Cats, should be great. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Melbourne, and it has changed significantly.

    I really enjoyed my weekend there, and meeting and going to the footy with some Almanackers was outstanding. Enjoy!

  25. Dave Brown says

    Great piece Mickey. I wonder if the Shanghai Maglev would give the Skybus a run for its money.

    As for songs about Adelaide, Swish, we might need to look a bit more recently to Lost in Adelaide by Spiderbait, City of Light by Hilltop Hoods or anything by Greg Champion.

  26. Thanks Dave. Loved the Skybus service. Years ago the wife and I caught a taxi from Schipol Airport into Amsterdam. The driver had only one hand on the wheel, while he was talking on his Nokia. I think he was about to have phone sex. He was driving at excessive speed.

    Came From Adelaide is one of Champs’ finest tunes, although the line, “Milan Faletic, he’s pathetic” is uncharitable. Especially about one who is a “leviathan punter.”

  27. There’ll be no time for reading when we are in Melbourne. X

  28. Mickey, this reads as well today (the day After the Tiges’ second grand final win) as it did as the time – but how the Tiger world has changed. (Check Peter Fuller’s comment, among others!)

  29. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Richmond was 3-10 before this match. They won the next nine on end including a last round three point win over Sydney up there, to sneak into the eight.

  30. With some clinical authority we can conclusively say the Tigers are Bipolar. Regrettably the manic phase is now likely to last as long as the depressive state. Don’t know that Mr Wrap will be able to adjust. TLSPRF. The Loud Singing Punt Road Fanatics.

  31. Peter Fuller says

    John,
    Richmond as the late 20-teens Hawthorn?
    They have accomplished a remarkable change from the fractious organisation of the preceding four (or more) decades, where “eat em alive” was so often directed inward as well as out. I read an interesting profile of Peggy O’Neal in yesterday’s edition of The Saturday Paper, which reflected the pivotal role which Benny Gale and she have played in creating a stable off-field environment. Damien Hardwick’s success has only been possible because he was afforded a patience foreign to Tigerland in a previous era.
    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/sport/afl/2019/09/28/peggy-oneals-eye-the-tigers/15695928008825

  32. Thanks to Swish for recalling that bitter afternoon (the weather, not the result) five years’ ago. It was the weekend following the first Footy Almanac lunch I attended and it was outstanding. Thanks to those who’ve read (or re-read) and commented.

    Watching Saturday’s grand final from the Taminga pub in the Clare Valley we admired Richmond’s skill and tenacity, but found it a poor match for the non-fussed, possibly only equalled by 2007. Still, they can’t all be crackers.

    Haven’t looked for any commentary on the pre-match entertainment, but rotating through a handful of acts also failed to engage me. Would rathered one or two only. P.Kelly can command a stage for longer than two songs!

  33. Hi MR

    Don’t know how I missed this the first time round. Thoroughly enjoyable going with you as you manage your way around Melbourne (mainly bars and footy grounds).

    A couple of points.

    Well done getting from the airport to the city in 20 minutes. That’s more the exception than the usual. It once took me longer to get to the city than my flight from Adelaide to Melbourne.

    The Slap is an excellent read and a good approximation of, at least Melbourne’s northern suburbs middle class. Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip will throw shade on inner city Melbourne share-housing in the 80s. And Richard Twopeny, Town Life in Australia compares Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne in the 1880s.

    Music wise, don’t forget The Underground Lovers, Ice-cream Hands, David Bridie, Jet, The Living End and, ahem, Archie Roach.

    Finally, tomatoes. Best I’ve ever tasted was while in Greece. The richness of flavour. Mmmmm. Only ever have tomato sauce on sausage rolls. A must. In fact that’s a whole other conversation, best sausage rolls in Australia.

    Cheers

  34. Thanks for the wide-ranging nature of your comments Rick.

    I generally argue that, to adapt the old adage, the person who is tired of Melbourne is also tired of life.

    At the start of the year I dwelt upon my somewhat complex relationship with the tomato in this-

    https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/the-tomato-and-me/

    Sausage rolls? That’s a post and thread worth beginning. On our way back from Clare we stopped at Sevenhill (yes, named after Rome) where I had a very large sausage roll, but as is frequently the case it sacrificed some flavour for size. Best? Orange Spot Bakery in Glenelg (where formerly worked Kellie Underwood in her uni days, I believe).

    Cheers.

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