“I’m normally, you know, a pretty reserved kind of guy but I do tend to unleash at the footy.”


Pretty much all of my best memories from the end of my time in Canberra have one bloke in them – Christopher Mark Iverson. Although Ivo was technically my brother’s friend, we ended up living with a big group of other people in a Melrose Place style complex in Kaleen and chaos soon ensued. He’s still one of the best damn alcoholic Trivial Pursuit players I’ve ever met however his penchant for singing tones rather than words on SingStar continues to get under my skin. What I’m trying to say though is that Ivo’s a good bloke, despite the fact he’s a) a Bombers supporter and b) a lawyer. Now that we both live in Melbourne we catch up now and then for Coronas jammed into bowls of frozen margarita and, of course, to talk about football.

Name: Chris Iverson

Age: 33

Recruited from: Albury Wodonga

Occupation: Legal eagle

AFL team followed: Essendon Bombers

All time favourite footy moment: 1993 grand final

“I go for the Essendon Bombers. Why? That’s a good question. Footy is a big part of my family; my mum never followed football until she met my dad and then was quickly indoctrinated into the football way of life. My dad goes for Collingwood and my mum now goes for Brisbane – she’s from Brisbane. Who knows why my dad goes for Collingwood but he does, and he goes for them as all good Collingwood supporters do, he’s one eyed. I have three older brothers and two of them now go for Richmond and one goes for Collingwood. It was a big thing within my family for me, the youngest child, to pick a side. There was two and two – two Collingwood and two Richmond – and my parents and my older siblings were all trying to corrupt me. Anyway, it was a big thing. Family friends also tried to make me go for Sydney, but basically by the time I was 11 my best friend at school was a mad Essendon supporter and he and his dad brought me down from Albury Wodonga to Melbourne to go to an Essendon v Carlton game. I don’t know if you can recall the Essendon/Carlton game in the 1993 early rounds but basically Sticks Kernahan took a mark after the siren and just needed to score a point to win the match. He took the mark 35m out, slight angle and kicked it out of bounds on the full. It was a draw. I’d never been to such an exciting game. To top it off, my mate’s dad knew someone who got us into the Essendon rooms so I then went and met Sheedy and all the Essendon players, got all their autographs and I thought “Oh I might become an Essendon supporter.” Then we came back for the Essendon v Adelaide preliminary final that year and Essendon were down by about 45 points in the third quarter and basically they came back, stormed home, won the match and then the following week won the grand final. I thought, “Yep, that’s it, Essendon.” I wandered between Collingwood, Richmond, Sydney for a while in my youngest years, but then 1993 Essendon, that was it.

That said, it’s hard to keep going for them now. It’s too late now to change teams – my family gave me grief in those early years for changing and it would be even worse now. I think when you’re seven or eight then you’re entitled to take a little bit of time to work out where your allegiances lie – it’s such an important decision! Once I made the decision to commit though, that was it through thick or thin. I’ve got no time for people who switch teams or get on the bandwagon, that sort of thing. Our mutual friend Jimmy, he’s the worst. He has gone for pretty much every team in the NRL; the Chargers for a while there, St George – when I first met him he was a St George fan, then the Canberra Raiders for a bit, then he switched to the Titans when they were first formed and said “Yep, this is the team for me and I’ll never switch again,” now he’s back with the Raiders again. Literally he changes teams all the time. (To be fair Jimmy’s girlfriend is a Raiderette aka Canberra Raiders cheerleader so his most recent switch is probably understandable.)

The past three years have been tough, very tough. It’s been hard to admit you’re an Essendon fan. The drugs issue is such a polarising issue with people. And when I say polarising, that kind of makes it sound like there’s a 50/50 split either way but it’s not. It’s – how many teams are there in the comp? – it’s 17 against one usually in term of the views on the issue.

When people hear I’m a Bombers fan they usually roll out the “drug cheats” line. It’s all about the drugs at the moment and has been for the last three years. People didn’t tend to say too many bad things about Essendon in the years before that; everyone had teams that they hated like Carlton or Collingwood and not to say that everyone liked Essendon, but people didn’t hate Essendon the way that they now seem to. I think it’s ridiculous, when this all happened in 2011 and we have the current players in 2015, to think they are still now benefiting from taking some type of illicit substance. Half the players aren’t even there. Even for those who are still there, I don’t think that what they took was necessarily, on a worse case basis or even on ASADA’s case, something that was going to have a lasting effect. So I think that’s a bit unfair that people are still talking about them doping or being on drugs now. Anyone who’s watched any of our last two or three games would know that’s not true!

I’m also not saying that we didn’t do anything wrong – of course we did.  But, at present, the only thing we’ve been done for is ‘poor governance’ and I reckon that there’d be quite a few clubs that have subsequently taken a close look at the governance of their supplements programs and made a few changes.

I’m not necessarily on either side when it comes to Team Bomber or Team Hird. To be honest I thought last year when Bomber was in charge and there was pressure on the club to get rid of Hird or for Hird to resign himself, I was thinking yeah, maybe Bomber should stay on. It was just going to be too divisive for Hird to come back and Bomber has a proven record as head coach at Geelong. But then I just wasn’t all that happy with the way Bomber went about it at the end of the year and since then he’s been wanting noting to do with the club it seems. I’m kind of thinking that maybe we made the right call. I mean, the jury’s out on whether Hird’s actually a good coach or not and Thompson’s got two premierships to his none, but he took a bit of gloss off his record. He was the favourite son all through last year, right until the very, very end.

Absolutely this has damaged Hird in the eyes of Bombers fans. He was the absolute golden child, could do no wrong and even giving him the most favourable assessment now you can’t say he’s still the golden child. You just say he was a great player and leave it at that, I think people tend to agree. I don’t think he deliberately set out to do anything wrong in 2011, I think he was probably naïve and took some bad advice from someone who he thought was a guru, who had certain qualifications and who had worked at lots of clubs in the NRL – turned out he was probably nothing more than a charlatan.

I probably came down from the Murray once a year for the footy when I was growing up. We went to a lot of Collingwood games, I remember going to a game out at Victoria Park back in the 80s. I also think I went to the SCG a few times, went to the ‘Gabba in Brisbane, went to the WACA even – the WACA! They didn’t really tend to play much footy there, I went to the WACA before they started playing out at Subi. I didn’t go to a single game when I actually lived in Perth though – couldn’t get a ticket unless you were a Dockers or Eagles member! I probably go to the football seven or eight times a year now. I missed the first five weeks of this season as I was overseas or interstate but I’ve been to a couple of games so far. I probably went to seven or eight games last year and the year before, since I’ve been living in Melbourne.

I don’t have a membership. I decided when I moved to Melbourne I was finally going to take up a membership because having lived in Canberra, Perth, overseas, it just never seemed worth paying out for one. I must also admit that when I lived in Canberra I tended not to follow AFL as much as I used to and what I do now do because you just don’t get as much coverage there. So then when I moved to Melbourne at the start of 2012 I really looked at the packages and was pretty convinced I was going to get a good membership and go as much as I could. Then the so called “darkest day in sport” happened. That was enough to put me off – I didn’t think we’d even have a team at one point.

It’s not my best self at the football. Let’s be honest. I also get so nervous that I tend to have a few pre-game frothies. This is what I mean by not my best self: I’m normally, you know, a pretty reserved kind of guy but I do tend to unleash at the footy. I don’t tend to boo anyone for non politically correct reasons – I wouldn’t boo Adam Goodes for instance – but I do tend to have a go at the umpires and if I think they’ve made a bad decision, I will boo them. Which I know in current times is questionable but anyway, I still can’t help myself. My other thing I yell out is “Ball!” Just “Ball,” that’s it.

I’m not very superstitious by nature but until this year, there was a particular mate of mine that whenever we went to a game or even whenever we watched a game together, Essendon always won. Actually it might have been a game at the end of last year when it all fell apart and it hasn’t been any better since. But for the first 18 months I lived in Melbourne I was convinced that if my mate Kabe and I watched every game together then we would be undefeated for the season.

In terms of being there live, the best game I’ve watched is the 1993 preliminary final against Adelaide when we were down by so far them came back and won. It was outstanding. Watching on TV it was probably the week after, the grand final or the 2000 grand final. I’ve also been to quite an unusual number of draws. Another one against Carlton in the final round last year. They’re my highlights.

I can still remember my saddest day as an Essendon supporter. It was the preliminary final in 1996 when Plugger kicked the point after the siren. I remember watching at home with my family and with maybe two or three minutes to go we kicked another goal which put us up by two goals and I went nuts through the house. I was yelling out, “We’re into the grand final!” and I was doing laps of our house, screaming and carrying on. My parents and my brothers were all yelling at me to sit down and shut up. Their teams had all been knocked out and I don’t think they were all that keen on my team making the showdown. About 30 seconds later Sydney kicked a goal. And I then very quickly shut up, even though we were still up by six points. Then they kicked another goal and I went dead silent and there was this terrible look on my face. Then when Plugger took that mark for the kick after the siren, I ran to my room and I’m pretty sure I cried. It was a very, very sad day. I haven’t overcome that since – I won’t celebrate until the final siren (though I was pretty confident by quarter time in that game against Melbourne last year where we won by 150 points!). I don’t hate Sydney because they were kind of a bit shit for a long time, they did alright that year but then they were nothing again for a long while until the mid-2000s. I don’t hate them and if it was to happen with anyone then I kind of felt a bit sorry for the Swans because they were so unsuccessful for so long. And they still didn’t win that year. As soon as they beat us I was absolutely going for them in the grand final against the Kangas.

It seems wrong now to say James Hird was my favourite player growing up but he was a champon player, even if there are huge questions marks over his coaching. Matty Lloyd as well, obviously a powerful forward back in the day. In recent times I think Jobe has not just been a great player on the field but off-field as well, he’s really matured a lot as a player and a person. I actually didn’t think he was much good when he first started out – he was a pretty terrible kick.  But he’s worked so hard on his kicking which is why I admire him more, it’s not just natural talent with him.

At the moment I’d take Nat Fyfe but I think Gary Ablett Jr is the best that I’ve seen. I know that Carey was a fantastic player in his time but the ease with which Gary holds the ball, tackles, shakes a tackle… When he’s at his best I just am in awe. Carey might have taken a good pack mark and all that, which Ablett doesn’t tend to do, but for everything else I think Ablett’s the best. And, dare I say it, better than his father who was absolutely one of my heroes growing up.

I’ve definitely got some rivalries. Richmond, for family reasons I always enjoy beating them. Likewise Collingwood but who doesn’t? Those are probably the two biggest ones. West Coast as well just because we’ve had some fantastic games over the years, the Sheedy incident waving the scarf and sticking it up them that day and I’ve been to a couple of games against them since then and it’s always good. Then there’s the moment where Hirdy hugged the bloke when we played West Coast – that was fantastic that moment.

Things I hate… I hate the war on Essendon. I hate the advertising. I hate the LED signs at Etihad Stadium because it’s such a distraction. I don’t know if I like the sub rule. I think I’d scrap that. I mean, I’ll still keep watching the game whether they have that or not, but it’s one thing that if I was on the rules committee I’d get rid of. I don’t like it. Personally I think it cheapens your games record if you’ve spent 95 per cent of the game sitting on the bench. I kind of get the impact of being a man down, with rotations and things if you just have four on the bench, but I don’t know. I just never warmed to it when it was introduced and still haven’t.

I struggle to even answer why I love footy. I love everything about the whole experience, AFL more so than any other sport. Living in Canberra I got into league for a while and union as well in a big way but that tends to be quite polarising in terms of you either like one or the other – there’s still so much class warfare attached to both. Whereas AFL is a great leveller I think, particularly in Melbourne. It’s something which just permeates through the whole community. Going to the game and having such massive crowds, it’s a great experience. It really is the greatest game of all.”

“I’m not that short sighted that I’ve just forgotten everything that’s happened over the course of my life.”


In the short time I’ve had this website up and running I’ve been incredibly lucky that no one I’ve asked has turned me down for an interview. However not everyone I know is comfortable putting their name to blunt opinions. Phteven is someone I’ve known for a long time and while his passion for the Carlton Football Club hasn’t waned, I’ll admit I’d be hard pressed to own up to being a supporter this year too. So in order to preserve his dignity and allow for his good stories to be told I’ve given him the fake name of Phteven and the occupation of hovercraft driver because both make me laugh as much as the Carlton players do.

Name: Phteven

Age: 54

Recruited from: Diamond Valley

Occupation: Retired hovercraft driver

AFL team followed: Carlton Blues

All time favourite footy moment: 1995 grand final, running on to the ground and catching up to Big Nick

“I follow the Carlton Football Club. The Blues, the mighty Blues, the not so mighty Blues just at the minute, but I barrack for Carlton. It’s a long story but my grandfather played for Carlton in the 1930s. He played one game in either about 1930 or 1931. He worked for the SCC and lived in Brunswick, and would travel vast distances on his pushbike to read meters so he was incredibly fit. He was always a very good sportsman and always said he was a better cricketer than footballer. But he got invited down to Carlton to play and he made the team. He came on as the 19th man in the single game that he played. He was going up for a mark out the front of the Gardiner Stand, which is still there at Carlton it’s the old timber stand – you had the Heatley Stand, you had the Members’ Stand and then the Gardiner Stand – and he obviously didn’t realise that a photo had been taken. So he’s walking to work the next day at the SCC in town and walks past the old Argus building, looks in the front window and goes, “That’s me.” So he went in and bought the photo of him taking a mark in his one game for Carlton, number 13 he was, and I’ve got it. So it was a freaky set of circumstances.

He was employed at the SCC, rode the bike and it was typical that you’d come back for your lunch. A guy comes up and says, “Rex can I talk to you?”. He said sure and the bloke tells him that he’s received two letters, one from Essendon and one from Carlton, they both want him to play for them so what should he do? And my grandfather knew that this guy was a rover or a winger and he advised him to go to Essendon where he would probably more likely get a game. My grandfather was being honest, he wasn’t being facetious. Sitting at the end of the table was a bloke ear wigging on the conversation and he wrote a letter to the then president of the Carlton Football Club and said your player Rex told prospective player X to go to Essendon and not play for Carlton.  So as it happened the president then went down to the coach and said Rex is never to play in the firsts ever again. So he played one game at Carlton in the firsts and the next five or six years in the reserves. He said he would constantly get best on ground but because the president said to the coach that he’s never to play in the firsts ever again due to a perceived act of treachery, that was it. So I’ve got photos of my grandfather not only taking the mark but he also toured Brisbane and Sydney because Carlton did tours back then, long before anything that’s happening now. He’s got photos of him and Harry Valance, the whole team on tour. But he only ever played the one game. So there you go.

My mother, God rest her soul, and my father barracked for Carlton. My two brothers – my youngest brother played for Collingwood for 12 months but has come back to Carlton, my middle brother had a small dalliance with Essendon but we smacked that out of him and got him back to Carlton. And now my girls and my wife barrack for Carlton.

I’m not sure whether it was the first time but this certainly is my most vivid memory – I’ve got some really powerful memories of growing up as a kid and going down to watch Carlton play. I played junior football, probably as a 10 or 12 year old and afterwards my dad said, “Right, we’re gonna go and watch Carlton and Collingwood.” At the time it was ridiculous ’cause we got there late and the ground was packed. He got us in and on the city side on the wing there was a grandstand that just had a tin back and a tin roof on it. So we shimmied our way into the stand and it was packed. I couldn’t see a thing. So my father whacks me up into the rafters of the stand and just says “hang on”. So I’m hanging upside down from the rafters watching the game as a kid and right beneath me – right beneath me – is a massive fight. I crap myself, I’m looking at my father, my father’s yelling “Don’t get down!”. After the fight, which went for only a short time, after the fight there was the circle that no one entered because everyone was too scared to go back where the fight was. So if you looked up, here’s a 12 year old kid hanging from the rafters trying to watch the game… I don’t know how we did it. That’s probably my first memory, my most vivid memory, of going to a Carlton Collingwood game which was a ridiculous game to go to for a young boy.

The tradition for us as three boys, me being the oldest and my two younger brothers, was that we would make what was – when you think about it – a fairly arduous trip. The bus to Northland, the Bell Street bus up Bell Street to Sydney Road, the tram down Sydney Road to Princes Park, we’d watch the game, the tram back to Sydney Road and Bell Street, a Ferguson Plarre sausage roll on the corner – shop’s still there, the bus back to Northland then the bus home. So we’re talking at least a 10 hour day to get to the football but I loved it. It was a treat that we would go.

We knew that if it was close that to get on TV that night me and my brothers had to run down to the fence and hope that the ball came close, then when the ball came you hung over like a idiot. Then you got home quick enough to watch the replay, either on Channel 7 or Channel 2. That was it, that was our highlight. And the other big highlight was running out on the ground after the game. My most vivid memory is running up and catching up to John Nicholls and smacking him right in the middle of the number 2 and just getting sprayed with sweat. I had no idea.

I do go to the footy as much as I can, I actually enjoy it. I love the club. I’m not that short sighted that I’ve just forgotten everything that’s happened over the course of my life. We’re in a lot of trouble a the moment, we’re in a lot of trouble and I think that guys are down on confidence and until that comes back and until we can get a new mix of players in… It almost feels like to me as if we have to start again. And I’m sure that’s not true, I’m there are some gems down there like Patrick Cripps and a few of the other guys we’ve got down there who will carry us forward into the future. But there’s a fair bit of work to do down there I think. But everyone will get their turn at that. All the last couple of years has confirmed to me is that you have to have absolutely everything going for you to win one. It’s so hard. So yeah, we’ll be back. We’ll be back. We have to be. We have to be back.

I’ve gone through a number of phases. I’ve gone through the manic phase as a young fella where I quite enjoyed the interactions at the football. I’m more of a theatre goer now with the occasional spasm thrown in. And it’s usually got to do with blokes like Ray Chamberlain – I think the funniest thing I heard was on radio when Robert Walls was on with Rex Hunt and they awarded some Tontine pillows, I forget who they awarded them to. And someone in the box said we could reward Ray Chamberlain with a Tontine pillow and Robert Walls said yeah, he could use it as a sleeping bag. Just stuff like that. Occasionally I yell out. I’m not on it all the time but I will pick out the odd inconsistency in my view that I think needs to be pointed out. And then I realise shit, I’m 100 metres from the play, they’re not going to hear me anyway. But yeah, I’ll yell out. I don’t just sit there and cop it but I don’t go stupid either. I try not to.

I did go to the football with other people. My brother coaches a team now but I used to catch up with him – he lives a little way away so it was a great catch up for us. I’ve maintained my membership though and I pretty much go by myself, which is fine, I’m happy with all that. I’m happy just to sit there and watch it; believe me, there’s plenty of space at Carlton games now, you can sit pretty much anywhere you want! I’m not overly superstitious about wearing the same boots or jumper or anything like that; in fact, I probably go to the football and don’t identify as a Carlton supporter. I try and de-identify myself. I’ve got a witness protection program because it’s pretty frustrating at the moment. As I said, there’s plenty of spots to sit at a Carlton game now.

On any given day I could be driven to hate anyone. It’s probably easier to name who I don’t hate. Pretty much anyone that we can beat at the moment I don’t hate, everyone else I hate. It’s hard being a Carlton supporter at the moment. All the traditional vile supporters I’ve run across in my time… I still hate them. Hate’s a shocking word. But it’s only from a football perspective. Essendon – yeah, we’ve had run ins with them. The Pies – yeah, I’ve been smacked at Victoria Park in the head by an old bloke carrying an umbrella. Turned around to smack him and there’s 15,000 people there ready to kill me. That was a very long time ago. So yeah, just your traditional targets of hate that you could reasonably expect from a Carlton supporter.

I’m not a big one for the pre game experience. I see quarter time, half time and three quarter time as a time for pensive reflection, not for hearing Britney Spears or Taylor Swift. I use that time to talk to a fellow supporter or analyse where we’ve gone wrong. Our clubs see it as a way of giving away footballs or television sets. So the game’s changed and I get that, I get that, but I don’t particularly like that part of it. Which may sound strange. I get it and I understand they’ve gotta get kids along to the ground and make it as attractive as possible. But yeah… sometimes I just don’t get it. And that’s why I smashed the hovercraft.

I’d make it cheaper for people to go to games. I’d lower the prices of merchandise. I remember I went across to New York and a mate of mine there owns a sports bar. I wanted to take him over a Carton jumper that he could hang in the bar but they’re 100 bucks. I thought, OK I’ll buy him a t-shirt that he could wear around and they’re 50 or 60 bucks. It’s too dear. Just ’cause you’ve got Nike and Mars and the Carlton logo on it – make it a bit more accessible and cheaper for people to buy your merchandise and promote your goods. Surely that’s what it’s all about. I think there’s probably some stuff they can do. I know that they’ve lowered the food prices. It is still a touch expensive in my view. Footy brings such a buzz to Victoria and the product at the moment is fantastic.

Favourite players… Wayne Johnson. Jimmy Buckley. My mother worked at La Trobe Uni and looked after David McKay when he came down so I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Swan. Geoff Southby. So many of them, so many good players. But I really loved Wayne Johnson, really loved Jimmy Buckley and blokes like Ken Hunter, all those guys. Rod Ashman, David Glascott… We had so many good players. Mark McClure – he was certainly not in the pantheon of centre half forwards but for us it all just worked. Braddles, Sticks, so many good players. Peter Bosustow for the short time he was there. Carlton just had that ability to attract the right player at the right time and mould them in such a way that they were just so successful. It was blokes like David Parkin as coach who took the whole thing to another level. I have the utmost for David Parkin and what he’s done, what he’s done for Carlton. He’s probably my favourite coach. A lot of people have put in a lot of time down there and it’s a real shame to see where we are at the minute, but I think that the way football’s going at the moment everyone’s going to take their turn at that over the years. We just have to suck it up now and get better. But there’s been whole range of players down there over the years that I’ve just loved watching over the years. Jezza had the ability to run flat stick in a stooped position, just a fantastic athlete. Well ahead of his time. We had some great players at Carlton, we really did. We had great teams through the 70s, into the 80s and into the 90s. What a time to grow up being a Carlton supporter. It was as if we could never lose – now it’s as if we can never win. So there’s been a bit of a turnaround.

I recent years I loved watching Kouta, though he’s been gone quite a while now. Fev had the ability to light up a stadium. I was there the day he kicked his 99th goal at Etihad Stadium. I was really disappointed that he didn’t kick 100, he’d had a really good year. And just Juddy. I just so much enjoy watching Juddy. He’s such a good player and has been for us the last five or six years. I actually feel that we’ve underachieved for him and I’m a bit miffed and a bit disappointed that it’s worked out the way it has. I think the move was right, I think getting him across was the right thing to do at the time. people sometimes lose context, of why you do certain things at certain times and to get him across gave the club a whole deal of hope. We lost Josh Kennedy in the transfer and that’s swings and roundabouts but I’m so in awe of what Judd does and how he goes about it. Yeah, he makes the odd mistake along the way but he’s just been such a professional person and such a good player who has the best interests of the club at heart in everything that he does. I think he’s been a very special player, both at West Coast and at Carlton.

Gee, there were quite a few lads running around for Greater Western Sydney who are going to be fantastic. Jeremy Cameron is a fantastic player. Nat Fyfe. I watched a little bit of him on the weekend and he’s a really good player. There’s a lot of good players. I like to see the emergence of young players and there are a few coming along like Lachie Neale at Freo. Freo have got a really solid team this year, they’re gonna be hard to beat. I suppose this is where my interest has waned a bit because growing up, probably like a lot of other kids, I could tell you names, numbers, where they were recruited from, the whole lot. Now these days there’s so many players playing and I don’t watch a lot of TV other than the Carlton games. To actually pinpoint one particular player or a group of particular players is hard. I suppose I’d stick with the mainstream guys and I’m probably more interested in just how we’re developing at the moment. That takes up a lot of my interest and a lot of my time. I watched Matthew Dick the other weekend who we’ve recruited, who’s come down and whilst we got flogged, you could actually see in him there will be a player emerge in time. I like to watch that. Carlton has had a long history of, “We need a centre half forward so find the best centre half forward in the land and get him over”. You can’t do that any more.  So to develop your own people and get them up and running gives me even greater pleasure. That’s why I’m so happy that people like Steve Silvagni are down at the club because I think he obviously has the ability to pick talent and see talent like it is.

I think I know who’ll coach them next year. I think I know who I’d want but we’ll see. Mick’s not to blame. He’s not. I think he’s gotta share partial blame and I think he’s gotten some players to the club that at the moment haven’t lived up to expectations. But I think he’s also gotten some younger kids in who clearly will develop. For some reason Carlton supporters seem to have a degree of impatience that perhaps other clubs, like St Kilda or Footscray who haven’t had a lot of success, don’t have. I can imagine a Footscray supporter thinking, is this a false dawn? Is this another false dawn for us this year? And it probably isn’t. They’re on a real trajectory for success I think on the back of what is one player. And that’s Marcus Bontempelli. He brings that whole club new hope. I think if they continue to build they could end up anywhere, but everything will have to go right. You can turn things around quickly and I think Mick had tried. When you look at Bryce Gibbs signing up for five years and a couple of them signing up long term, they were lulled into a false sense of security. It’s only two years ago that we were a couple of kicks away from playing a prelim final. It’s only three years ago that we beat Richmond from six goals down. But it just shows you how quickly the game moves and how you’ve got to move with it otherwise you’re left behind. And you need a fair bit of luck as well. It’s almost the perfect storm.

I love the continual evolution of the game. I sat behind the goals one day at Etihad Stadium and I watched Scott Camporeale kick out from fullback and then run down to the other end of the ground in what seemed like the blink of an eye and kick it to a bloke who kicked a goal. I just thought, how did he do that? I can only guess at the levels of fitness these blokes achieve. I like that, I like the combativeness. To watch a good game of football there’s just a flow about it, there’s just an aura about it, there’s just something about it that keeps drawing me back. A good game of football can hold your interest for the whole two-and-a-half hours that it’s on but there are other games at the moment that are just rubbish. That’s a worry. I think we’ve probably got two or three or four too many teams in and I think that from time to time, there are perhaps some players that are playing – and good on them – but they perhaps wouldn’t have made it back when it was a 12 team comp.

It’ll never happen but I’d probably dump a team or two. I’d make sure that in a fixturing sense that every team plays each other at least once and then as you rotate through the next three years, or whatever the mathematics works out as – if it’s three or four years, that everyone’s played each other the same amount of times. So in other words, I wouldn’t stack the draw. Look at Carlton – we’ve got the next two Friday nights on the telly and really, it’s hurting our brand. So I think there’s perhaps the potential to keep Friday nights open and then possibly, though it might be difficult from a fixturing point of view, then look at bringing the best two teams from that weekend on to play on a Friday night and really showcase the game.

There’s a few things I don’t like about football. I think, that on the back of what I’ve just said about the players’ athleticism, I have no time for umpires who think they are bigger than the game. No time at all. So I’ve watched it go from one to two to three umpires, and I’ve seen umpires inject themselves into games just because of their ego, and that really really gives me the irrits. I don’t like that.

My prize possession is a photo of me and my daughter with Sticks and Parko and the premiership cup from 1995. That holds pride of place. I was really really fortunate in 1995 to go down to the Carlton rooms before they played Brisbane in that final. I am just in awe of that moment. To be down there and watch the players before they run out was a moment that I’ll never forget and it was really an honour to be down there. You know, I was there the day Blightly kicked that goal, I was there the day the Brisbane Lions kicked us when Warwick Capper kicked that goal, I was there when the fish and chip stand caught on fire, all those little things meld together. Braddles kicking that goal in the grand final and looking across and winking. I’ve seen Greg Williams – one of my favourite players and a bloke I detested at Sydney – come to Carlton and he’s an instant hero. That’s how much it can change. Lots and lots of good memories. I’ve been privileged to be able to barrack for the club.

That ’95 premiership was a special moment because it was the last one and the one I remember the most. And there’s the other premierships. My daughter was born on the 23rd June, 1988 so if you work back nine months to 1987 you can probably work out what’s happened there. She’s a twinkle in the eye. My wife will kill me for that.”

“I think people give up too easily on coaches or players and they don’t give them a chance any more.”

beck and bombers

Beck Angel is one of those people it’s almost impossible not to like – she’s bright, bubbly and pretty with an infectiously charming personality. That said, she does barrack for Essendon. Hard. So I suppose no one’s perfect. Beck’s also one of the rare people who grew up in the heartland of the club she’s supported all her life (except for one week) and it’s been a difficult couple of years for Bombers fans. I had a chat to her about Jobe, peptides, Jobe, attending the Brownlow, Jobe and why she yells out “Napkins!” at every game. And we also touched on Jobe.

Name: Beck Angel

Age: 31

Recruited from: Airport West

Occupation: Communications superstar for Toyota

AFL team followed: Essendon Bombers

All time favourite footy moment: 1993 and 2000 Grand Finals, meeting Jobe Watson

“I go for Essendon because I have to. It’s a family tradition to be an Essendon supporter. I grew up in the area so it’s Bombers for life. It’s certainly not the peptides that keeps me going for them now; Jobe Watson keeps me going. Except for three in-laws – one aunty and two uncles- everyone else goes for Essendon. For a week in oh, I think it would have been about ’94 or ’95, I barracked for Carlton. That was because my best friend Rosanna barracked for Carlton. My grand dad lived around the corner and I went around to see him and knocked on the door for him to open up, then I said “Grand dad guess what? I barrack for Carlton!”. I thought he went to open the door but he locked it and told me I wasn’t coming in until I barracked for Essendon. So I soon earned the error of my ways.

Because I grew up in the area, a lot of people I know went for Essendon. The local shops were always Essendon, people my dad worked with worked at the Essendon footy club, my next door neighbour worked at the Essendon footy club. In my area it was all very Essendon.

I can’t remember the year, it would have been probably ’91 or ’92 but I’m not really sure, but my first game was Essendon v North Melbourne. My dad took me and I went with all of my relatives. That was when I could walk and I was in the Southern Stand on the third floor, right up the top. My uncle was there who barracks for North Melbourne and the rest were Essendon. Essendon were losing but we got up at three-quarter time and then we lost. I was devastated. After that I always thought that if a team was winning in the third quarter then that means they have to lose, because that’s what happened to Essendon.

Probably the 1993 grand final is my favourite moment. I was very young and I was in Queensland with my family and we were watching it there. It’s more the lead up to it rather than the actual game. In Queensland we didn’t realise about the heat… Mum and dad took us to the supermarket and we got red and black balloons and streamers, and our 13th floor balcony was opposite the beach. We covered it on the morning with streamers, Essendon red and black, and put all out balloons up there then went to the beach. We kept hearing, “pop, pop, pop” and the balloons were all popping in the heat. Everyone was like, “What the hell? Who is this putting balloons up?”. Then we watched the game and we had our footy jumpers and our scarves on. When we won we were running around the pool, knocking on all the apartment buildings telling everyone Essendon had won. We couldn’t work out why no one in Queensland cared! It was just a very magical moment.

Worst moment was my first time at a grand final for Essendon, which was 2001. We lost and I was devastated because I missed out on the 2000 grand final. I went with my dad and I lined up for ages at the MCG to get tickets. Dad also wouldn’t let me get my face painted ’cause he sad he wouldn’t sit near me. I remember Vanessa Amorosi was playing and I was crying already at the start – my dad was very embarrassed that I was crying during the national anthem. And then Essendon lost and I must admit, I couldn’t bear to be there right at the end of the grand final so we left with about two minutes to spare. I couldn’t bear to watch the Essendon players down on their knees with their face in their hands and being very upset. It was my only grand final experience watching Essendon and it was shattering.

It’s been a tough few years to be an Essendon supporter. I feel for the players and football hasn’t been as enjoyable to watch. Even watching a game but knowing afterwards that James Hird’s going to talk about it or he’s going to be complaining about something in the media, or Caroline Wilson will be bagging Essendon for the fifth time that week… I don’t really like reading about it. I now think this season’s over for me after WADA’s appeal.

I don’t want to stray away from the club and I still love Essendon the same, it’s just not as enjoyable when the only thing people talk about when they find out you’re an Essendon supporter isn’t how they played on the weekend or how amazing Fletch is to still be playing at 40, it’s about the peptides. We’ve all heard it, you know when someone says “Uhhhh are you taking peptides?” and the joke’s old now. It’s certainly torn supporters and I think there are those who support Hird and those who don’t. I think everyone support the players and still wants to do the right thing by the club but it’s Hird who is splitting people.

Gavin Wanganeen is still my favourite player. He was my first favourite player ever and I loved everything about him. Most of all he was very good looking. I cried when he went to Port Adelaide. I cried myself to sleep for about a week but I was comforted by the fact he was going back home. I also love everything about Jobe Watson. I love watching Joe Daniher as well, I think he’s performing really well and he’ll continue to. I’m always interested in seeing him. But I really can’t go past Jobe Watson these days.

hodge and beck

There’s not so much another player I’d like to have at the club, I’m pretty happy with the Essendon team. There’s obviously some other good players out there, like I love Luke Hodge and I think he’s great. He’s getting on in his career but I think he’s great and he seems like a really good leader. But I’m pretty happy with who we’ve got. I’m happy we got Chappy (Paul Chapman) and I think we’ve stolen some good players, which is great.

On the field I hate Carlton, Collingwood and Hawthorn. I don’t like anything about those three clubs. I’m sure there’s nice things about them away from football but I hate them all and that’s probably because they always play well against us.

I haven’t had a membership in quite a few years. I used to always have one. The reason is my family stopped going to the football after we made the move to Etihad. My dad strongly opposed the move from the MCG to Etihad and went to all the meetings. Because of our fan base, he felt Etihad or whatever it was called at the time was too small. So I don’t have them to go with. My dad has been to Etihad once for a soccer game and he hates it. He refuses to go there for football. My other friend that I would always go to the football with, he moved to Queensland so I haven’t had a membership since he went up there. Of course I do occasionally get tickets through work.

If things go bad, I scream out “Napkins!” and repeatedly yell out “Napkins, napkins, napkins!”. When I was really young it worked, so in my head I just keep repeating the word ‘napkins’. I still do that now. I think it stemmed back to my nanna’s house and we did it while playing billiards. So I just repeatedly say it. When I was younger it was a little bit more out of control. This was actually when I was watching the games so people must have thought I was special. I also had different songs when different players got the ball. When Long got the ball I’d start singing, “Lalalala Long, lalalala Long, lalalala Long Long le Long Long Long” and when Harvey got it, it was “Harvey world travel, the travel professionals…”. I would have songs for a whole range of players and I’d sing them. I can’t remember what the others were. I try to forget. Now it’s only “napkins”.

When I’m not yelling “napkins” I get very stressed watching the football, but I can’t articulate myself. So I just move around in circles and just go “Oh nooooooooooo” in a really high pitched voice and just making noises because I can’t really say anything as I’m so stressed. I’m not good. My dad hates watching football with me and my brother hates it too. I can’t sit still.

I don’t have my jumpers any more because they don’t fit. I have my scarf and I will never get a proper scarf. This one has been my scarf since the early 1990s. I actually plait it as well and separate the red and the black then plait it when I’m getting stressed at the football. I always wear my scarf and then I just have other things around the house. Like I still have my Dean Solomon framed picture in my study. I had to throw out my Gavin Wanganeen stuff because it was too heartbreaking.

nat and beck2

I think footy is the closest thing to a religion in Victoria, it’s always about who you know and who you go for. I remember once I started dating someone and I asked him what team he barracked for and he sort of didn’t really have a team. He got back to me and said “I kinda go for this team” and the fact he didn’t say “I barrack for this team” meant we didn’t go out again. I was like, a man not liking football is not a man for me. I think it gets you passionate, you have your ups and your downs but it brings everyone together and you make friends just from common interests. Or you like to bag Collingwood or Carlton fans.

The thing that I actually hate the most about football is that I think people give up too easily on coaches or players and they don’t give them a chance any more. There are coaches who didn’t have a great start decades ago and then they built on their skills and became great coaches. Nowadays it’s very ruthless and I actually feel for the coaches and the players. I wish that would change and we got behind them a little bit more rather than always criticising them.

The Brownlow was the best day of my life, I now know what people feel like on their wedding day. It was fantastic to go. I couldn’t go to the toilet the whole time I was there because I knew a football player would be in the disabled toilet and I didn’t trust myself not to abuse them. And I felt that as a representative of Toyota, the AFL’s premier partner, that that would not go down well. So I couldn’t go to the toilet the entire time. I spent 15 minutes trying to find Jobe and I nearly gave up trying to get through everyone, but then I saw Dyson Heppell’s hair and it was the most magical thing I’ve ever seen. Because when I saw it I knew it was Dyson and I knew Jobe would be sitting there. I couldn’t get close enough to him so I shoved my friend in front and said you just have to tell him there’s a girl in a wheelchair that wants a photo with you. Jobe just saw me in the wheelchair and it was just… magic. He came over and smiled and I couldn’t talk to him, I was so nervous. But I got my photo.

I didn’t have a problem with the double denim. When I watched Jobe that day I was more concerned about his hair to be honest, than the double denim. His hair was… interesting. He needed product in his hair, I think and it needed to be a bit shorter. I was also getting annoyed because he didn’t have stubble, because I do prefer Jobe with stubble. I also kept looking at him dreamily and thinking, “Oh my gosh this is Tim Watson”. I love Jobe and Jobe is Tim and I love Tim. And then I dreamt about having dinner with Tim, Susie, Jobe and myself.”


“I always have hope for the first five minutes of every game.”


It’s a long hard road being a Melbourne Demons supporter and so it takes a special person to work themselves up to barrack for them. Westy is just that sort of person. Not only is his glass half empty, it’s been smashed to pieces by some pissed bloke in Bay 13. Despite that, Westy still loves the game itself and is incredibly thoughtful about his opinions on it. This season has given him a sliver of hope that there’d be light at the end of the tunnel as the Dees have actually won a game or two, so I decided to collar him and speak to him about football (and who might be the worst Brownow Medallist of all time) before ski season started.

Name: Westy

Age: 750 (being a Melbourne fan ages you prematurely)

Recruited from: Ivanhoe

Occupation: Superhero

AFL team followed: Melbourne Demons

All time favourite footy moment: Meeting Ron Barassi followed by the day we trade Jack Watts

“I actually started off my life barracking for Footscray. Somehow even in the mind of a five or six year old kid I knew they were pretty bad while I was going for them. Their great white hope was Simon Beasley and there wasn’t much else going on for Footscray at the time. I was a bit of a laughing stock at school because they were losing all the time, so in about grade one I decided I would change the team I went for and going through my mind was that it would have to be a good team. I counted up the number of premierships that teams had at the time and I didn’t want to be too facetious and go for the team with all the premierships, but Melbourne had a pretty good strike rate back then so I thought ‘they’ll be my team’. Since grade one I’ve followed them religiously.

I’m the only Demons supporter in my family. My dad went for Collingwood and actually had a couple of training runs down at Collingwood reserves. Mum was Hawthorn because my dad had a chemist shop in Hawthorn and was a sponsor of a couple of the local footy boys, as you do. I think we’ve still got a lovely picture hiding in the roof at mum’s place of one of them, don’t know who it was. My older brother was Carlton, sister was Fitzroy and my younger brother might have been a Swans boy for a little bit and then changed over to North Melbourne.

As kids we had arguments but now since Fitzroy folded, my sister has lost the passion for it. My younger brother is out of the country so he doesn’t get to follow it too much and my older brother is down in Tasmania so he’s not following it much either. Mum was only into the footy because of where dad’s shop was. So there’s really no arguments with them now. My sister still loves the game in general but she doesn’t get worked up about it now her heart and soul has been ripped out. You know how it goes. Stella is already a Dees fan. Libby goes for Collingwood and one of my brothers-in-law also goes for Melbourne so it’s actually nice to find a person with the same affliction as myself.

I don’t remember the first time I went to the footy but I remember a lot of early games we went to. Mum and dad had trouble accommodating all of us kids as obviously there was four different teams to go for. I do remember going to Fitzroy v Melbourne out at Waverley Park and seeing a couple of those games, which was great. Those were the days of Robbie Flower and Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson so you just went out there to watch what Jacko was up to or watch Robbie dance along the wing, which was fantastic. At the time I think my sister had Bernie Quinlan and players like that running around so you’d get to see ‘Superboot’ as well.

I’ve got lots of games that I remember that I’m very distraught over. There’s the 2000 grand final that I cry over. I remember seeing Melbourne play Hawthorn at Princes Park and Dunstall was just coming back from a knee reconstruction or maybe he had the crash helmet on, one or the other. We got flogged there. I remember Jimmy running over the mark and Buckenara scoring. I remember all those ones. In terms of a most enjoyable game I’m waiting for the grand final win for that one.

There’s a couple of umpires who I don’t like officiating Melbourne games. I think everyone has that, a couple of umpires that they do or don’t like. Look, I think they do do a pretty good job in a game that’s fast, dynamic, ever changing… Of course they’re going to get some stuff right, they’re gonna get some stuff wrong, but that’s part of what makes the game what it is I think. The video review, well that is what it is. I think they could make it easier and quicker. Otherwise the umpires are doing the best that they can, maybe make them a bit more professional, pay them a proper salary so they can all train towards it. Then maybe you get total consistency, which would be good.

I go to the footy a fair bit. I don’t always see Melbourne games but I do watch a fair bit of football. I have a smattering of Collingwood and Carlton in there because that’s what the brothers-in-law go to and I’ve also got the MCC membership. It’s broadened my horizon a bit that way.

Watching at home I give up and walk away. I just can’t watch it. At the game I’m very involved in it. I’m not a yeller for the whole match but I will scream out ‘ball’ – you get some crowd involvement but I do try and keep my head. I used to go with a mate and he’s a passionate Melbourne supporter. He would just go off at everything… You know those blokes who hang over the railing and yell, “What are you doing umpire? What’s wrong? Rah rah rah rah rah!”. He’s a mild mannered man outside but he gets MCG fever – he walks in there and off he goes. Nowadays you would hear me maybe two or three times a match. It’ll probably be on a ball call. And I don’t commentate, I’m not one of those blokes that sits there going, “Ohhhh did you see that?” or “What are you doing Roos? Move him!”.

I yell at my own team. I don’t abuse them. I’ll yell, “Good work!” or whatever cause sometimes you sit near the boundary and you think that they can hear you, whether they can or not. “On ya bike!” is one. I’ll be there with my brother in law and there’ll be frustration talk about the stupidest thing that has just occurred and unfortunately for Jack Watts, he is the man who cops most of our ire at the moment.

Being an MCC member I’ve gotta have a collared shirt on so it’s hard. I used to kit up and put the footy jumper on, make sure I had the scarf and the hat, the sunnies, the binoculars, the radio, the back up batteries for the radio, the bag, lunch, drinks, the whole bit. Now, no. Now I just take the radio and the headphones in. That’s standard issue and all that has to be taken.

I don’t have any superstitions. I can’t affect the outcome of a game. Don’t have to sit there and mark goals or points, don’t have to buy the Record, don’t have to get the same train, don’t have to sit in the same seat, don’t have to take my lucky blanket. Mind you, back when I was going with my mate who gets the MCG fever, there was a time when he thought the LaManna banana was lucky because we were sponsored by LaManna. It was a big fucking blow up banana that people would bring to the games and the whole bit. People would yell out, “The LaManna banana’s here, we’re gonna wiiiiinnnnn!!!”. Aaaaand then the LaManna banana met an untimely end. We actually started losing after that so maybe he was on to something. He was all for the LaManna banana.

Before I was an MCC member I was a passionate Melbourne supporter and I would fork out five, six hundred dollars a season. I started off when I first got a job and had money coming in buying the normal membership, then I started upgrading to support the club. At the time it was the Legends membership and Bob Johnson was the inaugural legend. Went with those then that tier folded and you ended up becoming a Red Legs member. I did as much as I could to support the club. After Daniher went and we started having a lot of on field problems I still supported the club and still bought my memberships, but I got so frustrated with Melbourne. It was the days of ‘tanking’ and we were losing games, they weren’t blooding players. It’s a symbiotic relationship between fans and the club, which doesn’t get talked about that much in that as a supporter I’m actually their employer as far as I’m concerned. I’m paying their wage through my membership, I’m paying out money and I couldn’t support the shit that I was seeing on the field. So my membership stopped and I’ve been distraught since then. I’m just waiting for us to turn the corner and start travelling in the right direction.

I feel I’m very close to buying a membership again this year. There were performances in the past where I didn’t think the players were trying, so I’d sit there and I was having a hard time justifying putting all this extra money into the club. I had to scrimp and save – it’s a lot of cash and you were getting poor results for it. If something hurts, why do you keep doing it? I’m hoping now – and I don’t want to sound like a bandwagon jumper now the nasty ‘tanking’ stuff is behind us – that I can move into fully getting behind the club again.

Paul Roos has made a difference in some respects but I want to see the legacy he leaves. Originally I thought that when Kevin Sheedy was on the market that he was the one we should have taken because the marketing for him would have been fantastic for the membership. The way he coached, or was coaching, he got kids up. You look at what he did up at GWS – while he didn’t have wins, he has really put the groundwork in for them. We’ll see what Roosy’s legacy leaves. I get frustrated, like I know Paul doesn’t win pre-season games. Didn’t when he was at the Sydney Swans. For Melbourne it’s a different kettle of fish because when you’re a team that’s so poor, or has been playing so poorly, you need to give your members hope so they buy the memberships and your club keeps on going and getting stronger. You need kids in the school yard who think that Melbourne had a couple of wins, to become supporters. Because if you don’t have any wins kids at school aren’t going to barrack for Melbourne. My two nieces go for Melbourne and that’s only because their dad does, and they keep it very very low key. You are a laughing stock as a Melbourne supporter at the moment. With Goodwin, we’ll have to wait and see. You never know, we might pinch Beveridge. He’s a man that’s got players playing for him. Clarko’s an ex Melbourne boy too, it would be interesting if he came back.

Did love Jimmy Stynes, did love Schwartz when he was a young bloke – he was fantastic, did love Allen Jakovich, but the player I used to love the most was Rod Grinter. In some of the dark days he was just a real hard nut footballer, like David Rhys Jones but the Melbourne version. And not as bad. Grinter was good and we had Lovett and Viney, those sort of blokes there too… That was a great team with a lot of great players. My favourite player now… well, it’s not Jack Watts. I used to love Stefan Martin as well, just because I could sit in the Members’ and flamboyantly yell out, “STEFAAAAAAN!”. We had Stefan and then we sent him up to Brisbane, sadly.

Ollie Wines. Geez. When you’ve got two blokes like Wines and Viney that feed off each other and compete against each other and strive against each other and make each other better when they play against or with each other, why would you not go, “I’ll take that”. It’s like Jack Watts or Nic Natanui. Who do you take? Nic Nat. I think Wines was always going to be good. If you’re looking at Jack Viney, then Jack Viney is good. And this kid’s on the same par and he would have been great at Melbourne because he would have competed with Viney. I also see the fact that Melbourne didn’t take him as something that’s possibly spurred him on to be an even better player for Port. He’s just a crackerjack kid.

If I could put any other player from any other club in our side then I’d take Selwood from Geelong.  Hard nut, leads by example. For us it’s what we would need. If he could just be plucked and stuck in there helping out Nath Jones then that would be fantastic for the midfield. I don’t mind Nath, he’s good. He’s getting there and obviously he’s got passion for the club which is part of what it is (being captain). Also he does lead by example and he’s now getting other blokes that are following his example, whereas for the last couple of years he’s been the only bloke that’s getting caned every single weekend.

I hate any team that beats Melbourne, so pretty much everyone. No one jumps to mind in terms of a player that I hate, or love to hate. Must be something about my old age that you just sit there and enjoy watching these blokes go out and play, no matter what. Jonno Brown was fantastic for so long. But no, I don’t really love to hate anyone these days… apart from Jack Watts. He’s my whipping boy, the poor bastard.

The best thing about footy is winning. Footy is a fantastic escape for two, two and a half, three hours. Now I’m such an ancient bastard I can sit there and think, “Oh I could have been a football player” or “I could have done this…”. Dream on, son. You know how it is. It’s just a fantastic escape for that three hours, it’s a fantastic contest, every game you go to you can get that winning feeling at the end of it. I always have hope for the first five minutes of every game.  Then you’ll see which way the ball’s bouncing for the game or you’ll just see if they’re switched on or not, and if they are or aren’t then that’s when you go “I think we might toss it”. Or we might have the feeling we’re gonna lose this one, you get that feeling early on. And then there’s the games that are absolutely crackerjack, like last year’s one where we just came out and beat Essendon. It was just fantastic.

I would get rid of all the talk about the changing of the Brownlow to the best player and make sure it’s always entrenched as best and fairest. That’s the ultimate for me, it’s the best and fairest, it’s not just the best player. To me it’s like you may as well give out gold medals at the Olympics to the drug cheats as well because here’s the fastest man in the world – he’s not the fairest fastest man in the world but he is the fastest. To me that’s the same as the Brownlow. It’s gotta be some bloke who should be admired for the skills and the whole shebang.

Shane Woewodin is not the worst Brownlow Medallist of all time. Definitely not. There has been quite a few shockers that have gotten it and Shane is no way the worst. Plus we traded him and got good money for him.”


“If you’re not nice to that little kid then no, you’re done.”


I worked with Clair White for well over a year before a Facebook photo made me realise she was actually a Sydney Swans supporter. What a missed opportunity that was and we could have spent months talking about how good Kurt Tippett looks in a red and white jumper these days. She’s also one of the few people I allow to message me about football on game day because she’s always respectful, though her reputation recently took a hit when she told me she thought Nat Fyfe was good looking. The other week she was on a late shift so that made Clair the perfect person to harass and actually, you know, talk to my friends about what they think about footy.

Name: Clair White

Age: 23

Recruited from: The Yarra Valley

Occupation: Media Officer (after being promoted off the rookie list)

AFL team followed: Sydney Swans

All time favourite footy moment: “Leo Barry you star!”

“I go for the Sydney Swans football club. I go for them because I didn’t have a choice in the matter. My dad went for South Melbourne and now I go for Sydney. That’s really about it. He started going when he was younger and it was thrust upon me. Everyone goes for Sydney (in my family) by blood or by marriage – my mum went for the Bears and now she goes for the Swans.

I feel like I’m too far gone now and I don’t want to be one of those “flip floppy” supporters who just change when the mood strikes. I had a friend who went from Essendon to Carlton when Dale Thomas got there because she thought he was good looking – that’s not a good enough reason for me to change teams. I like the Swans because I think they’re a good club. They’re a nice club. Everyone likes the Swans. They’re like, just the nice guys of the league.

I call them the Bloods sometimes. They still have SMFC on the back of their jumpers and I think that’s important to keep. Sydney people are probably like, “Screw that, it didn’t work in Melbourne and that’s why they came here and look how good they’ve been.” But we gave them their start and it’s important to recognise that. That’s why I go for Sydney, because they were South Melbourne once and our family wouldn’t be the only one that’s like that.

I went to the football for the first time I reckon at Telstra Dome. Or maybe Colonial Stadium was what it was called back then. It was when it was brand new and I would have been maybe about nine or 10. I had a colouring book because I couldn’t stay focused the whole time and we were up in the heavens of Colonial Stadium because it was so steep. There was a lady in front of me and every time Paul Kelly came on she’d be like, “Come on sweetheart! Come on sweetheart!” and it was so cute. So I had the colouring book, the lady and then I had the Footy Record. To get me interested and keep me watching, dad gave me the Footy Record and I was given the task of recording who gets the goals. So now to this day I will get a record. I compulsively fill it out and I cheat the system now because I have an app on phone to check, but I have to leave the ground with the Footy Record all correct. I bring them home and keep them for a while until I think, “Why do I have this?” and throw them out. But they do go home with me.

I feel like I’m bad luck when I go to games. I’ve seen the Swans win in person maybe only two or three times. I’m terrible luck. I go as much as I can because we’re an interstate team so we don’t have heaps of games here – last year I think I missed one of our Melbourne games. As I’ve gotten older it’s been easier to go but I’ll go to other games as well, not just Swans games. Mostly I try and recruit someone who goes for the Melbourne based team and go with them, otherwise I’ve got my sister or one of my best friends is like a Switzerland and will go with whoever, for whoever, whenever. It’s good when you go and you see all the other red and white people there. I remember distinctly being in primary school and having a footy day and everyone’s in black and white or black and red and I’m the only one in red and white. There’s a photo of me in a white polo shirt, red shorts, white tube socks and a red scrunchie. I reckon I was the lone Swan. It was terrible. I remember this one boy who went for St Kilda – who now goes for Gold Coast, which is questionable in itself  – saying to me, “Why do you go for an interstate team?”. For so long it felt like that was gnawing away at me and then we got really good so I was like, “Ha ha ha ha ha”. It’s been a labour of love but we got there and now we’re doing alright.

I don’t mind watching with other people. I do like watching with my dad, mostly just to laugh at how loud he gets, knowing full well no one can hear him and that most of us don’t really know what he’s yelling about anyway. Even though I’ve been brought up around footy I’ve managed to get to 23 years of age without knowing all the specifics of the rules. I played netball when I was younger and when you’re in it, you know everything. My mum came to watch me play netball for 12 years and could not tell you a single rule. She did it because she said it kept her less stressed. If she didn’t know the rules then she couldn’t get upset. I’ve taken a similar approach to football – I know if something looks wrong and I’m like, you can’t do that. You can’t grab that guy around the neck, that’s bad. Or hold that ball while he’s holding on to you. I’m a big “BAAAALLLL” fan but I’m not much of a sledger. My dad’s a big, “Open your eyes!” while I’m more of a “Pfth. Pfth. Oh. Pfth.” That’s about it, I don’t get too emotional.

I haven’t been to Sydney to see a game. I know. I was actually in Sydney last year with some girlfriends when the Swans had their family day and I was like, “Guys, we gotta go” and they were like, “Noooooo!”. I haven’t been interstate for any football – I’ve seen so many at the ‘G and Etihad. I have a friend who goes for the Pies and he always goes up to the game up there and they always beat us. He messages me and I don’t want to talk about it. It’s really depressing.

I’ve cried at home watching the football but I haven’t cried at the football. I cried in 2006. I’ve been yelled at by people when I used to work at Etihad in the bars and food outlets. There’s a lot of pressure on pies and beer at the football and as a 16-year-old, if you don’t have cold beer then you’re getting an earful. It’s nuts. I have cried in those halls of Etihad while going to get change or ’cause I’ve run out of water or whatever. It’s intense and it’s interesting to see the demographics between games. If you were working a North Melbourne v Melbourne crowd, it would be different to  working a Carlton v Essendon game. The different people that the different clubs bring, and the different vibe the supporters bring. It’s such a cultural and human experiment watching all the supporters interact. There’s also the difference between a footy crowd and a soccer crowd and their different actions are super interesting too.

My favourite day at the footy probably isn’t anything to do with the actual football. When I was in first year at uni I did a week’s worth of work experience at AFL House due to constant pestering of their Communications Director. When I was there they said just let us know if you want tickets to anything and I got tickets for my family, as well as my aunty and uncle who go for Melbourne, to a Swans v Melbourne game at the ‘G. We got these tickets and they were nice seats because they’re corporate or whatever and being there with them – we got trounced by the Dees and you don’t want that to happen – but it was great. I can’t be sad at the football. I like being there. It’s the same if you go to something like a concert and you know you’re there with people you have something in common with, I find it really fun and you can’t be sad. You can be really angry, but you can’t be sad.


In 2005 when Sydney won the grand final I was at home and both those years, 2005 and 2006 I was so nervous. Though as much as I do love football it gets to about halfway through the second quarter and I do lose interest for a while. I lull. When it gets to fourth quarter I’m all there though. I was really angry we didn’t do anything more exciting when they won in ’05 – there wasn’t a big crowd at our house so we couldn’t all hug, it was just my family. I’d just turned 14 so there wasn’t much I could do; I probably just went back to watching TV. In 2012 when we played in the grand final I made cupcakes, red and white and decorated. I made a bet with my dad, who didn’t think we’d win, that if we won I’d get to paint his nails red and white and he had to wear them to work. So we won and I alternated nails red and white and then did dots on the nails. I think I was more excited about that than the actual win. It was awesome.

I don’t want to talk about last year. I think the thing I didn’t want the most was to have to come in here and look at Carla, my Hawks supporting boss. Last year… was terrible. It’s like we forgot why we were there. Or how to play football or what a football was or how to function. It was bad. It was bad and I think because it was Hawthorn it was even worse.

I am quite fickle with favourite players and I have a soft spot for different players for different reasons. Adam Goodes holds a dear place in my heart because I feel like he’s a attached to a golden era of the Swans and many of those players have now left or retired.  He’s great and I think he’s really good for our team off the field as well. I think he’s a good leader. Luke Parker – very good, Teddy Richards – am a fan, Mike Pyke – token Canadian and do love him. I was a big Ryan O’Keefe fan for a long time until he made it clear he wanted to move back to Melbourne and I took that as a personal affront. I was like, “No we’re done. No Ryan, no. We’re done.” And I was a big Tadgh Kenneally fan for a long time with his little jig.  I’m really not that picky though.

When I found out we’d spent that obscene amount of money on Buddy I was very emotional and I didn’t like it. I’ve gone now from not liking it at all to liking Buddy for three hours a week to being OK. He seems to have mellowed out a lot and I don’t know if that’s because he is in Sydney and I don’t see him all the time or because he has really grown up. He’s engaged now. But I was very nervous that Buddy was gong to unsettle our team and he’d be a bad off field influence. He probably has been and I just don’t know, but they haven’t imploded yet so he can stay until we get our money’s worth. So, for like the next 25 years…

I will take a dislike to a player if when they win the grand final they aren’t nice to the kid that gives them the medal. Like with Tadgh Keneally, he did his jig but did the jig before high fiving that little kid. And even though I’d liked him for seven years that did take away some of the love. If you’re not nice to that little kid then, no, you’re done.

My creepiest moment was during that week at AFL House and they had some kind of big team, maybe a world team and Michael O’Loughlin was there. I was kind of excited because that’s Micky O and he’s kind of a Sydney legend. But then I lost my absolute shit when Bobby Skilton walked in the door. I lost it. He’s like this tiny little old man now and I couldn’t even talk. I was trying and I couldn’t ask him for anything, I couldn’t do anything. I was just in full Bobby Skilton meltdown mode.

I have a jumper but I don’t have a number on my jumper. I think that reflects my fickleness regarding favourite players and I can’t do it. I have a scarf that’s probably from that first bloody game at Colonial Stadium. It’s pretty gross and it’s got my name that mum stitched on to tell who’s is who with my sister and me. And I’ve got a beanie somewhere, one of those old ones with the logo and the pom pom on the end. I don’t know where it is though.

clair and sister ali

I have a soft spot for Melbourne. They would be my second team out of all of them and it’s like, “Why do you pick the struggling youngest child?”. Or oldest child as it may be. I liked them before Roosy and a lot of my extended family go for Melbourne. I like the tradition and I just feel like Melbourne seem important. I don’t know why. And then there’s the Jim Stynes of it all and you get all emotional, plus they were almost broke then they’re not broke and you’re like, “Yeah you can do it!”. And they suck all the time. When Roosy went there it felt like the stars were aligning. I was very sad when he left the Swans but now I like John Longmire so I don’t mind as much.

I would give Tasmania a team. I reckon they’ve earned it. Hawthorn can’t just be getting all the love from Tasmania, they’ve had enough. No more for Hawthorn! There’s no real team I have any big issues with though there’s some teams I like less than others because I associate them with people who I don’t like that barrack for them.

I really didn’t like Matthew Lloyd when he used to play because he as annoying. I don’t like Ryan Crowley because I think he’s a bit of a douchebag. There’s some funny guys, I think Dane Swan is hilarious and I could listen to him talk for ages. I think Jimmy Bartel is funny because he’s quiet, he’s quiet-funny. I like Pav. I love Joel Selwood, oh my god yes. I was a big Jack Trengove fan from Melbourne. He hasn’t played for a year and a half though because he’s got a bung foot.

I do follow a lot of sports journos and a few players on Twitter but I get sick of the players tweeting annoying stuff like their holiday to Bali. I don’t care. I watch bits and pieces on the Footy Show and the news, pre game stuff and I also have the Footy Now app on my phone.

I like the politics of sport. I would like to work in that space one day and I think it’s interesting to look into how clubs function. I’m probably more interested in that than I am in stats and that kind of boring crap.

The best thing about the football is… anything that can unite people like that, where you can take four hours out of life and just be at the football. There’s no pressure. But at the same time, something that is literally as simple as some men kicking a ball through some sticks will stop this town. Even at work I have to be ready – if James Hird quits his job tomorrow then I’m getting nothing in the paper because the first dozen pages are going to be about Hirdy. The best thing about the footy is that you can just be at the footy, you don’t have to worry about anything else.

Sydney will make finals this year but I don’t think we’ll win. I reckon at the end of the home and away we’ll be maybe fifth. I reckon we’ll get later into finals but I don’t think we’ll finish at the top. We have just dropped the bundle before. I’m very sceptical and I’d rather aim my expectations low and be surprised rather than bitterly disappointed.”