I absolutely love these photos from today’s AFL Women’s game at Etihad between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. And I love even more that it was shown on TV for the very first time in the game’s history. By all accounts it was a really close and exciting game, with the Dees getting up by four points 6.4 to 5.6 over the Dogs. I was also pretty happy to read a lot of positive support on social media – in a year when fans seem to be ready to tear down anything and everything, it was nice to see them come together to universally applaud this.
There are few people who can deliver a cracking tale like Kate Millar and even better when it’s over a couple of beers. I mean, the girl’s partied with rock stars and even Robbie Williams has a personal nickname for her (in the best possible way). She’s a passionate Melbourne Demons fan, a big V supremacist and possibly the only person who still has Shane Woewodin up on a pedestal. I’m just devastated she couldn’t find the photo of her sitting on his lap. I met Kate when we worked together a few years back and I still maintain she would have been an excellent detective, though that’s definitely a story for another day…
Name: Kate Millar
Recruited from: Essendon
Occupation: City of Melbourne comms ninja
AFL team followed: Melbourne Demons
All time favourite footy moment: 2000 grand final appearance
I go for the Melbourne Demons. I think my first words were “Go Dees” as a toddler. My mum is major Demons, my nanny was major Demons and there is a bit of a joke in my family that both my nanny and my mum converted my Grandpa and Dad to be Melbourne supporters. Both my dad and grandpa said it was just going to be easier that way, because mum and nanny were both such fanatic Dees supporters. So me and my brother are true Dees – we had little choice. I remember when I was a toddler sitting in the car and my parents saying to me “Go Dees! Go Dees!” My parents have a lot to answer for because it’s led to a life of heartbreak.
I’ve gotta say, if I was ever going to stop barracking for Melbourne it would have been in primary school when I went to Essendon Primary School, which was at Windy Hill. About 95 per cent of the kids there went for Essendon and I felt like one of the only people in that entire school that went for the Demons. And there was a fair amount of kids pressuring me, saying things like “Errr why do you go for the Demons? Who goes for the Demons?”. Growing up it felt like, apart from family, I was the only person of my age in the suburb to barrack for the Demons. I can’t explain why I still go for them but if I was strong enough as a 10-year-old to stand against every single kid at Essendon primary and say “No I’m not changing teams” then I’m strong enough to still go for them now. We’d go to footy clinics at Windy Hill with Kevin Sheedy and all the Essendon players and I’d be the only kid in a Demons jumper. My parents got into our minds young and it worked, it definitely worked.
The first time I went to the footy was a sad day. It was Melbourne v West Coast and would have been in probably about 1994, I want to say. I went with my uncle who is a massive Dees supporter. We were sitting really close and it was really exciting. We were a good team back then but we lost dismally. But that’s OK, I was still really excited to be there and I remember it quite vividly. It was the start of something for me.
Going to the football now… So, this is a contentious issue. Growing up, I went to every single home game without fail and I was a gold member. Then come about 2008, things started to go rapidly downhill for the Dees – I was still a member and I might go once or twice or three times a year, but then I dropped off to the point where come 2012 I couldn’t even name half the players in the team. When I say I was a passionate supporter as a kid, I was over the top. Not only did I know all the players, which is normal, but I knew their heights, their date of birth, I knew every stat about them. I was fanatic, absolutely fanatic. So when they lost, I don’t want to say I’m a bad sport, but it cut deep. It cut really deep. Especially watching them lose to Essendon by 100 points. I’m not proud but I did drop off a bit. Now I’m back on board – though this year I haven’t been to a huge amount of games – I think three. I also still havent renewed my membership. I abandoned my gold membership about five years ago but I’m a few years off getting my MCC membership so I’ll hold out. I want to support the club so maybe next year. I should.
I’m a really nervous, anxious, chew my fingernails type of watcher. I don’t like close games. Sometimes I feel like I’d prefer to lose a game by 50 points than two points, because I get so anxious. If it’s really close and we’re behind then I have to distract myself and just get on Twitter and look at Titus O’Reily to make myself feel better. I’m like, you know what, this will play out the way it needs to play out but I don’t need to be engaged in this right now because I’m too anxious. But I’ve gotta say this year, even if it’s a close game, I still get excited even if we lose. I go into the game thinking we’re gonna lose and so if it’s really close, that’s a good thing – though, don’t get me wrong, when we lost to St Kilda with 19 seconds to go there was a tear that came out of my eye. But for the Dees to play a really competitive game, that’s exciting because Melbourne haven’t been that team for eight years. Eight years. That’s eight years of my adult life, I was 21 the last time Melbourne were even competitive. So for the first time in eight years we’re competitive and I’m excited.
I don’t have any superstitions now but I used to when I was young. Not religiously, and it would really depend on the game, but if I was doing something at that time like eating a jam doughnut and we hit the lead, I’d be like bring me six jam doughnuts and I’ll continue to eat jam doughnuts. So superstitious in that sense. If I turned on the TV at quarter time and we started losing, I’ll turn off the TV. I’ll follow it on the app because I’m a bad omen. But I’ve gotta say, this year the games that I’ve been to at the ground, we’ve won. So perhaps I’m a good omen.
Best footy memory is easy. Got this one easy. So I’m gonna break it down to a year – 2000. Which is an obvious one for a Melbourne supporter and everyone will say, “Oh 2000, Melbourne made the Grand Final, oh so great, whatever”. 2000 for me was epic times. In about 1998 I developed an unhealthy obsession with Shane Woewodin. Prior to that I had my woollen jumper with an iron on number three on the back for Gary Lyon. I was at a game, maybe a year or two after Gary had retired, and Shane Woewodin caught my eye. I was about 12 years old, I was starting to get feelings I didn’t really understand, and I couldn’t get enough of this Shane Woewodin. He did something spectacular during that game and that was it, I took off my jumper and I started trying to rip off the number three to replace it with 22. Ripping off an iron on number on a woolen jumper is not as easy as it sounds, so I made a real mess. I still have the jumper but it’s tattered with a ripped number three on the back. So I went out and I bought a new jumper and I got 22 stitched on the back. I was really excited about this and I was going to the games every week. Then in 2000, in my memory it was beyond the odds, we made it to the Grand Final. I remember the prelim and the semi where we beat Carlton and North Melbourne (I think) and I remember the feeling. “Holy shit we’ve made it to the grand final”. That year Essendon was on the top and the only team that defeated them that year was the Dogs (I think). Yet we had made it to the grand final and I was the happiest. But getting into the grand final was only half as happy as I was that Monday night before the game when the Brownlow was on. I was watching on a little TV that we had in the spare room. I was in high school at that time and mum used to be pretty strict with watching TV and going to bed early and doing homework, so my brother and I used to secretly watch from the spare room. Shane Woewodin was the dark horse, total outsider, but yet he was slowly creeping up in points, and I’m knowing the stats and I’m knowing the games late in the season, so I’m thinking Woewy is an absolute chance here, he’s an absolute chance. Then when he won – I can’t remember if I cried but in my head I did – I was the happiest, happiest person. On my jumper I had about 10 player badges, remember how you’d get the badges? I removed every single badge except Woewy and I wore it right in the centre. I was just so happy. I went to school the next day wearing my jumper – I went to a private school, so I had on my footy jumper and my footy scarf with my uniform. That week I also went to the Herald Sun building to buy a photo of Woewy holding up the Brownlow. The original photo – I had to have it. I just could not have been a happier person that week. It ended pretty suddenly on the Saturday though, when we lost the grand final by an amount that my brain has repressed.
Woewy was an unhealthy obsession for me. I used to go to go to family days at Melbourne – actually, even worse than that I used to go to training at Junction Oval. I was “Woewy Woewy Woewy” all the time. I went to this family day and you could line up for a photo with Woewy. It was a weird set up, although I didn’t think it was weird at the time, where you sat on Woewy to get the photo and they’d print it out and put it in a card for you. It was my most prized possession. I used to carry it around on my person. I’d just whip it out and go, “See my photo with Woewy?” to everyone. Then when he won the Brownlow, on the opening page of the card I put the Herald Sun photo that I’d purchased. I used to go to training and every time Woewy would come past I’d ask him to sign this or that. I got every single player to sign my jumper but I’d put my hand over the centre of my jumper and say, “You can’t sign the point because that’s reserved for Woewy”. You’d get weird looks, whatever, I didn’t care. I remember asking Wowey to sign the photo of me sitting on his lap and then I went back 5 minutes later and got him to sign the Brownlow photo I’d purchased. I’ll never forget the weird look he gave me when I did that because he’d seen that he’d already signed the photo of me sitting on his lap, but now I was asking him to sign something else. I didn’t care. We were destined to be together. I still remember doing the maths in my head thinking he’s nine years older than me, so the age gap is not that big, this can happen. Woewy was my guy.
I feel like I need to explain though how that came to an end. I woke up one morning and my mum actually came into my room, I think I was about 16. She said, “I need to tell you something” and she told me Woewy was going to Collingwood. I was so upset, and so mad that I called up the Melbourne Football Club. And when I say I called up the Melbourne Football Club, it wasn’t the first time I’d called them. And when I say called “them”, I mean I called the receptionist who’s name I think was Gail. I feel like Gail knew me as well – “So is there any training tonight, Gail?” So I called up and I said, “Gail what is happening, this cannot happen!” She was like, “I have no comment to make”. It was a year after Woewy had won his Brownlow, I didn’t know what was happening, I was genuinely devastated. So to express my devastation, I made a cassette tape about Woewy’s time at Melbourne. I had a CD called ‘My Heart Beats True’ and it had all of these different versions of the Melbourne theme song. The opening track had a selection of players talking about their experiences at the club. I’d listened to it a million times because Woewy talks on it – at the end of the track he says “I’ve started my career here and I want to finish my career here, finish my career here, finish my career here…” in an echo. So I made this cassette tape where I went through that CD and I just hit pause and record on all of Woewy’s clips talking about the Melbourne Football Club and how much he loves it. It was a Woewy compilation. Then I wrote this really heartfelt letter saying that Woewy doesn’t want to leave I can’t believe that you’re doing this, I’ve attached this tape, and you need to reconsider because listen to him, he’s clearly said that he started his career here and wants to finish his career here. I wish I had a copy of this but I don’t. I never got any kind of reply. It had a cassette attached to it! Right? It was heartbreaking. I was genuinely, genuinely shattered. After that I had to call my relationship with Woewy quits because I couldn’t love him anymore. So I don’t. Well I do.
My favourite player these days depends on the day. Bernie Vince is the obvious – he is arguably the new age Woewy. He is a stunning individual. He’s also extremely talented. Jesse Hogan is extremely exciting for me; he’s so young and so big and so strong and I just feel like Jesse Hogan is going to be the new David Neitz, right. We haven’t seen a strong forward since David Neitz and Jesse Hogan is the light at the end of the tunnel. He’s already strong but he’s only going to get stronger. So I’d have to say that Hoges is probably my favourite.
I am a big Watts fan. I think that Watts has been really hard done by – when Paul Roos says that the AFL set the number one draft picks up to fail, I completely agree with that. He has been targeted by everyone, even Dees supporters. Dees supporters can’t be all that proud of themselves over recent years because there was a time when they were booing their players off the race. Watts came in at a time when we were a really shit team and sure, he’s had bad moments but that’s not a reason to boo a player. You know what, he’s not the first number one draft pick that we’ve had who hasn’t been a legend. Travis Johnstone was a number one draft pick and he played in our premiership side so he wasn’t a bad player, but he wasn’t a superstar. If anyone was ever going to get holding the ball it was always Travis Johnstone. Jack Watts is the same. But I’m a fan of Watts and I root for him if he’s going for goal.
I don’t hate any team, but Fremantle are very irrelevant to me. I remember when they came into the league and I was thinking, “oh that’s cute”. Cool, we’ll get these purple guys in and even out the ladder, there’s going to be eight on top and eight on the bottom so cool, OK, whatever. I don’t know many Freo supporters but I can’t help but feel they have a pack mentality. They feel like they’re part of an untouchable army – they live on the other side of the country where 50 per cent of footy fans will barrack for Fremantle. Unless they’re playing West Coast, they dominate the crowd at home games, are surrounded by their own and carry on like they are at the FIFA World Cup. In Victoria, originally geographically everyone stuck to the pack but now it’s so fluid. My friends all barrack for different teams, we sit next to supporters wearing any colours at games. The Purple Army shout loud in Perth but it’s a stark contrast when they go to a game at the MCG, the only way they’re going to be surrounded by other Freo supporters is if they happen to walk into the urinal at a particular time when there are two other Dockers supporters on either side of them. Or when the five of them car pool to the footy together. They come from a different perspective of supporting footy than I do. They live in a pack. And they hate, hate, West Coast. Like, broaden your horizons. This isnt WAFL. I’m perhaps being unreasonably bitter the top two ladder positions are from WA, but if it’s a Fremantle v West Coast grand final this year it will be an irrelevant grand final for me.
I can’t really explain where the love of footy comes from. The other weekend I watched Melbourne beat Collingwood and that was great in itself because it’s Collingwood – everyone hates Collingwood. But the great thing was that there was some really good team play going on. The feeling that I get when I watch Melbourne, and I’ve lived basically my whole life watching Melbourne by myself unless I’m with my family, but you can’t match that feeling where your team is doing so well. Even if they’re not winning, it’s great ball play and they’re showing great skills and when they finish that game and they all come together, there’s just nothing like it. It just puts you in the best mood. It’s beautiful. Go Dees.
The story of how Jane and I met is a funny one. Around nine years ago we worked for two separate companies that had decided to merge. After the first meeting of the management team, my boss came back to our office and said, “There’s a girl over there I reckon you’d really like Nat.” When I asked her why she thought that she said it’s because she had a Melbourne Demons scarf hanging over her chair. Right. We eventually met and guess what? We hit it off thanks to our mutual love of not just AFL but pretty much most sports (though I can’t imagine I’ll ever come around to soccer sorry Jane). Nine years and countless footy games later we’re still great mates – it probably helps that we both know what it’s like to have great affection for two football clubs. I had a chat to her about footy and despite my best efforts she refused to admit that the 2004 grand final was the best of the modern era. Hmmm.
Name: Jane Lytras
Recruited from: BrisVegas
Occupation: One of the brains behind the Australian Open
AFL team followed: Melbourne Demons and Brisbane Lions
All time favourite footy moment: Brisbane Lions threepeat
“I go for Brisbane and Melbourne. I follow Melbourne because my grandpa played for them and Brisbane because I grew up there. I followed the Bears when they were crap. Mum’s family had an AFL background because grandpa, when he moved from Melbourne to Queensland, helped start up the QAFL. On mum’s side of the family it was strong, one of her brothers was in the Queensland team and one of her nephews as well, but he was replaced in the team by Jason Dunstall. So on her side there’s a strong Aussie Rules history and then dad when he came to Australia from Greece, even with his soccer background, the first time he saw Aussie Rules he said “I wish I’d moved here earlier so I could have played it.”
When the teams play I’m torn. I have been known to lose my voice and seem like a strange person cheering for both sides at the same time. Plus I normally choke myself because I’ve got two scarves around my neck. If they were playing against each other in a grand final… Oh my God. People have asked me this before. OK – I’ve seen Brisbane win three premierships and I have not seen Melbourne win a flag so I’m afraid I would have to say I’d be going for Melbourne.
People just say to me that you can’t have two teams and then they try to say that I’m trying to hedge my bets but I kinda point out where Brisbane and Melbourne are on the ladder at the moment and that you’re not really hedging your bets. I like to think of it as dual citizenship. You know, I’ve got Australian and Greek citizenship, and I’ve got Brisbane and Melbourne citizenship.
The first game I ever went to was Brisbane at Cararra and I think we were playing Essendon because I remember there were Bombers that flew over that gave us a fright. I don’t know if that was the time I got Mike Richardson’s autograph or not, but I was pretty excited. We didn’t really go to the AFL much when I was growing up because it was down at the Gold Coast so we couldn’t always make the trip down to see it. Once the Bears came to the ‘Gabba we got memberships and mum, dad and I used to go a lot.
At the game it depends on if I’m drinking. If I’m not drinking them I’m your classic Demons clapping hands, jolly good and well done. If I’m drinking then I’m probably a little bit louder but I’m never abusive. I do say “boo” and we always used to boo when Matthew Richardson kicked for goals because it seemed to work. Then my mum and I met him when we were in Paris and he was so lovely that mum just went, “I’m never going to boo that boy again.” And we haven’t since. I also think my behaviour depends on who I’m with at the game, that influences me a little bit. I can remember a friend of mine moved over from the UK and because the Dees were on the bottom of the ladder he decided to go for them. Going to games with him was fun, you know, educating him in AFL. He used to get quite worked up and if I wasn’t having to go to him “I don’t think you should be yelling that” then I was probably yelling as loudly as him.
I don’t have a membership. I did for a long time for both Brisbane and Melbourne and then I couldn’t justify the cost of both. Brisbane only gets five games down here and it’s still quite expensive. Then I moved over to the UK for a year and when I came back I just never renewed them. I know that I should and I know that I can get three game memberships but… I still get emails from both clubs, I just don’t go to games very often, so I’ve let it go.
I was there when Shaun Smith took the Mark of the Century. That was amazing. I was also there when Jason Dunstall kicked his 1000th goal in a game at the ‘Gabba, which was pretty exciting even though I’m not a Hawthorn supporter. And obviously the three Brisbane premierships are special memories. Oh… I don’t know if I have a favourite. Maybe the middle one against Collingwood because it was a closer game? Although I remember going to one of them, I can’t remember if it was against Essendon or Collingwood, where it was one of those classic Melbourne days where it was raining during the morning, we got to the ground and it was beautiful and sunny, we won, and then as we were leaving it started kind of snowy hailing. So that day kind of stands out in my memory as well, though not for the actual football. There was also one where Michael Voss came up holding the trophy and stood on the fence right in front of us. It was Vossy, so everyone was going off.
I went to all three of the Lions grand finals and the one that Port won as well, so all four that Brisbane were in. I was living in Sydney when Melbourne were in the 2000 grand final – I had Optus, that was when C7 used to broadcast it and I got C7 just so we could watch the grand final – then we got thrashed by what I think was the biggest margin in history at the time. 2004? That was the one where Alastair Lynch and the Wakelin had the punch on. We were right down near that, it was hilarious. Alastair Lynch was just doing all these air shots. My mum came to that one with me and she hadn’t been to the other three so she though she was the bad luck. You would think it was the best grand final of the last 20 years, wouldn’t you? I don’t think so.
Worst day at the footy is easy. So one day I went down to Geelong to see them play Brisbane. The train broke down or there was a crash on the tracks, I think it was one stop away from Skilled Stadium. So we weren’t going to get to the game in time unless we got off at that earlier stop and walked. Got there, cold, raining, standing out in that standing area, pouring with rain, windy, the Lions didn’t score for maybe the whole of the first quarter and then in the second quarter they might have gotten a couple of points. Jonathan Brown was injured, we got thrashed, and that was the first and last time I ever went to Skilled Stadium. I hate Skilled Stadium so much because of that that when Melbourne Victory had three games there this past year I didn’t go, and I’m a Melbourne Victory member. So I did not even utilise my membership, that’s how strong my hatred is.
With Dees, before the Bears were around, my favourite player was Robbie Flower. Then when the Bears came along I was a massive Choco Williams fan. One of mum’s workmates used to do the photography for the Bears and he used to give me the photos that he didn’t need. My bedroom walls were covered in black and white photos of Brisbane Bears players and there were a lot of Choco Williams ones in the centre right above my bed. Darryl White was a big favourite at Brisbane as well, Vossy and Simon Black. Jack Trengove for the Dees is a favourite now. Apart from being a good player when he’s not injured, he just seems like he’s very wise for his age. Got a good head on his shoulders.
You know what? I don’t love Jack Watts because I’m not really into blonds but I think people give Jack too hard a time. I feel bad for him because I think a lot of pressure was put on him. I hear Dees supporters yelling stuff at him and it makes me really angry when people yell at their own players. I remember a Brisbane v Sydney game once – and it’s the only game I’ve ever left early – where I was ready to punch a Sydney supporter. The Swans were beating Brisbane and this guy behind me just kept screaming at Leo Barry and abusing the crap out of him. We were close enough to the goal square that Leo Barry could have heard everything he was saying and I just thought, you’re supporting that team, why are you screaming at that man and saying horrible things?
When I lived in Sydney I hated the Swans because even though Brisbane were winning all the time, we always lost to them. It drove me mental. And then since I’ve moved to Melbourne it’s more St Kilda just because of all the off field crap with them. I have a love/hate thing with Chris Judd because I think he should have come to Melbourne. But at the same time I know he’s into philosophy and stuff so I can’t hate him. It’s like my Russell Brand thing where I don’t want to like him but I do.
The thing that I love about footy is the thing that I love about sport in general where it can be a great unifier. You can be having a shit time in life but you go along to a game and it will be an amazing game and it can just lift you up and make you forget about all the other stuff that’s going on.
It’s hard to kind of sum up what I don’t like. I don’t feel like I’m as big a fan as I used to be, I feel like the game is not quite in touch with the people as much as it used to be. I know the AFL is trying to do something about that. I feel like it’s over-umpired a little bit as well. It makes it difficult for there to be flow in the game and it can also make it a bit confusing, I also hate how some commentators are too familiar with the players to be commentating. If I hear Ling call Leigh Montagna ‘Joey’ again I will – to quote Terry Wallace – spew up.
No! Shane Woewodin is NOT the worst Brownlow Medallist of all time. Can I please tell you a story behind this. So, the first time I saw Shane Woewodin – even though I’m not really into blonds – I thought, oh he seems really lovely. He was suddenly my favourite player and this is when no one really knew who he was. I was still up in Brisbane then and I remember my sister and I went to a Brisbane v Richmond game at the ‘Gabba and we were drinking with a group of people in the Lions Club afterwards. We started talking about Brownlow and this was in like, March or April. I as saying back then that Shane Woewodin is going to win the Brownlow Medal and one of the Richmond guys was like, “Pfft, you’re a girl, what do you know.” Another one was like, “Shane who? No one knows who he is.” And who won the Brownlow Medal that year? Shane Woewodin. It might have been a superficial bet but he still won.”
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.
Age: 750 (being a Melbourne fan ages you prematurely)
Recruited from: Ivanhoe
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.”