I wanted to congratulate you and Drew on your commentating of
the Pt Melbourne/Coburg game last Saturday. As a passionate supporter
of the old VFA it was so pleasing to see such good crowds on both
Saturday and Sunday.You both made the game even more exciting
and it was great to hear tales of some of the "old days".
The game bought back many memories of some wild clashes I experienced
when as a proud Port Melbourne player we would host games against
Coburg and others, before thousands of supporters. They were wild
games yet in comparison to present professional sport almost naive
In 1967 I played for Port in the Grand Final against Dandenong,
what a game! Many people do not realise the 4 Melbourne TV Channels
televised the game live which was played at the old Richmond oval.
Even with the live television in excess of 25,000 supporters
jammed into the ground. I have often wondered if that game and
the next few years of success for the VFA was the catalyst for
Channel 7,the Herald Sun and the VFL to bring their big guns against
the VFA in any way possible.
The Port/Dandy clash was a beauty, and if there is any footage
available from CH 10 it would make Channel 7's show Biffs Bashes
and Brawls or what ever it is called, look like a tea party. In
the third quarter John Peck said to me "stick close I have
to do something", (the freekick count was something like
6 to Port and 25+ to Dandy), I was already reported for hitting
Jim MacNamara,( who was the size of a brick door) and Pecky said
"you concentrate on kicking goals and keeping it in the forward
line,(I had three at that stage playing at CHF ), I'll fix things
All of a sudden there was a wild melee on the half forward flank
and big Eddie Melai and Umpire Jackson were out on their back.
Big Eddie was genuinely tough (as was his Captain Coach Alan Morrow)
and as he struggled to his feet like a hugh tree trunk, the ump
was still surrounded by trainers being treated resulting in the
emergency ump to the roars of the Port faithful who believed we
were getting a rough time from the fallen ump, raced out looking
as though he would take control of the game.
Well to our collective disappointment Umpire Jackson eventually
was able to continue with the game, Port lost, Pecky received
10 or 12 weeks, I was pinged for three weeks with other Port players
It was such a big event Channel 0 replayed the whole game again
on the Monday evening, and a book was written, titled "The
Wildest Game Ever Played". I don't know if it was, but Ringside
Wrestling as it was called then, probably learnt something that
day.There was some terrific players in both sides, including two
young Port players, born and bred in Port as was most of the side,
Bedford and Gary Brice.
So many guys were from "the Wharf" at a time when much
loading and unloading was by brute strength. When I arrived at
Port in 1963, courtesy of Laurie Mithen the then C.C., I proudly
was given my Port jumper, to my joy it was short sleeved, and
sat amongst these tatooed hughly muscled oiled arms.
I was trying to keep my very lightly framed arms clenched to
make them look bigger, when Norm Goss accompanied by Tommy Lahiff
called me over after the coachs address and said,"here Garry,
take this guernsey, it will fit better", it was long sleeved!!!
So in my first game, 17 players ran down the race, muscled bodies
glistening with oil and in short sleeved jumpers, followed by
yours truely somewhat disappointed, with long sleeves rolled up
to the elbows and words from Tommy ringing in my ears "makes
you look bigger Gazza".
You know, guys like Norm,Tom, Alf Brown,( who rarely missed a
game and sat in the coaches box, we used to say to keep Darky
McFarlane and Norm from running onto the oval in the fights) and
so many others were part of a great group of people who as I progressed
upwards through business, including spending over 10 years living
and working in Japan and Hong Kong, taught me so much about life,
loyalty, mateship and teamwork. I became a
better person and indeed a businessman because of those days.
By the way in 1970 I became Capt/Coach of Box Hill and played
against Coburg, coached by Micky Erwin who eventually defeated
us in the Grand Final. It was the first G.F. Box Hill had played
in, and at our last training night we couldn't believe the crowds
that turned up at the Box Hill Oval, thousands all wanting that
first flag. Unfortunately it didn't happen, but thats life, they
were times you never forget.
Well enough of the " good old days", I wish you all
the best. I was very impressed with your interview during the
week concerning victims of crime and the" mongrel",
(I don't have words in my vocabulary adequate to describe my contempt
for him) who murdered your sister and my anger at the judiciary
who have this naive belief in reforming and not sentencing according
to law. Not only do you do a great job commentating and publicising
suburban football, your crusading spirit is inspirational.