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The Last Hurrah?

It’s Saturday morning, 25th September. Grand Final Day. Victorian football fans are grieving that the MCG stands silent and empty. Two Melbourne teams will play off tonight in Perth. Brisbane did a great job hosting last year’s one-day-in-September and I’m sure Perth will put on a magnificent game.

I was a keen Melbourne fan back in 1964 when Neil Crompton snapped a late goal to give them the lead over Collingwood in the ‘grannie’. I also remember well the controversy that followed, with legendary coach Norm Smith leaving the club, and then, horror of horrors, Ron Barassi left for Carlton! As a ten-year old kid, I was devastated and my hatred of Carlton lasted for… well… let’s just say a long, long time.

Earlier this year, well before it was obvious that Melbourne would finish top of the ladder and get through to a Grand Final, Adam Woolcock published a book called “The Last Hurrah – Melbourne Premiers 1964.” The cover shows a jubilant Norm Smith celebrating the win with uncharacteristic flair and enthusiasm. Reading the book some months back was quite a nostalgia trip. We still have a few copies of the book in store but maybe the title will be incorrect by siren time tonight. Or it might be even more painfully relevant for Melbourne fans.

And, just to put the record straight, I gave up barracking for the hapless Demons in the 1980s when I became a Christian pastor. It just didn’t seem right to barrack for demons, so I switched to the St Kilda Saints. At least their club song is a variation of a Christian hymn! But sadly, their premiership drought continues.

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