PROCLAMATIONS, PRONOUNCEMENTS, PREDILECTIONS – SCOT PALMER’S Punchlines discovers hairy Demon ruckman “Bull” Baker is the toast of Tassie as a restaurateur, Bomber Alec Epis has struck gold as a vintner, and Carlton is celebrating the birth of a second Harry Caspar.
AS a shaggy-haired and bearded Melbourne ruckman Garry Baker has always revered the most illustrious Demon, Ronald Dale Barassi. Now as one of Tasmania’s foremost restaurateurs, Baker has named his signature dish after the master coach. It’s an eye fillet steak stuffed with some of the Apple Isle’s finest blue cheese, which he says just oozes from within. Baker even has Barassi as one of his partners in the Hobart Battery Point eatery, an historic sandstone warehouse conversion on Salamanca Place called Rockwall. He has a second high-end spot at Moonah called St Albi and leases out three other establishments. To say he has done well is an understatement. The former Demon nicknamed “Bull”, who also played a smattering of games for Footscray and Sydney, now employs 60 staff and has 13 chefs. “Ï live in God’s own country. Tassie has been magic for me,” he told Punchlines when in Melbourne recently for the Footscray Past Players night. He has now spent 30 years in the hotel and restaurant business and raves about the local seafood. “Our food must be okay,” Baker said, insisting that his Bruny Island oysters are shucked every day. “We’ve attracted the last three Prime Ministers as well as Test cricket teams.”
ANOTHER former footballer striking gold this year is the irrepressible Alessandro Angelo Epis, or just Alec or “Kookaburra” for short. Epis is today one of Victoria’s most admired wine growers with his pinot noir taking out three gold medals at tastings this year. His most select drop has also just won a spot on the menu of a showcase Sydney restaurant while the chardy he produces in that rich Macedon Ranges dirt is most palatable. This Essendon character no longer has any official ties with his beloved club. That’s a crying shame because I’ve never known a player so engrossed in his club and willing to do its bidding. Just the other day he wrote a letter of encouragement to young Bomber forward Orazio Fantasia. Epis reminded him that he was also a kid of Italian origin who came from interstate to play footy and make his name. Fantasia hails from South Australia and Epis from Boulder in WA. He played in Essendon flag-winning teams in 1962 and 1965 and is a member of the club Hall of Fame.
After 180 games, he became a club committeeman, chairman of selectors and board member. But it was his mentoring role with young players that always impressed me. How many clubmen go out of their way to write letters to teenage Bomber draftees welcoming them to Essendon?
Of the 30 votes awarded by coaches Don Pyke and Nathan Buckley, Magpies collected 27 – Daniel Wells 10, Taylor Adams and Steele Sidebottom seven each and Jeremy Howe three.
Brodie Smith was the only Crow to get votes – three. Perhaps Pyke, despite publicly praising his side’s persistence, was privately very dark on his players. The Pies had a handful of stars but lots of gaping holes when the floodgates opened.
VERY few personalities are as well known in the world of sport as SCOT PALMER. He was a fine sportswriter on The Sun News-Pictorial and a news-breaking Sports Editor on the Sunday Press, Sunday Sun and Sunday Herald Sun. But he was best known for his famous column, Palmer’s Punchlines, which ran for a record 25 years or more (he’s lost count!).