Barassi tops the menu 

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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?


AT Carlton, the birth of a baby boy has given the Blues good reason to become wild about Harry again. The boy named Harry Caspar has revived the memory of one of the club’s most controversial characters. Parents Brendan and Nicole Caspar named him after his late great grandfather, who remains a major figure in football tribunal folklore. The tough defender, who played 58 games, was involved in a dust-up with Essendon’s champion goalkicker John Coleman in the final round of the 1951 season and both players were suspended for four matches. Coleman, who had led the Bombers to successive flags, was outed for retaliating and missed the finals. In dramatic scenes, he left the tribunal hearing in tears as the Bombers premiership hopes went into meltdown. Without Coleman’s goals Essendon lost the Grand Final to Geelong and even many non-Bomber fans still blame Harry Caspar for the loss. There are now 23 grandchildren and four great grandchildren in the Caspar clan on the Mornington Peninsula but this is the first named Harry. The family is naturally very excited that the swashbuckling Carlton great’s legend will live on through his namesake.


NO Archibald Prize for this portrait of yours truly, but Collingwood fans might give it a second glance considering its close Magpie premiership connection. The painter is the multi-talented Kathy Delanty, the daughter of the Magpies 1958 premiership half-back Mike. Tall and stunning, Kathy was a former Sale of the Century model before she followed her late mother Pat into the arts field. She chose my ugly mush as a subject after a friendship which began years before when I had her photograph taken for the Sunday Press. She totally surprised me with the work which included my beloved, battered typewriter souvenired from the newspaper when I left. (Let’s hope the security boys don’t come looking). Apart from her early modelling success, Kathy is kept busy as a jazz singer and also a clairvoyant. No, she doesn’t see a Magpie flag on the horizon.


ONE man sure to be taking a keen interest in the renaissance of The Footy Show is its originator, renowned ex-Nine boss Ian Johnson. He’s the visionary who poached Eddie McGuire from Channel 10 in 1994, believing a prime-time sports show would work if it had a special entertainment element.  The Footy Show would be based on the long successful sportsman’s night concept with a wider audience appeal to women and families. It envisaged opening the dressing room door of the male-dominated world of footy and allowing women and outsiders a look in. With McGuire and Sam Newman at the helm, it worked wonders. Johnson watched as ratings soared with viewing audiences of 600,000. Johnson is now retired after a stint at Channel 7, but he has been riding the bumps with the controversial program he helped set in motion. He was hoping for a saviour and probably thinks he has one with McGuire returning as host.


TO celebrate winning the rugby world sevens, the Fijian government has released a $7 note. It features a team photo.





COLLINGWOOD squandered a 50-point lead at the MCG last Sunday, coming away with only a draw against Adelaide, but the Magpies were still big winners in one respect.

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.


THEY say ruckmen are dumb, but the Hawks website has revealed that Ben McEvoy and Marc Pittonet both had VCE Enter scores in the mid-90s.


Author: Scot Palmer

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!).



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