When editors issue a challenge, you have little choice but to nod, “Yes,” says KEN PIESSE who covered League footy in Melbourne from 1975-2008:
Footy writers love an exclusive, especially in this day-and-age of mega-competition amongst the 1,500 or so writers and commentators who hold AFL media accreditation in 2017.
In days gone by when the Footy Writers had our own “Byline Bar” in Alfred Place and on Friday nights, our President Geoff Poulter would unleash his signature John Kennedy impressions (once famously with John present: Kanga said Poults was better than him), our membership of the Footy Writers Association numbered less than 35.
A few of the younger ones, like Bruce “Narra” Matthews from The Herald trained one pre-season night with South Melbourne, then coached by Ian Stewart.
Greg Hobbs was editing the pink paper, the Sporting Globe, back then and knowing I’d just finished a season of football at Beaumaris, suggested while I was in Adelaide for the Ashes Test, why don’t I drop in on North Melbourne’s summertime training and have a run with Ron Barassi’s boys.
Ray Jamieson accompanied me to take the photos.
Barass welcomed me and playfully punched me in the rib cage.
“Where’s your six pack?” he asked.
“It’s back at the pub cooling down,” I said.
“Righto lads,” he said, “Let’s welcome Ken Piesse-de-resistance… let’s do something different …”
Looking across at Mick Nolan, who was making a rare appearance at pre-season, he said: “Mick, you take him… Piesse, you piggyback Mick!’
And around the ground Mick and I went, with “Bluey” Jamieson running after us, laughing as hard as everyone else.
Photos taken, I finally got Mick off my back. He weighed all of his 17 and a half stone, I can assure you.
It made the back page of the mid-week Globe and cured me once and for all from ever volunteering to train with anyone ever again.
- Ken Piesse’s last game of footy was a press match between The Age and The Herald at the Punt Rd. Oval. He rucked against Graham John, who kept on whacking him at the bounces. After a ton of red wine one night at the footy writers’ annual dinner at Carlton, Piesse challenged “Crackers” Keenan to a joust in the Princes Park car park. Happily, for all, Crackers said no.
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. Despite that setback, Ken has written, published and edited 86 books on cricket and AFL football to become Australian sport’s most prolific author.
His latest cricket book is David Warner, The Bull, Daring to be Different with Wilkinson Publishing, out now