HE WAS known as Captain Blood for his deeds on the field. But the great Jack Dyer won a far wider fan club when he got in front of a microphone and proceeded to butcher the English language. LAWRENCE MONEY has preserved some of his gems:
The Tigers are roaring in 2017. I wonder what words of encouragement the late Richmond champ Jack “Captain Blood” Dyer would offer? Captain Blood was never short of a comment during his brilliant career and that included a weekly column he wrote each footy season in the Truth newspaper.
Only Truth could have got away with the title: “Dyer ’ere”. Billy Picken was writing a column on the opposite page back then. That column was called “Picken Knows”. Yes, only Truth.
Captain Blood, who died 14 years ago, lives on in legend, a famous photo of him being the basis for the logo of Nine’s long-running Footy Show. There’s Jack, hands clamped on the ball as he glances ferociously downfield. The same photo appeared on a Richmond banner soon after he died in 2003, along with the words: “Heaven’s football team can now take the field because your captain has arrived.”
There was no one quite like Jack Dyer. In my Boot in Mouth collection over the years, Jack has always held a special place as a commentator. No-one murdered a metaphor, strangled a simile or clobbered a cliché like the captain. He was not a man overly concerned with syntax or grammar but his ability to drill down to the basics was unrivalled.
For example, where others might struggle to explain why a reliable ball-winner suddenly had an off-day, Jack had a catch-all phrase that always nailed it: “He’s where the ball ain’t.”
Forget about checking records when throwing personal stats into the ring. When marathon Tiger Kevin Bartlett kitted up for yet-another season years ago Jack simply explained: “Bartlett’s older than he’s ever been before.”
I met Jack only once. Shaking hands with him was like grabbing hold of a leg of lamb. He must have been a fierce opponent on the field — shades of Dusty Martin — and Jack’s transition to the microphone was inspired.
He discovered places in the world that not even National Geographic knew about – “the Black Hole of Dakota”, for example, or the famous Parisian boulevard, the “Champs Elsie”. Then there was the holiday he enjoyed with his wife on the “French Riverina”. Was it Jack who first alerted Italian pasta lovers to the joys of “spaghetti marijuana”?
While the increasing speed of the game caught some commentators short, Jack ploughed on regardless, producing such gems as:
“Things aren’t the same now there are five teams in the four.”
“Henshaw passes the ball to Kelly and Kelly gives a Henshaw to Glendinning (1982).
“It’s through the centre of the goalpost” (1983).
And, “He’s tuckled strongly by Tack.” (1983).
In 1983 Jack took out my Boot In Mouth award with his comment about a Melbourne player’s remarkable quinella: “Bamblett made a great debut last week, and an even better one today.”
It must be conceded that the Captain did have some trouble in the commentary booth when some of the trickier foreign surnames began coming into the game but his old mate Ian Major was always there to bail him out.
The Captain: “The ball goes to Marceesie, er, Marcheson, um, McKann, ahhhrrr”
The Major: “Actually Jack, I don’t think Marchesani was in that passage of play.”
No, there was no-one quite like Captain Blood. He once declared: “I won’t say anything in case I say something.” We’re all so glad he ignored his own advice.
Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria's best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age -- and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines -- before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.