I don’t watch grand finals. Never have. I don’t like the angles or the commentary or the crowd shots or the stupid continuous slow motion replays. I listen to the radio so I can track the action in my own mind. I’ve watched one grand final in twenty years and it’s the only one I can’t remember.
I took the boys to the indoor pool. They’d set it up with team balloons and the broadcast over the loudspeaker and after the first quarter we were the only ones there, plus the attendants and a few lane-swimming die-hards who barely raised their heads all afternoon, so it was our own private grand final pool party. William and I tossed tennis balls to each other and Tom practised his dives.
Half time came and with it the 'entertainment'. Someone had booked an entertainer by the name of Meatloaf. He used to be a singer. I thought it was just the pool loudspeakers, but when he sang, he sounded like a man having a heart attack and a nervous breakdown simultaneously, to save time. Or Brian Taylor doing an impersonation of Dermot Brereton doing a Meatloaf song. But later, others said the same. He was dreadful.
The entire music industry of Melbourne, perhaps Australia, could almost be heard uttering in chorus those three succinct, to-the-point words, so beautifully expressive and usually written as an acronym but I don’t like acronyms. What the fuck?
Here’s half a dozen better suggestions. Most of them are no longer with us, but being dead doesn’t mean they were a less likely choice than Meatloaf.
1. Johnny O’Keefe. Australia’s greatest rocker, a lost treasure who no-one remembers any more. Start with Come On and Take My Hand, through Wild One and Oop Oop Pah Doo (one of the great song titles) and end with a crowd duet of Mockingbird, a song he recorded with Margaret McLaren and which was a vastly better version than the James Taylor one. Mock – yeah! King - yeah! Bird – yeah! Yeah - yeah!
2. The Strangers. There’s no ‘l’ in that word. Melanie Makes Me Smile and Lady Scorpio just to get started. Lost classics both.
3. Max Merritt and the Meteors. Is Max still with us? His last song, the ballad Slippin' Away, was so big his earlier jazz-infused rockers are largely forgotten, such as the minor hit – or was it a B-side - Good Feelin’. The sax break’s a killer. Bring back the sax.
4. Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls. Reputedly the loudest band ever, pre-dating the stupid ‘stadium rock’ concept. Start the set with Mess of the Blues and go on from there. Speaking of loud:
5. Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. Had Thorpe ever performed at a grand final, the crowd wouldn’t want the football to resume. Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy into Movie Queen, then a ten-minute version of Oop Oop Pah Doo (as good a version as JOK's above) and then finish of with one of my personal Top 1000 Live Tracks to Hear Before You Die (it’s probably the Top 2 or 3 Live Tracks): the Sunbury 1972 recording of See See Rider. Football? What football? And now the greatest act of all:
6. Slim Dusty. Enough said.
Well it's lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night
Where the wild dingoes call
But there's nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear ...