Mr Chips is a longtime school master, who taught at Xavier for over 50 years. Once a regular contributor to the Old Xavs website, he has been invited to write again on a trial basis. Judging from his efforts here, that trial might be a very short one. Still, it is early in the season . . .

I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I’m back in demand. I hear the Old Xaverians are back on top (for now) and apparently are starting a new website. And they’ve asked me to contribute more often than I have in recent times.



“I am not sure about much these days”, I told Gavan Woodruff, who dropped by last week to poke around in my cellar for a few Bordeaux first growths. “Have a crack at a few of the 1961s,” I advised. “A brilliant year, the same year I handed in my notice after a lifetime at Xavier, teaching Latin and doling out corporal punishment to the wayward boys.”

“Do you regret applying the strap at all,” Gavan asked me.

“It was all part of the process back then, Woody, and it kept my right bicep in good shape. But I was more the wristy singles type rather than a slogger who swung for the fences. Anyway, I never laid leather on a footballer, which was pretty much everyone at the school in those days.”

I added that I had always been a great believer in sport.

"Sport, sport, masculine sport, equips a young man for society, yes sport turns out a jolly good sort, it's an odd boy who doesn't like sport."

Gavan looked at me rather quizically. Woody, of course, received his life membership of the Xavs last September, and he sat down to fill me in on recent events. “If you are going to write about football again, you need to do some catching up,” he told me.

Well, it’s a week later, and I remember little of the conversation, during which we savoured both a ’61 Chateau Haut Brion and a ’61 Chateau Palmer.

But I do recall Gavin was very forthcoming on the rise of the legend of Terry Landrigan.

“Is that the same bloke who toddled off to OMs with his son Denis a few years back?” I asked.

“One and the same”, Gav told me. “These days, Terry specialises in growing facial hair and buying expensive coat hangers for the jumpers. He came back to the Xavs because Jack Bowen gave him a vintage station wagon to cart around the club’s gear.”

I do remember teaching the young Jack Bowen. He couldn’t conjugate a Latin verb to save his life. Nice fellow, though. I remember telling him he should go to university or things wouldn’t turn out too well. I think I might have been wrong on that one.

And Gavin told me about Rob Ralph and how they booted him off the committee after 30 years and how he’s now trying to take over the Richmond Football Club. “Yes”, I responded, “the Ralph family has been trying to do that for years.”

Anyway, enough of that, as I have been asked to look at this week’s games. Of course, my knowledge is a bit scant, because the Ammos some years ago deleted me from their Amateur Footballer mail out list.

So I will go on memory, which might be somewhat fuzzy.

De La Salle play Xavs and I’d love to get there. However, it’s a night game, so I’ll stay home and listen to that wild Kenny Petrucco describe the action on Inner FM radio. Is Bernie Sheehy still coaching De La? I remember they played in a grand final some years back, but not much else. I know they had a few Xavier boys play some football there, including Peter McDonnell. Is he the same bloke coaching the red and blacks this year? Must have a chat with Peter Rhoden to catch up on the latest. Frankly, it’s hard to find a winner in the darkness, but I must stay confident. Xavs in a close one.

Collegians play St Bede’s/Mentone Tigers. Well, for me, this is a case of the familiar versus the unknown. I know the Old Wesleyans through my old counterpart L A Adamson, and I’ve never heard much of the other club except that Footscray coach Luke Beveridge coached there too. They must be OK, but I am with the Lions. Geoff and Lex Hibbins will be too hard to stop.

Uni Blues are playing St Kevin’s. Last time I took any notice of Kevs was their first semi-final win over Xavs in a 46 minute last quarter. Not sure they have done too much since, but I am hearing whispers they have picked up some blokes that I’ve seen on TV over the years. Maybe even Brian Taylor. However, I suspect John Kanis will get his Uni team over the line here. One can’t under-estimate the Greying Mantis and all the tricks he has up his sleeve. Blues for mine.

Old Trinity head for the Uni to meet Uni Blacks. What? When did that happen? I remember them winning a flag years ago, but then I thought they tumbled down through the sections. They’re back, apparently. As for Old Trinity, I’m told they are strong these days and unless Simon Costello can turn it on big time, I can’t see them toppling the Grasshoppers.

Old Melburnians are still at the caper and meet Beaumaris. All I know about the latter is that it’s the suburb after Sandringham and that some of the Pirrie family used to live there. I know nothing of them as an Amateur team. Weren’t they in the Federal League or some such? If Ian Cordner and Rick Pisarski fire, it's surely curtains for the Baysiders.

Anyway, what do I know at this early stage of the season? The VAFA has changed so much since Jack Dillon recently took over the Presidency. Good to hear that he and Association secretary Jack Fullerton are still running a tight ship.

Good luck to all teams. And the best of luck to the Xavs.