CHIPS COMES CLEAN

Having recently been shown by Mrs Chips (on one of her occasional sabbaticals from the Ladies Seniors World Golf Tour) how to use email, I was delighted to receive the Lugar last week. I read it for the first time, though evidently, it has been published for quite some years.

I must say that I have now been well and truly outdone by Terry Landrigan, who now seems to the favourite and favoured 'oldie' at the club. Attending the Maytime Fair last week, I was shocked to hear so many ask me about Terry's whereabouts. "It's a shame he can't make it", "I'm sure he's too busy for us these days" and "Isn't it great that someone his age is still involved." The last comment rankled a bit, given that he's my junior by about 40 years. 

The biggest reminder that any fame I once enjoyed had flown was when Pinky Hamilton told me it was a shame I wasn't writing any more on the club website. The editor informs he is not alone in ignoring my scribbling. Stories of the strap, Latin verbs and good Bordeaux are no longer in vogue these days, it seems.

Women's football is, happily, and I watched the WOX with great intent last Saturday.  They weren't good enough, but these things will take some time. Still, the men weren't much chop in our first season of 1923, as I recall, though I suspect the lack of a Friday night curfew had something to do with that. And beer on the tram on the way to the game was not a good look. 

Last week, I missed the men's big re-match with the Grasshoppers, and from all reports, the Red and Blacks saved their best for last and pinched a close one.

Close that might have been, but some of the Premier games this week won't be. De La Salle meet Beaumaris at Waverley Park. I forget. Is that the place it always rains, or was that the Waverley Park built by Sir Kenneth Luke? In any case, for Beauy, as the saying goes: Long trip there, longer trip home. Of course, I am wrong about these things occasionally.

St Bart's are again at Uni Oval and one wonders whether they didn't remain there all week for a taste of the varsity life. They scored a win against the better Uni team last week, but might struggle to repeat the dose against the Blacks. I pick the home team.

The Blues take their loss and move to the old Trotting Track to meet with Melburnians. On form, it could be a dour struggle, but one senses the Blues have more weapons. Hardly anyone can stop that Tommy Girdwood bloke and I think he'll lead the Varsity to victory.

Collegians have a real test against Trinity. Or is that the other way around? This one is on the big Bulleen ground, a hard place to play and an even harder place to watch for those with poor eyes like me. You'd have to pick the Lions on form, unbeaten and facing a team that has lost two in a row. Purple, I think, but the cats will be among the pigeons if the Hedgeburners are on form.

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That leaves the big one. 

This week I will be at TH King for the clash with St Kevin's.

Happily, longtime Xavs' supporter Commo McCormack is in my corner and has invited me as a guest to the big SK lunch. Commo, it transpires, has been offered a freebie as the Kevs celebrate the reunion of the 2001 team, which defeated Xavs in the first semi-final. Yes, you remember the one, where he was the timekeeper and the last quarter went for 37 minutes, just enough time for the Kevs to boot the winning goal.

Now Commo has copped lots over the years, but he's taken it all without revealing the truth. now, at long last, I must fess up to being the real culprit. You see, the great man rapped on the glass of the Elsternwick timekeeper's box early in the final term and ask me to fill in while he visited the bathroom.

"I've had a bad Wick Burger," he told me, "but I shouldn't be long."

He was away a little longer than he intended. Not that we noticed. The St Kevin's fellow was talking to me in Latin, asking me about my teaching days and neither of noticed that our clocks were stopped. The story that has prevailed through the years is that the umps kept blowing time on and the timekeepers kept hitting the button for time-on.

Not true. We chatted for what seemed an age and the discussion held our interest much better than did the game. Not that it worried us. I knew Xavs would win and he knew that Kevs would lose. After six straight premierships, that was the natural order of things.

Commo returned in what seemed like no time at all, but he later told me that he was locked in the ancient and honourable bathroom. Here was a man in a dreadful hurry. "What are you blokes doing," he roared. "My wrist watch says 37 minutes and counting. Sound the bloody siren and let's go and have a cold one."

I did just that. It was only then that dear Commo glanced up a the scoreboard to see that Old Xaverians had lost. "Oh well," I reasoned with him, "these things happen once in a while."

Commo gave me that look of anger, mixed with disappointment and trudged off. We didn't speak for a long while, but it's now been so long since the Red and Blacks lost to St Kevin's that the incident has been all but forgotten.

However, this week, when he called to invite me to lunch, he told me things are different these days. "SKOB has a wonderful team and our blokes will need to be good."

"Tell me more," I asked.

"Well, they have Jamar and Salopek and Schulz," he began, rattling off names that I've never heard.

"But we have Curtain and Pirrie and whoever. We'll be right."

"Yes we will, Chips. I'm looking forward to the lunch and looking forward to the game. Perhaps you'd like to join me in the timekeeper's box and ensure we get it right this time," he asked.

I can't think of a better place to watch a close game.