CHIPS (ON HIS SHOULDER)

I had a call from Peter Rhoden this week asking if I could lift my game. 

"Chips, you once had a regular readership, a large readership, but the editor of the new website informs me that your numbers are lagging somewhat and that more people these days prefer to read about current players rather than has-beens," Porky told me.

That set me back on my heels a bit. So I called the editor and asked him for the brutal truth.

"Yes and no, Mr Chips. Your analytics don't stack up, but neither do any of the pieces about the current senior players. It looks very much like that the only thing anyone is interested in reading about in 2017 is women's football. The top-rating stories are all about the girls this year," he told me.

So I called Mr Rhoden back and all he wanted to do was change the subject.

"I was thinking that you mightn't want to trek down to Mentone this Saturday, but rather toddle on out with me to your old stamping ground at Barkers road to watch the First XVIII."

"Nice try, Porky, but I am well aware that the XVIII is due to play Scotch. And you are just as aware that I haven't spoken to you at a Scotch game of any sort for, what is it now, nearly 58 years."

"You can't let me forget it, can you Chips? Old Scotch beats the Old Xavs in a final in 1959, and despite never losing a final to the Cardinals since, you won't let it go! Surely it's been long enough," Porky pleaded.

"Two things, Peter. Firstly, you were part of that horror, and you've never lived it down. Secondly, I will talk to you any other day over a cup of tea or a bottle of Cos d'Estournel, but i will not risk breaking the magnificent spell we have over those Red Men," I replied firmly.

"And when the Old Xavs meet Old Scotch this year, you and I will not be sharing any conversations," i added, intending to close the matter.

"Er, Chips, I'm not sure where you have been, but Old Scotch are playing in B Section these days, so that won't be happening. 

"Yes, I am up with that news, but I know there are U19 games, Thirds games and the like, so we will continue our radio silence.

Again, Rhoden changed the subject.

"OK Chips, so this weekend is out. What did you think about Landrigan knocking over Dillon for the all-time games record? 

"You have me there, Peter. Tony Landrigan, eh? How about that. I wasn't aware he was still playing."

"No Chips, the other one," he replied, showing a little testiness.

"Ah, Dennis Landrigan. The one who took off to OMs and came back with Terry the team manager. He must be forty by now.

"Well, add a few years and you'd be right."

"That's all very well, Peter. It's great that he is still involved, as I understand his daughter Holly is a star player already and on a Form Four for the Red 'n' Blacks. She will be ready in a year or two to star with the OX Women.

Courtesy: SURSUM CORDA ARCHIVE

Courtesy: SURSUM CORDA ARCHIVE

When I designed the Xavier College football jumper in 1898, I never conceived that women would wear it one day, though Mrs Chips did predict it in about 1930. Anyway, nice chatting, and we will get together next week," I finished, then hung up.

Enough of him. On to a look at this week's games in the men's top tier.

Those Lions are roaring as in days of old - they still hold the record for the most premierships in A Section, though admittedly, most of them came pretty early in the piece. Still, this stands up well when they play a team that has never won one. It might be a long drive to Beaumaris, but a longer one back if Stevie Milne gets going. Mind you, he'd need to kick eight or ten to help the Sharks over the line. At this stage, I'm not writing off Beauy, but the Purples do look very strong.

Old Melburnians frightened the life out of me (and Xavs) last week, and they are again at the Old Trotting Course. De La Salle comes in at no wins and two losses, and I suspect they will not be visiting the winner's enclosure. The Dark Blues might be a real threat this year, but I am not as sanguine about the Sallies.

St Kevin's are riding high but must face Trinity this weekend. Both teams wear green and yellow, with Kevs also wearing some blue. I suspect that the Ts might be a little blue themselves, as the tight confines of the King will not suit the team that loves to run. Daley Oval this is not.

The Honourable John Carmody, formerly a Uni Blues and Old Xaverians player, has invited me to the University Derby this weekend and the thought of a long lunch has some appeal. I have found over the years that these showdowns between the two Varsity clubs suffer a bit in comparison with other clashes. Tough, hard, uncompromising but rarely a shootout, and not all that fan-friendly. On form, it has to be the Blue half of the place that will prevail, though I'm not discarding the credentials of the Blacks (other than their spurious claim to be the greatest name in amateur football).

That leaves the Mentone team to take on Old Xaverians. I am not sure the Austin will make it all the way down Warragul Road, so I will settle for listening to Ken Petrucco describe the action on the radio. Kenny is the modern day Doug Bigelow - incisive, accurate and uses words sparingly - and is the real hard man of the microphone. I'm hoping he has plenty of good things to say about my Red 'n' Blacks. It's tough to win down there and the Tigers are tough as nails.

On Sunday, I will be headed to Xavier College to see the Ladies play the Lady Tonners. This, I am told, is an important clash, as the brass will gather at the Old Trotting Track on Sunday night to determine gradings for the rest of the year. I have no doubt that the Young Ones will prevail over the invaders from Old Brighton.

As always, we shall see in the fullness of time.