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Discordant Notes

Journal of Australian Studies 88
Bart Ziino Who Owns Gallipoli? Australia's Gallipoli Anxieties 1915-2005, Sue Lovell, 'Dew to the Soul': One Australian Artist's Response to War, Peter Kirkpatrick Hunting the Wild Reciter: Elocution and the Art of Recitation, Felicity Plunkett 'You Make Me a Dot in the Nowhere': Textual Encounters in the Australian Immigration Story (the Fourth Chapter), Bridget Griffen-Foley From the Murrumbidgee to Mamma Lena: Foreign Language Broadcasting on Australian Commercial Radio, Part I, Emily Pollnitz ...
Thursday, 24th April 2014
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Altitude BirdIssue 44
Features reviews by Kathleen Broderick, Linn Miller, Christine Choo, Bill Thorpe, David Ritter, Eve Vincent, Stephanie Bishop, Alison Miles, Richard Kay, Amanda Day, Bernard Whimpress, Mads Clausen, Marion May Campbell, Sylvia Alston, Catie Gilchrist, Eva Chapman, Lucy Dougan, Stephen Lawrence and Nathanael O'Reilly. Click here for more details.


Altitude

Altitude BirdPopular Music: Practices, Formations and Change - Australian Perspectives
The papers collected here in this special edition of Altitude offer a brief snapshot of popular music research broadly connected with Australia. The essays demonstrate the variety of theoretical and methodological approaches used by researchers in the fields of popular music studies and cultural studies to explore themes of popular music practice, formation and change in an Australian context. Click here for more details.



 
 
 
 

Way to Go: Sadness, Euphoria and the Fremantle Dockers

By Matt Price, Fremantle: FACP, 2004, 240 pages, paperback, . Reviewed by Toby Burrows in the July 2004 issue.

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Fremantle coach Chris Connolly had refused to say the F word, but in the last game of the 2003 season a crowd of more than 30,000 at Subiaco Oval chanted it for him: 'Fi-nals! Fi-nals! Fi-nals!' The Fremantle Dockers were on their way to their first finals match after nine years of trying. In the event, the final itself was a complete anti-climax, with the Dockers being soundly beaten, but it marked the coming of age of a team which had been consistently unsuccessful up to that point.

When they joined the AFL in 1995, the Dockers were saddled with a silly club song ('Freo, heave-ho...'), a garish colour scheme (green, white and purple) and a ludicrous emblem -- the anchor, which was ritually rolled out on to the ground before each home game. With a succession of amiable, if eccentric, coaches and a player list ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, the Dockers only managed to win 30 per cent of their games in their first eight years. The nadir was reached in 2001 when they lost seventeen games in a row and only managed two wins for the entire season.

Despite all this -- or perhaps because of it -- the Dockers have attracted a devoted following which is beginning to rival that of their arch-enemies, the West Coast Eagles. Matt Price is one of those devotees who has followed Freo through the years of anguish, frustration, disaster, and all too occasional euphoria. As a journalist for The Australian in Canberra, he even has the opportunity to try and explain the Dockers to the rest of a bemused country, through his weekly column 'Left Field'.

He cheerfully admits to having no serious credentials for writing this book. It's a fan's account of the lows and infrequent highs brought on by his obsession -- a none too serious attempt to explain what it is about the Dockers which creates such enduring loyalty among their supporters. There are the exhilarating, unexpected wins over highly fancied teams -- and the bumbling losses to lowly opponents. There are the players for whom 'mercurial' is too mild a word, exemplified by Clive Waterhouse with his brilliant long-distance goals and his Amazing Armless Marking Attempts.

Above all, there are the robotic but highly successful Eagles and their dour and grumpy coach Mick Malthouse, later to become a defender of old-growth forests and to undergo a personality transplant and re-emerge as cute and cuddly. Price plays up the rivalry between the two Perth clubs, even to the point of getting Malthouse to write a diplomatic foreword. But his caricaturing of Eagles' fans as diffident chardonnay-quaffers from the Western Suburbs and Dockers' fans as rougher, more passionate diehards does tend to wear thin after a while.

This is an amusing, entertaining and more than a little daft account of an obsession, enlivened by a journalist's eye for the funny, the bizarre and the pointed anecdote. Price says he was driven by a feeling that Fremantle's blackest years should be chronicled for posterity, and he has certainly done exactly that with humour and affection. Just don't expect too much in the way of serious analysis. But, for all his insights into the sadness and euphoria of following the Dockers, I'm not convinced that he has fully grasped one of the main reasons for their peculiar and enduring appeal. In an era of highly professionalised and commercial football, the Dockers have stood out for their amateurishness and their all-too-human qualities. Their capacity for combining unexpected victories and brilliant play with inept and comical bungling against mediocre opponents has endeared them to their fans in a way that other teams cannot emulate. In today's AFL, the Freo Dockers don't quite fit the mould imposed by the marketing men. That may well be their real gift to posterity.

Citation

  • Toby Burrows. 'Review: Way to Go: Sadness, Euphoria and the Fremantle Dockers by Matt Price' [online]. Network Review of Books (Perth, Australian Public Intellectual Network), July 2004. Availability: <please cite the web address here> ISSN 1833-0932. [accessed 24 April 2014].

Back Cover Blurb

  • 'Matt Price is a cheeky bugger ... but I suspect Matt's book will strike a chord in all footy fans and players ... perhaps even the odd AFL coach. Those of us who dedicate our lives to football live for those euphoric moments, and suffer plenty of sadness along the journey. In between there is pain, laughter, frustration, hard work, disappointment, friendship, argument, agonising and plenty more ... in other words, life. You'll get a sense of all of this from Matt's book, especially if you give some of his wilder theories the OLD HEAVE HO'. - Mick Malthouse

Have You Also Read?

  • Peripheral light: Selected and New Poems

    imageJohn Kinsella, Fremantle: FACP, 2003, 194 Pages, Paperback, $$27.95
    Reviewed by Mark Mahemoff in the June 2004 issue.

    '...he frequently makes me think of John Ashbery...' Harold Bloom John Kinsella is an enigma. Here is a man who has managed to publish twenty books of poetry and prose before the age of forty-five. He has co-opted Harold Bloom and the American book publisher WW Norton to edit, support and release this book: a coup for an Australian poet. Eminent international figures have written puff pieces for it (interestingly, no Australians.) But having read it, I'm left stumped. It is not that he is unable to write a good poem. It's just that there are a number of other Australian poets who have written much less but of a consistently higher quality. Where other people would have been more ... read more.
     



 
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NRB July 2004

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