Harmsy's Handle - AFL Round 4

Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Colleen Petch/Herald Sun
John Harms can't wait for the unbeaten Hawks and Cats clash Easter Monday. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Herald Sun
AFL Round 4 - Harmsy's Handle

I live on a street that people walk along. Dog-walkers. Pram-pushers. Lovers. Elderly Greeks taking in the fresh air, having spent the day on the plastic chair in the front garden. It’s busy because there’s a train station at one end, a tram stop at the other, homes with young children, and a pub on the corner (with bottle-o and TAB). It’s a very friendly street.

We’re a few train stops from the MCG.

Saturday afternoon. I’ve got the kids out the front on their scooters. Up the end of the footpath, walking forlornly from the station comes young Sebastian. Bas is a six year-old Carlton supporter. As he gets closer he looks shattered. He doesn’t want to talk. He bolts straight in his front door.

Fifty metres behind is his father, Ken. Half-grimacing, shaking his head, but half-laughing as well. Ken is a lifelong, loyal Melbourne supporter.

“Ouch!” I say. “How’s little Bas?”

“Not good,” says Ken, trying not to grin.


“Yep, tears.”

“How are you going?” I ask.

“I’m fantastic. The Dees were brilliant,” he says. “It’s an interesting thing,” Ken continues. “Secretly going ‘Yes, Yes, Yes,’ while supporting your young bloke.”

“Supporting?” I ask.

“Trying to.”

We discuss Chris Dawes and structure; Frawley going forward; Jones job on Murphy; and the general spirit and energy, all the while enjoying the demise of Carlton.

A Melbourne couple (with scarves, caps, badges), off the following train, are heading towards the pub, to celebrate. “Great win,” I say.

“Great win,” says the 20-something woman, and it’s enough for them to stay and chat. She is radiant. Glowing. Rosy-cheeked. Almost calling for a cigarette. They are like kids who’ve walked out of The Lego Movie and want to tell you the whole story in a moment. “And then…And then…And then.”

Her phone rings. It’s her father. The conversation brings her to tears. We bid them farewell.

Cars come and go. Blokes are here to collect and re-invest. It’s been an OK day on the punt. The faves have won the first two legs of the Randwick quaddie. Criterion got the job done. Lankan Rupee was just brilliant, his acceleration something to behold, even after being hunted up early.

Crikey, even I’m alive. And I’ve got the field. The black Sanyo, so old you can’t quite get it on the station, sits on the clinker bricks of Ken’s wonky fence. I want the roughest result possible. But, as is the rule in racing, a fave gets up. Arabian Gold is too good.

I can’t complain.

I have a small collect. But not on the footy.

The multi is a great thing. Especially in footy investing. And there’s a stack of punters who have mucked around with Collingwood, Hawthorn, Geelong, and Port Adelaide, and combinations thereof. They all look like solid winners. And, of course, Carlton at the $1-nothing. The Blues can’t lose. Why wouldn’t you throw Carlton on the end of every bet you have on the day, just to add the multiplying factor.

Why wouldn’t you? 

Because they’re bloody Carlton, and they are absolute rubbish at the moment!

We’ve spent the week talking about what rubbish they are, listening to the Carlton faithful go nuts; we’ve watched them drop J. Waite and J. Garlett. As my neighbour on the other side, Tommy, 74 years old says, “They’re no good, Carlton.” And he barracks for them.

Yet we’re willing to take them at 20/1 on.

I did. Bump-bah.

This is the sort of lunacy which demands TABs employ a door-person who stands there with two branding irons and, if you have a footy multi, calls you over. “Have you got Carlton in that multi sir?”


“Forehead or bum, sir?”



“You choose.”

No doubt some left Carlton out. But it’s all good for footy.

Blues and Tigers recriminations are hot in Melbourne as I type. Of the others, Freo and Port are going to deal with most opposition at home with a leg in the air. The Hawks were mighty powerful on Saturday on the Gold Coast, while 2,000 kilometres away in Geelong, the Cats dissembled an under-manned West Coast.
This sets up Easter Monday as yet another potential classic between the great rivals. Hawthorn will be warm favourites, and deserve to be. But how can I resist my beloved Cats , and itching to see the line.

Already the year has had its upsets.

But that won’t stop us with the multis – just make sure you sack the Blues! 

John Harms is editor of footyalmanac.com.au