On September 10th, club members were treated to an entertaining and informative talk by popular author and journalist, John Harms. Harms has written several books including the biography of Michelle Payne. Read details of John's talk and get further links by clicking, "Read more..."
John's first book was "Confessions of a Thirteenth Man" written after John attended the 1998 Ashes tour in England. he followed up with "Memoirs of a Mug Punter" and "Loose men Everywhere" about the football club of Geelong. After he moved to Melbourne, he noticed there wasn't a lot of football fan writing in the papers, so he suggested to "The Age" that he do a column on the oldest surviving footballers in each club and the newspaper was glad to take him on. John recounts that one of his most interesting stories concerned North Melbourne player, Ted Ellis, who was 92 when he was interviewed. Ellis taught John a number of fascinating Australian colloquial sayings. Ted told John that he started life "on the wallaby" (i.e. as a swaggie") in the Riverina. Along the journey, he developed the skills of football and fighting. After being spotted by a talent scout and brought to Melbourne to play football, Ted kicked 32 goals in his first game! Whilst playing for North Melbourne, Ted confronted Collingwood player, Albert Collier who abused Ted by calling "his mother a bastard". Ted said, "Well I just "sat-'im-down" on the spot." In 2007, Harms started writing "The Footy Almanac" and has produced an annual edition for the past 13 years. The book has now turned into a web site that publishes stories of amateur contributors and to this day has published 22,500 pieces (see the links below). In the December after the 2015 Melbourne Cup, John was commissioned to write the auto-biography of Michelle Payne and it was a challenging task because Michelle was not readily available for interviews - she didn't drive and she had many appointments. So John drove her to her appointments and interviewed her on the way. The book had to be around 75,000 words and the publishers wanted it by February. So John set his alarm at 5.11AM every day for 8 weeks and wrote 1200 words before 9am, had a break and then wrote 2000 words for the rest of the day. The book went to the printers in April, 2016 and was published in May. John reported that the book has been very well accepted and he puts that down to it being a "Fighting back" book which characterizes much of his sports writing - the act of achieving against great odds. John summed it up by saying, "Sport isn't important in itself, but it points to the things that are"
Here are a few links:
The Footy Almanac website:
Some of John's writing:
Some thoughts from critics about John's first three books:
John's email address if you want to sent an item to the almanac: