Bob’s mum – the passionate Magpies fan

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Sunday columnist Peter Leith is 89. He’s seen a lot of the world, a lot of Australia, and a lot of life. In addition to his observations and real short stories, he has started an occasional series broadly titled Vanishing Australia.


In the early-1950s in Adelaide, not many young men owned or had the use of a car. My mate Bob, with whom I shared a house, was an exception. He was a rep for a wholesale tobacconist.

One Saturday, he arranged to take me and his elderly mum to my first-ever Aussie Rules footy match. The Port Adelaide Magpies were playing arch rivals the Norwood Red Legs at the Adelaide Oval.

Bob warned me his mum was a “one-eyed Port barracker”.

We duly picked up this softly spoken, tiny lady. She was neatly dressed, complete with hat, gloves, large handbag and a tightly rolled umbrella.

At the oval, we escorted Bob’s mum to the southern stand, saw her seated and then Bob said: “Pick you up after the final siren, Mum.” He took me by the arm and led me away towards the scoreboard hill at the other end of the ground.

“Why are we leaving your mum on her own?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, “she gets a bit carried away. If someone near her is barracking for the other team and says something she doesn’t like, she either pokes them or hits them with her umbrella and then the shouting starts!”

“But shouldn’t we be there to protect her?” I asked.

“Nah,” said Bob, “nobody at the footy hits a little old lady, but if I’m with her, they don’t seem to mind hitting me!”

Do you have an idea for Peter’s Vanishing Australia series? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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