AFL Record magazine

The Rat Pack

AFL Record, Grand Final edition, September 30, 2017

A long lunch with three members of Collingwood's notorious 'Rat Pack' – Dane Swan, Alan Didak and Ben Johnson – for their first group interview. With a little luck, Heath Shaw and Chris Tarrant would also have been there. It's a walk on footy's wild side.


The Mosquito Fleet

AFL Record, Grand Final edition, October 3, 2015

A long lunch with six members of Carlton's famed 'Mosquito Fleet' – Jimmy Buckley, Wayne Johnston, Wayne Harmes, Ken Sheldon, Alex Marcou and Rod Ashman.


Finding Clymo

AFL Record, Grand Final edition, September 29, 2018

Solving the mystery of why Charlie Clymo left Geelong immediately after coaching the Cats to the 1931 premiership in his one and only season at the club.


Double Act – the heart-throb and the club CEO

AFL Record, Round 21, August 10-12, 2018

The little-known, longtime mateship between Hollywood heart-throb Travis Fimmel and Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell... I first interviewed Travis for my second book, 'The Book Of Success', in 2004 when he was a Calvin Klein underwear model and an aspiring actor. Success hasn't changed him.


When 'The Wiz' rocked Waverley

AFL Record, Finals week 1, September 7-9, 2017

I took shameless showman Warwick Capper back to Waverley where, 30 years earlier, he kicked his 100th goal and took his self-proclaimed 'Mark of the Universe'. What followed was a hilarious jaunt down memory lane. An uncensored version of the story would've created a few headlines and lawsuits.


Steele's skeleton in the cupboard

AFL Record, Round 8, May 11-13, 2018

Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom's fascinating family link to a shady convict who became one of early Melbourne's most wealthy businessmen, and how Steele could've had a different surname... I enlisted the help of a family historian to tell Steele an epic story he'd been completely unaware of.


FOOTY SCANDAL EXPOSED: The game that never was

AFL Record, Round 23, August 29-31, 2014

A 1945 seconds game entered official records as a draw, and was even detailed in a newspaper report – but it was all a sham. The game was never actually played. And I tracked down perhaps the only surviving player from either side, who just happened to be the 'hero' of the fictitious clash.


The football spy they love to hate

AFL Record, Round 12, June 12-21, 2009

The "most despised" spy in the AFL reveals some of his secrets, and the lengths he goes to in his quest for closely-guarded information from rival AFL clubs, including pretending to be a construction worker or a fan decked out in club apparel... It helped that I knew him.


All hail 'Peter The Great'

AFL Record, Finals week 2, September 16-17, 2016

The two-club push for early champion Peter Burns to be elevated to official Legend status. Burns' case is one of the most glaring oversights in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. If he'd been born in 1966 instead of 1866, he would have been made a Legend 10 years ago.


The mark of Ziebell: from Rhine to the Roos

AFL Record, Round 19, August 7-9, 2015

An elderly neighbour told me he was a distant relative of North Melbourne gun Jack Ziebell and that they shared some interesting German heritage. Jack and his family didn't know any of this, so we took them to Ziebell's Farmhouse, the nearby Lutheran church and cemetery, which have been preserved in Melbourne's north. They were astounded, and so grateful.

Bingo – John Bingley: Saints' eight-game hero

AFL Record, Grand Final edition, October 1, 2016

John Bingley played just 8 games for St Kilda but was integral to its only premiership in 1966. It was Bingley's last league game. He returned to his native Tasmania and enjoyed more footy triumphs before partial paraplegia put him in a wheelchair. Success in business probably saved his life.


The Boy from the Grammar: Sam Newman

AFL Record, Round 3, April 4-6, 2014

To mark 50 years since Sam's debut at Brunswick St, I arranged to meet him there. Here's the video: https://www.afl.com.au/video/444315/it-s-50. Sam has always been great to me. On The Footy Show he held up my Norm Smith book and read out that some think it's the best footy book ever written!


The Curious Case of Johnny Lewis

AFL Record, Finals week 2, September 15-16, 2017

North Melbourne champ Johnny Lewis – the idol of the legendary Jack Dyer and the great-grandfather of Eagles 2018 premiership player Daniel Venables – waged a one-man war against Richmond and was suspended for a whole season over two bizarre off-field incidents.


Triumphs, Tragedies & A Scandalous Secret

AFL Record, Finals week 2, September 14-15, 2018

Geelong's unique Wilson & Sons combination won premierships and Melbourne Cups, while suffering great tragedy. I also stumbled across a scandalous family secret.


AFL website (AFL.com.au)

'I'd be bigger than the Bee Gees'

afl.com.au, January 11, 2014

A rare interview with volatile 1980s cult figure Mark 'Jacko' Jackson. Jacko was adamant he didn't care to talk to a "toilet-trained" employee of the AFL, which he claimed had "hijacked the game". An hour later, he declared it had been "the best flamin' interview of all time!"

COMMENT: The rule that could compromise the integrity of the premiership

afl.com.au, September 5, 2019

The AFL’s golden-score rule for finals always had the potential to be a disaster. Just three months after this opinion piece was published, the AFL scrapped the rule and made the changes I'd suggested. Now I'm not so egotistical to suggest I had any influence, but...

History rewritten: The remarkable story of the Grand Final goal that wasn't

afl.com.au, January 29, 2020

A goal in the 1964 Grand Final was inexplicably credited to the wrong player, and the correction has had ramifications on player honours. The two players in question just happen to be great mates, so cue the locker-room ribbing.

How Steele almost lost a testicle

afl.com.au, September 3, 2019

Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom's wince-worthy recovery from a ruptured testicle... Before Steele's return for the finals, I convinced him to give me the lowdown on his low blow, and the delicate process of returning to the field... Some male readers struggled to make it through the entire story.

Cyril's historic 'triathlon': A jockey, footballer and boxer all in one day

afl.com.au, November 5, 2019

Did Cyril Gove really compete as a jockey, a League footballer and a boxer on the same late autumn day in 1915? I tracked down his two sons, both in their 80s, and they provided some terrific insights, including the best clue yet that their father might well have completed this phenomenal triathlon.

He took American football by storm, then disappeared: The Kangaroo Kicker

afl.com.au, February 3, 2020

To coincide with the Super Bowl, I told the story of Pat O'Dea, who played for Melbourne and Essendon in the 1890s before becoming an American football legend almost by accident. The 'Kangaroo Kicker's' personal life went downhill and he later went missing. What happened next?

Blues' act ends a family's pain and grief

afl.com.au, May 28, 2016

I might've been the only media person present at Princes Park when Carlton apologised to the family of the late, great Sir Doug Nicholls for racially vilifying him almost 90 years earlier. I also uncovered a great link between Sir Doug and football manufacturer Ross Faulkner.

War & footy

The Carlton hopeful who survived WWII by clinging to a football

afl.com.au, April 24, 2019

A young footballer-serviceman was aboard a ship that was bombed by the Japanese during WWII but he survived by using a footy as a flotation device... My interest was piqued by a 1944 newspasper snippet making this remarkable claim and I managed to track down his elderly son, who confirmed it.

A Fighting Fury

AFL Record, April 25, 2017

Richmond great Hughie James achieved more honours for bravery in World War I than any other League footballer. I just happened to make contact with his daughter-in-law and granddaughter, both lovely Kiwis, before they were to donate some memorabilia to the Tigers' museum. So I met them there.


A star's sacrifice: The Joe Slater story

AFL Record, Anzac edition, Round 5, April 21-25, 2017

Joe Slater was a Geelong champion who was perhaps League football's greatest loss in World War I when he was killed in France. I caught up with Slater's distant relative, media personality Rob Gaylard and his wife Karen, who were very helpful. Sadly, Rob died in 2020.


How footy and Anzac Day overcame a tempestuous beginning

afl.com.au, April 25, 2015

An essay on footy's connection with Anzac Day and how far it has come in recent decades.