Send in the clowns

31 August 2003 AFL By HOWARD KOTTON

SEND IN THE CLOWNS

31 August 2003 AFL By HOWARD KOTTON

Neil Roberts regards the late, great Jack Dyer as a comic genius. Roberts, who for many years sat in on TV's legendary World of Sport panel, this week told Howard Kotton tales of Jack and the other funny men of football.

In the past week we've heard and read how the late Jack Dyer mangled the English language. Neil Roberts sees it differently.

For many years Roberts sat on Channel 7's World of Sport footy panel beside Dyer and his great mate Lou Richards and was mesmerised by the Richmond legend's honesty, originality and impeccable delivery.

"Lou was a clown, Jack was a linguistic genius," said Roberts, the 1958 Brownlow medallist and former Sunday Herald Sun columnist. "Jack was funny without knowing it.

"Jack mesmerised me because of the things he'd say and the way he'd say them. It was totally original and so funny. I'd never heard anyone twist the language like him - he killed more English than Braveheart.

"It was beautiful to listen to him speak. He had an answer for everything. He was almost uncanny in the way he knew everything you were going to say."

Here are some of Roberts's favourite tales about Jack, Lou and the other footballers turned commentators who have made us laugh.

JACK After Jack's wife, Sybil, died in 1967, we went to the funeral and then on to the wake in their house in Richmond. Jack loved making pickles in a big copper vessel used for boiling clothes, and corned beef and pickle sandwiches were his specialty. The one-time policeman reckoned there were two coppers at his place - one he made the pickles in and himself.

There was not a lot of room in the house, particularly when you filled it up with overweight ex-Tiger ruckmen. The longneck bottles of beer were being opened and the stories were being told. Don "Mopsy" Fraser, George Smeaton, Allan "Kicker" Geddes, Percy Bentley and Les Jones were there and the conversation level was very high.

They were an aggressive bunch and after the effects of the drink set in they were at each other's throats. Finally, a few punches were exchanged, all in good fun. Smeaton stood up on the couch and Dyer pulled him up. As he did, everyone stopped talking and you could feel the tension. A punch froze in the air as Dyer said: "Listen you blokes, if you've got no respect for my furniture or for Sybil, have a bit of respect for my corned beef sandwiches."

OVER a few cans after World of Sport, we were talking about pre-marital sex. Lou said: "I never had sex with my wife before we were married. Did you Jack?" Jack replied: "I don't know, what was her maiden name?"

JACK was a light drinker; as soon as it got light he started to drink. After a heavy night, I said to him: "Did you go to that Collingwood function the other night?" Jack said: "Yeah, I saw you there at two o'clock in the morning. You were standing near one of those pot plants. I know because I bought you both a drink."

JACK had a great time in a trip to Western Australia, recounting how he was treated to champagne and a "motor arcade". Picking up on another Dyerism, Lou said: "Don't you know the Queen's English?" Jack: "Of course, I do. I fought for her during the war." Lou said later he knew Jack was lying when he said he was a deckhand on a submarine.

JACK was shaking the hell out of a young recruit. Asked what he was doing, he said: "I'm creating a loose man."

JACK hated Collingwood, particularly Collingwood small blokes. After the footy panel Jack had another crack at Lou: "You always go into the finals with these little fellas, like them little fellas in the Calamari Desert."

LOU After a big night out, we were standing on Princes Bridge at 4am and we thought we might jump into the Yarra. We stood up on the bridge, then Lou had second thoughts. "I don't think we should," Lou said. "Two things, I've borrowed this suit and it would be my luck to jump down the chimney of the Williamstown ferry."

WE went to this function and had a few drinks beforehand. Bill Collins was the compere and we went to the toilet before dinner was served. Lou came out and wiped his hands down his trousers. He had not even washed his hands and this bloke turned around and said: "Excuse me, I went to Wesley College and we were always taught to wash our hands after going to the toilet, especially before dinner." Lou's quick reply: "So did ya? I went to Collingwood Tech and we were taught not to p--- on them in the first place."

LOU was talking about his brother, Ron, who was nowhere near as good a player as Lou. In one discussion Lou told Ron: "I carried you longer than our mother did."

LOU said he picked his wife, Edna, up in a travel bureau because she was the last resort. "I've got the best wife in Australia. The other one is in South Africa."

BOBBY They call Bobby Davis "Woofa" because he will eat anything that's dead. Before the 1958 interstate carnival we met outside the MCG about 10.30am. We had to play Western Australia and the Sandgropers were hot favourites. It was early, so we decided to go for a walk into town. We went to the Myer food section and he ate two chickens before we could even look at him. We were playing in two hours and he bought another chicken, which he ate as we were walking back to the ground. It didn't affect him, though, because he was best on the ground.

CRACKERS Crackers Keenan was recruited from Wilby, where, as he says, the men are men and the sheep are nervous. He came down to the city to become a Melbourne player after being recruited by secretary Jim Cardwell. Jimmy picked him up at Spencer St station on a lovely spring afternoon.

They had a bit of time to spare, so they walked from the station through Melbourne, with Jim pointing out all these features. There were other seven or eight recruits with them and they ended up in the Fitzroy Gardens.

Jim thought he would tell Crackers about Captain Cook's Cottage before going to the MCG. Jim told him: "This is Captain Cook's Cottage and, as you can see, parts of the cottage were made and numbered in Wilby, where you came from. A lot of this is Wilby oak."

But Crackers was not paying attention. There were girls in mini-skirts and he had never seen such a short skirt before. He was getting carried away with these lovely legs. Jim then asked Crackers what he thought of Captain Cook's Cottage. Quick as a flash, Crackers shot back: "Nice and handy to the city for him."

SAM Doug Wade and Sam Newman used to try to outdo each other. They bought a hairdressing supply business and used to go through these country towns. When they sold the business, the prospective buyers turned up with satchels full of papers. Wadey and Sam borrowed two satchels. They did the deal and sold the business at a good profit. They wanted to look professional, but they would have been in trouble if they had to open their bags. In Sam's bag was a sandshoe and an apple core; Doug had a jockstrap and a footy jumper.

SAM asked one of his wives what she wanted for her birthday. She told him she wanted a divorce, and he replied: "I wasn't thinking about spending that much money."

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