Meeting Geoff Blethyn

Sometimes writing takes you to surprising places.

In 2014 I wrote a curious piece about how wearing a particular T-shirt helped me through the suburban trauma of doing the supermarket shopping. It was a lightweight story, for sure, but hopefully there were moments of – if not gravity – then at least some seriousness. Like any story, it was about joining the dots. Fairly disparate dots, on this occasion. I called the story Shelf Life.

The T-shirt depicted a bespectacled footballer by the name of Geoff Blethyn, who played for Essendon, and then Claremont and Port Adelaide, from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.  I’ve always barracked for Essendon and I’ve always worn glasses. Geoff played full-forward and kicked goals. In my childhood imagination – especially those backyard dreams – I played full-forward and kicked goals.

Geoff Blethyn may have read the story back in 2014 – the T-shirt’s designer, Chris Rees, forwarded it to him.

About two weeks ago I received an email. From Geoff Blethyn. Suggesting a rendezvous. He’d come across the story again and would like to meet.

So, on a rainy Melbourne Cup Day we met at Windy Hill, spiritual home of Essendon. We chatted inside, just metres from the ground where Geoff played.

Sometimes writing takes you to surprising places.

Shelf Life



  1. Hi Vin, pleasure was all ours – especially seeing how good the T shirt looked …not sure Windy Hill was the best place to meet, seeing you pedalled all the way from Williamstown!….We luv the way you write, so it was a really pleasant time for us to meet you Vin. I am sure my computer mate Brian will feel great wearing his T-shirt as well – especially if he wears it when going skydiving again!

    • I cycled home from Windy Hill to Willamstown, via the Maribyrnong (into a bloody headwind!) – but I had conserved energy on my way to Windy Hill by putting the bike on the train. Cheers.

  2. To kick a goal first one must get the ball. Tall people have an advantage in the marking contest. This leads me to suspect that the one on the right is the goal kicker.

    Brian Fox

  3. Nice one, Vin. it’s always good when the subject of a piece appreciates your words. I remember Geoff playing for Essendon, too. I reckon he wore No.11 and No.7. As a boy, I thought it was strange that someone would change numbers — but move down only four figures. As an adult, I still do!

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