The Coodabeens stories (1980s)

‘Very kind of The Coodabeen Champions to find room in their 40th anniversary book for glimpses of two stories I wrote way back in the late 1980s about the ensemble’s resident troubadour Greg Champion.

The Coodabeens, with their gentle humour and delightful camaraderie, are an institution of ABC Radio and Australian Rules football.

One story, illustrated by a share-house mate of the time, David Francis, was in The Age’s Weekender pages. I recall visiting Greg Champion in Malvern and chatting about footy and music and the blues and Big Joe Turner and growing up in South Australia. And then we went and had a kick of the footy in a local park. ‘Immersive journalism’ you’d call it these days. ‘Gonzo journalism’? Not quite. Just two young blokes playing footy.

The second story reproduced in the scrapbook style of the publication looked at Champion’s non-footy songs, his song-writing. ‘The Singing Coodabeen’ was  for The Sunday Age. Don’t think we had a kick of the footy for that story. “Gotta look after my fingers these days,” said Champs, “the plight of the footy-loving musician!”

There was a third article back then, too. About the group’s lesser-known Sunday evening magazine program on ABC Radio. I recall sitting in the studio at Lonsdale Street and, when asking about the age and background of the program’s audience, Tony Leonard said, “Well, a few of them call in and use words like ‘scallywag’.  I reckon that says a lot.”

The three stories may still be in old manila folders in an old filing cabinet in the garage, but I have been doing some culling lately.

Thank you, Coodabeens.

More details about the 40th anniversary book.

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