Image for Keith Dunstan and his place in the Australian sun

In time to avoid the grand final frenzy he famously deplored, Australia loses one of its great journalists, writers and voices — the inestimable Keith Dunstan. Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence provides a touching tribute.

KEITH DUNSTAN, as befitting the quiet man with the bow tie who co-founded the Anti-Football League, surely timed his departure from this mortal coil to avoid non-attendance at today’s Grand Final, considered a defiant act of notorious calumny and civic treachery in this State of Victoria.

Ostensibly, anyone who is someone will be there barracking alongside anyone who is no-one, rubbing shoulders with couldabeens, wouldabeens, hasbeens and still mightbees.

There will be big noters, note-takers, notables, non-entities and notaries squiring Zegna-suited business moguls from the lower end of town, stuffing their corporate wallets with the takings of lost sweat dreams from punters big and small.

Certain privileged members, sponsors, cartels and coterie will man hug and butterfly kiss in corporate boxes and entertain politicians, civic leaders, socialites and social heavies.

They will be quarantined from the hoi-polloi to protect the Great Unwashed from infection and peptidal wave infarction.

In today’s clash between two faux tribes, manufactured from the same unashamed processed commercial ingredients, laced with additives, humectants, hype and hyperbole, some attempt will be made to conjure up the nobility of what was once perceived as the Worker’s Game.

Boys and men once trained, played, refereed and coached for the honour and glory of their Club and familial allegiance.

There was a time when transfers came out of a cereal packet and not a chequebook; when loyalty and respect were both earned and not bought; when kids had stars and not dollar signs in their eyes.

Supplements fell out of newspapers and were not injected into confused bodies and sometimes confused minds by clear-thinking proponents.

Pep talks not peptides inspired and motivated players; when players and coaches were seen and not Hird.

Decades earlier, Keith Dunstan saw the writing on the footy banner. The then Victorian Football League was beginning to wrest the hallowed game from the people and he despaired of it. And for it.

The VFL was to transmogrify into the Australian Football League, pilfering Keith’s acronym in the doing so, making millions of silken purses out of the sow’s ear and bladder.

In 1967, when Keith and eminent brother journalist on the then Sun News-Pictorial, Douglas Wilkie founded the real AFL, it was deemed an act of insurrection and insolence tantamount to a rebellion of Eureka Stockade proportions.

Read the full article, Independent Australia, here