Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshment.
As we stepped over the ropes between the bollards, we entered Steve’s alternate reality where baby Freycinet was served with a black straw and men were men with Crownies. A unisex vanity unit was perfectly positioned for touchups: think Nair, VO5, Faberge Brut and an industrial-sized bottle of 4711. For spray-tan emergencies, a template with a face-shaped cutout was thoughtfully provided.
Styles we’ll see more of this season... the requisite decolletage was prominent, but also in evidence were rabid Magpie, Demons and Blues ensembles, as well as gangsta wear and suits with footballer-skew-whiff ties and an extraordinary white-blonde Dolly Partonesque wig. Most magnificent was the handsome one himself, resplendent in an olive-green velvet suit delicately flared on the trousers, with a pointy-collared tropical-patterned shirt that picked out the greens in combination with shades of mauve. Writer-ex-footballer Tony Wilson flashed his jacket open to reveal Dermott Brereton’s autographed training jumper as he shot the breeze with Cats Vice-Prez and ex-Cats and -Tiges star Gareth Andrews, who (most pertinently for this Tiges supporter) played at the ’74 Tiges premiership game.
Steve’s culinary prowess reached its pinnacle with the party-pie floaters. The red sauce infused strong accents onto the succulent pastry as it hovered in the plush, pea-green potage.
MC Roger Taylor introduced Neil Kelly (guitar) and Graeme Leak (theremin) who presented an astounding interlude of footy-club themes, ending the set with ‘My Way’. On the telly the action heated up for the muted broadcast of the Brownlows as Neil multitasked by firing up the barbie for some bangers and sauce, which were cooked to perfection by the glamorously decolletée ex–Nudel Bar impresario now Pilates instructor Helen Saniga.
Tony Wilson recounted the getting of the Brereton jumper followed by the tragic tale of broken Brownlow dreams, seeded by sleeping in the bed won by his football-royal father, Ray Wilson, when he polled the most votes for a Hawthorn player in 1966.
Music that followed, retrieved from an early-’80s LP of footballers singing pop songs of the day, made a strong argument for amnesia. (Or anaesthetic relief from Richard, at the bar.)
Steve, glowing with the aura of having the Cats VP in the room, gestured towards the 1967 Cats towel hanging on the wall (they lost the GF that year, remember), and spoke of how he wept on (not wet) it. And, amazingly, he was showing little sign (outwardly, anyway) of this year's pain.