We’re not suggesting that a brown velour suit should be presented to tonight’s winner of the Brownlow along with the actual medal itself – we’re insisting upon it. Has anyone ever topped South Melbourne’s Graham Teasdale for sartorial elegance on football’s night of nights? In 1977 he was not only adjudged to be the finest footballer in the VFL competition, he also raised the bar to impossible heights in the fashion stakes with his velour suit, beard, and general ‘vibe’. In our humble opinion, he’s never been topped, and we’re not letting the fact that we’re basing this opinion entirely upon three black and white photographs get in our way.
THE ENTRANCE – 1 VOTE
In 1977, the concept of ‘the red carpet’ really only existed at the entrance to the Academy Awards (™) and in your ‘creative’ Auntie Tegan’s en-suite bathroom, (accompanied by a ‘Love Is’ poster on the wood-panelled wall). The likelihood of being pulled aside and asked ‘Who are you wearing?’ in that age had a very different meaning, and would almost certainly have pointed to a communal bowl filled with Kingswood and Regal car keys being positioned in the entrance hall to the aforementioned Auntie Tegan’s house.
Whilst Graham Teasdale had no red carpet to tread back in ’77, and no microphones were thrust under his companion’s nose for a quick endorsement of Anita’s Frock ‘n’ Blouse Boutique in Aspendale, he took it in his stride. And seriously, look at that stride. It’s a purposeful, ‘I’m here’ kind of gait – powerful, confident, cheerful. It says ‘Look, I don’t know if I’ll win tonight, Keith Grieg’s had another great year, but I’ve got a velour suit on, the trousers fit snugly where it matters before billowing out from the thigh downwards, my partner looks a thousand bucks (a lot of money back then), my beard is trimmed and my hair is blow-dried. The club have promised to tap two kegs back at the Lake Oval later on if I poll a few votes, so let’s enjoy ourselves.’ He’s practically won before a vote has been read out.
THE ATTITUDE – 2 VOTES
‘Look, it’s not about me, it’s about the team. I’ll just stick to drinking a few glasses of Leed lemonade during the count, and keep things cool until we know how it pans out’
This is clearly not what what Graham thought, or did. At least, I’m assuming he didn’t based purely upon this photograph of him holding a large bottle of champagne during the count. He may well have been a teetotaler for all I know, but the point is, if he was willing to pose for a photo with a massive bottle of booze in his hand, he was there for a good time, and that says one thing: GREAT ATTITUDE.
Just looking at this photo should set off a series of Pavlovian responses in anyone old enough to have been to their older cousin Tony’s wedding during that era. If the sight of a bearded man with a massive velour bow-tie affixed to a ruffled shirt doesn’t immediately conjure up a craving for a selection of cold processed meats, prawn cocktails, Steak Dianne (‘Cook it WELL DONE thanks love, I don’t want to hear it mooing’) and pavlova followed by percolated coffee and after dinner mints, something’s wrong. You may also feel like crawling up under the table towards the end of night and going to sleep and wondering why all of your aunts who are usually pretty stand-offish want to kiss you and your uncles keep ruffling your hair.
THE WIN – 3 VOTES
You know how we were just saying that for all we know, Graham Teasdale may have been a teetotaler? Yeah, look, clearly judging by this picture he may have got off the glasses of Leed and into that big bottle of bubbly fairly early on. And why wouldn’t he? He was on his way to winning the Brownlow medal. He was also wearing a velour suit – have we mentioned that? It’s worth noting that to sit through several hours of mind numbing vote counting whilst his powerful and athletic body was encased in a suit made of heavy fabric under which lay a polyester/rayon blend (ruffled) shirt, is no mean feat. Here’s Graham, many hours after the evening commenced with nary a hair out of place nor a bead of perspiration on his brow. Now THAT is class, and that in itself is a feat worthy of recognition.
The eyes here say so much – and then some. They convey the look of a winner, and also, in some ways, the look of someone who is also quite tired, and possibly emotional. Teasdale grips footballs’ ultimate individual honour gently between thumb and forefinger, and looks down the lens of the photographer who has been following him around all night as if to say “I did it”. His look also says “I’m feeling a bit pissed” and “If Instagram had been invented I would definitely be posting mad props to my boys at Warren Hetherington’s Velour Suit Cave for taking care of me with this mad bag of fruit”
Graham Teasdale, YOU took the Brownlow suit to a level that has never, ever been equalled since that glittering evening in September 1977. Who, before or since, has ever lifted the bar so high? Who would ever have thought to construct the actual bar out of velour? Who has had even the slightest inclination to attempt to top, or even better still, replicate your ‘jazzy threads’? What winner has ever stood upon the stage, with old ‘Charlie’ draped around their neck who could honestly say they did their best both on the field, AND in the fitting room of a gentlemen’s outfitter in the lead up to the event?
You. And only you.
Graham, we salute you, and the soft, thick and tactile ship you sailed in 37 years ago today. We are not joking. That was a totally righteous look.