The Coodabeen Champions LiveSearingly funny, indisputably Melbourne, football and social commentators – The Coodabeen Champions – were live at the Arts Centre Melbourne, the second Sunday in September.

Entering the stage to Morricone’s ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and thunderous applause, Covey, Champs, Billy and Richo absolutely slayed their loyal and adoring fans in the outer and Members; otherwise known as the Stalls and Dress Circle.

For close to two hours the troupe entertained us with their trademark laconic wit, irreverence, self-deprecating humour and astounding football knowledge. Told from the point of view of the fan, its beauty lies in the emotional hook – adulation, frustration, heartbreak and fanaticism, just like the game itself. 

They made it seem all so effortless, which after 1,000 shows (or 36 years on the airwaves) you’d expect. It’s obvious how much they enjoy doing it and with each other. And to witness the rapport between the core four, complimented by guest appearances by “Torch” McGee, former member Tony Leonard and current producer, “Young Andy” Bellairs, only enhances the live experience.

The format followed that of their radio programme – Covie’s Quiz, Guru Bob, Greg’s Songs and Torch’s Footy Talkback.

Covie’s Quiz, involving audience participation (potentially fraught with danger if they’re a clueless bunch) was safe in the hands of Ian Cover, both informative and hilarious. In fact, any time the word “bionic gut” is bantered around, I’m gonna laugh (and in case you’re wondering, it was in reference to former North Adelaide SANFL player, Grenville Dietrich.)

Guru Bob, notorious for his comical spin on well-known philosophical quotes really stood up with, “You can take the boy out of Frankston but why would you bother?”

Greg’s Songs with Champs on guitar, exudes a laid-back hippy demeanour at times, adding another layer to these parodies of popular songs with incredibly astute lyrics. Singalongs “Everybody Slips at the Dome”, “Camera on the Wing”, “Dead Week in September” and “White Jumpers” brilliantly capture what really gets up your goat about the AFL. 

Fictional talkback radio segment, with straight man “Torch” McGee, had all the regulars lining up, and was just another example of their inspired cultural references and stereotype. Pearl from the Peninsula, Nigel from North Fitzroy and Barry from the Barossa – I know these kind of people, they definitely exist.

So when it was all done and dusted and we’d taken a long hard look at ourselves and gone straight up the guts, my only regret was that I hadn’t been listening in 1981. When it all began.


Arts Centre Melbourne in association with 774 ABC Melbourne present
The Coodabeen Champions Live

Venue: Playhouse | Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 11 September 2016
Tickets: $59 – $40
Bookings: 1300 182 183 | www.artscentremelbourne.com.au