Essendon 2007 In Retrospect

Good evening,

As this is BomberBoy's Blog and we have come to the end of the season, it is an appropriate time to pen some thoughts on the 2007 season and prospects for 2008.

I am disappointed in 2007 for several reasons. The retirement of our 'mastercoach' Kevin Sheedy just leaves an empty feeling and a hole that desperately needs to be filled (more on this later). My sadness is not generated by nature of Sheedy's removal. He is a cagey old bugger as everyone knows, so getting him out would always be difficult whatever the timing and age. I will just miss his words of wisdom, press conference ambiguities, ultra-positive promotion of AFL and the mighty Essendon Football Club. Thanks for a lifetime of dedication and success Kevin.

Second, the retirement of James Hird creates more sadness. Our legendary 'No 5' graces the wall of my living room and I have delighted in his performances throughout his career. When they talk about footballers being role models, could there actually be a better one? Thanks for the memories James and I look forward to watching your career continue to blossom in it;s next phases.

On field, the season was mixed. The positives were the overall quality and consistent high performance of Hirdy when he was on the park; the immediate impact of Alwyn Davey who will excite Bomber fans for years to come; the emergence and maturity of Paddy Ryder; the win over West Coast at the 'Dome' coming back after an extremely sluggish start being the 'highs' that quickly come to mind.

But the outstanding highlight for me for 2007 was Scott Lucas's individual performance against West Coast in Round 22 when he kicked seven goals in the final quarter to nearly bring off an Essendon win and a fairy tale finish to Kevin and James career with the club.

The negatives were again a slow and mediocre midfield which placed too much stress on a back line which could hold up only so long. Also I was confused why some available speed wasn't injected given strong performances by some at the Bendigo Bombers and bemused why a game plan to exploit a fit Matthew Lloyd (along with the new hands in the back rule) wasn't developed. A big disappointment was James and Alwyn going down together in the Geelong game while we were in a very competitive position in that game and for the season.

So with the retirements of Hird, Camporeale, Heffernan and Bolton and the departure of Sheedy, where to in 2008?

I will be honest and admit Matthew Knights would not have been my first choice as senior coach. But his decision to release Gary Ayres and Dean Wallis from the coaching panel is one I agree with. They were part of the past regime which made some strange decisions and it was time to clean the leadership out. I understand that Knights will be focusing on youth, injecting a higher skill base and offer a more 'teaching' style to develop the players and associated game plan. While it may have been more prudent offer a two year not three year deal, now the decision has been made it is time for some solidarity and good luck Matthew. Take us forward!

As for the playing list, I think there is promise if improvements are made in the midfield set ups, rotations and they play with more accountably than in prior seasons. I look forward to seeing more game time from Gumbleton, Jetta, Dempsey and Houli. This in itself will be exciting. However it is make or break for Johns, Bradley and Lee, with Michael, Mark J and JJ likely to find 2008 being the end of their careers.

My prediction is for a finish in the range 8 - 12. I can't really see us being much better than a 50/50 win loss ratio for next year as the new coach and playing group develop and mature.

But as ever, Go Bombers!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Now the Humphries have a 'Q'!

Good evening,

Bloody friends. At a Grand Final BBQ last weekend a friend slow roasted a leg of pork on his (hooded) BBQ and it was magnificent. I do like a good BBQ but don't have the weapon to perform this task. So on Sunday Robin and I headed to the local 'outdoors' shop and ordered a Weber 'Q'.

It has a great reputation in print and from people I know, so we were happy to take the plunge. And it was a lot cheaper than a full blown 'hooded' Weber which includes wok burner etc. These are awesome devices but just overkill.

The Weber was picked up and I unpacked both the 'Q' and it's optional trolley today. Obviously assembling them both is not a complex task if I could get it done in under an hour.

And tonight was the first test, a 750g corner topside of beef with baked potato. After much weighing, planning, clock watching and fretting, the meat and potatoes finally went on. An hour later, the finished product was on the table. The verdict? Frankly the beef was a little too well cooked so it was firm, but had great flavour. The baked potatoes were a resounding success when topped with cheese and home-grown chives.

Several lessons were learned today but the 'Q' was a cinch to set up and completely works as advertised. Thanks 'Q'!, and roll on the next meal!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Ola Buenos Aires

Good evening,

I have just returned from a business trip to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

The city is a really interesting mixture of British, French and Spanish influences, especially reflected in a wide variety of architectural styles.

The beef (grazed, grass fed like our own) is superb as are the red wines, especially their syrah and 'straight' malbecs. Managed to catch a travelling exhibition on the career of Juan Manuel Fangio, displaying some of his cars, trophies and other memorabilia. Interesting for a racing buff.

Check out my web gallery for a pictorial tour of Buenos Aires. Warning - 158 photos which could take a while to load on dial up. Sorry.

I found the people to be hospitable and welcoming, with special thanks to Horacio and Pablo for being such good hosts and guides and answering all of our 'dumb' tourist type questions. Apart from the food, the social highlight of the week was a visit to a Dinner & Tango Show event. The venue was outstanding and the performances superb. Highly recommended.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Old Home Week - New York Trip

Good evening,

I had the good fortune to take a business trip to New York at the end of June. There was of course some serious business to be done, but it was a great opportunity for me to re-acquaint myself with my colleagues in the Altria Park Avenue office and all of my old 'haunts' in Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the Altria office is winding down and a number of retirements and retrenchments are lowering the morale a little, but as always, the staff were friendly and professional.

A good friend and colleague, Darwin Stanley, retired on the Friday and after a formal dinner on Thursday, I was fortunate enough to head out to Darwin and Kathie's beautiful property for a most enjoyable evening of fine food, exceptional wines, conversation and music. Darwin is a jazz fan with a dedicated listening room, an incredible CD collection and some seriously good gear.

The city was again a fantastic place to hang out. The weather was superb and perfect for walking, observing, window shopping and sometimes buying. The bars and restaurants were as good as ever, as long as you like 'American' style cuisine. The coffee, of course, is diabolical!

The Apple Store in the middle of the iPhone frenzy, a listening session at 'Sound by Singer', crab cakes at 'Houstons' and an enjoyable walk through Central Park (and paying respects at Strawberry Fields) were highlights of a great weekend.

I am just sorry NYC is so far away and my visits are therefore so infrequent.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Mother-in-Law Birthday

Good evening,

Robin and I hosted a luncheon for Margaret Cleland (the M-i-L) on Saturday. Her husband Ian, my father Max, and family friends Libby and her daughter Lani were also in attendance.

A seafood starter followed by a superbly BBQ'd eye fillet steak with vegetables and finished with a variety of cakes was enjoyed by all. I am surprised at how much Margaret ate given all the talking she did!

Margaret is a Carlton supporter, and I, as we all know, am Essendon. During lunch the mighty Bombers got away to a cracking start, the delights of which I shared with Margaret. Fair to say, to her chagrin.

They left mid afternoon, and it was not surprising that I received a phone call later that evening to thank us for a wonderful day and to gloat at Carlton's come from behind victory. Ouch!

But as always, it was a pleasure to catch up with Margaret and Ian. There are always plenty of 'interesting' stories and they are both wonderful company.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Vale : Andrew Charles STEVENSON

I am extremely sad to report the passing of my good friend Andrew Stevenson. Too good a person to exit so young.

Andrew and I first met (I think) as Year 7 students at Ivanhoe Grammar School in early 1967. The memory dims from 40 years ago, but I seem to recall we were both quiet (introverted?), and shared some similar interests.

Over time, we drew closer, with a common passion for cars, music and conversation. But perhaps the greatest bond we had was a strong sense of humour, founded in deep sarcasm of what we saw around us. Also, we followed a similar academic path of humanities, finance and economics spending considerable class time as well as personal time together.

Apart from cars, which Andrew ultimately turned into a successful career and I turned into a succession of loss-making transactions, I remember Andrew, like other key figures in my life, through music. To this day, if ever I play Chris Rea, Andrew's smiling face comes rushing back circa 1977.

I understand that Andrew's humour stayed with him until the very end, referring to the Austin (Public) Hospital ward as the 'Backpackers accommodation', versus 'The Hilton' at Warringal Private across the road, where he spent his last days. And unassuming and respectful till the end, he apologised for not being too chatty when Robin and I last visited............

Andrew is survived by his loving wife Carmel, and wonderful children Timothy and Emily, mother Joy and brother David. May they grow stronger together.

My life was incalculably enhanced through my knowing Andrew. Thanks for the memories, son.

Sin City..............

Good evening,

Well, the latest holiday was a week spent in Sydney acting the great tourists from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay, from Manly to Watson's Bay and beyond.

(Manly, 2007)

Our accommodation was at the Medina Apartments in Darling Harbour which was a fantastic location just behind the aquarium. and a most enjoyable time was had. A new camera made it's way into the bag, a Canon IXUS 850 IS. A very fine device, user friendly, great resolution and an excellent feel in the hand. Some three hundred plus photos were taken to assist the memories.

(Stairs to Nowhere - Sydney, 2007)

Transportation was by water (all manner of ferries) and by foot. Both very good ways to engage with most of what is available in the inner city / harbour environs. Highlights were the food & drink prices in Darling Harbour (V. high), the ambience and relaxing feel in Manly, the views from the old Sydney Observatory, and of course the ever-changing views and activities on and around Sydney Harbour. When the sun is shining, and at night, often too pretty for words.

(Sydney Observatory - 2007)

Not surprisingly we ate and drink continuously, although not always at the highest standard but usually the views offset the quality concerns. Jordons at Darling Harbour and Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse on Woolloomoloo Wharf were my highlights. An honourable mention to the Cargo Bar Lounge for comfy couches, a good by-the-glass wine list and tasty bar snacks. All provided of course with a water view.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Keeping a lid on it!

Good afternoon,

As a died-in-the-wool Essendon supporter (doh), at this time of the year it is very hard to keep a lid on the absolute excitement that the forthcoming season brings.

'Traditional' January / February stories abound. Everyone is 'training the house down', key players have 'never been fitter', skin folds are 'at a PB' and the draft choices are 'fitting in perfectly'. As always, Hirdy is looking great, cruising in second gear and having to be kept OFF the track, McPhee is delivering 'great rebound off half back', Courtney Johns is in for a big year, rookies are showing 'poise in heavy traffic', second year players 'are all showing positive signs', and Matthew Lloyd is whipping the supporters into a membership frenzy. Even Mark Bolton has received some positive press!

Roll on the first game. And I reject the perception that I am delusional!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

New Years Resolutions & Beyond

Good afternoon,

I always find it best to make NYRs a little after January 1 just to let a little reality settle into expectations for the year ahead.

There are three key areas for me to focus on in 2007:
- Health & Fitness
- Hi Fi
- Motorsport

On the health & fitness front, I need the former as a pre-requisite for the latter. I assume I will continue to get full value from my top-level corporate health cover early this year before I am able to reclaim some of my 'paid in advance' personal training sessions from 2006.

As for the hi fi, for details of the journey so far (for those interested) see the Hi Fi Journal section of the site, after some modest investments in 2006, this year should be all about fine tuning, tweaking and THE MUSIC, which is after all what we should really be participating in this hobby for.

Ah motorsport. This is where the discretionary money might go in 2007. If I achieve the health goal, I would love to have a more serious attempt at some circuit-based motorsport. Vehicle etc to be decided.

There you go, I have committed.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Happy New Year

Good evening,

From the management and staff of, I wish all readers, their partners, significant others and other others, a very safe, healthy, happy and prosperous 2007.

To all my friends in New York, in Illinois, in Washington, in Virginia, in Vermont, in Connecticut, in Florida, in Malaysia, in Indonesia, in Singapore, in Japan, in Switzerland and in Australia (you all know who you are!), Happy New Year to you and thanks for your friendship and support!

Here at Chez Humphries,. we hope for health and personal improvements in all forms for the current year. Be it a golf score / form / handicap, horse-riding results, Porsche club lap times, outrageous improvement from the Bombers, all matters audio and overall health and fitness for the over-50's, year on year gains are greatly hoped for.

On a more national front, I hope Australia continues to provide stability and support to our region. I also wish that our primary producers are able to reap the rewards of their labours more efficiently, effectively and more naturally (without GM) so we, in the lucky country, can have the fresh and healthy foods on our tables that we had fifty years ago.

Bye for now, BomberBoy