One night in my late 20s I got drunk at a party and made a promise to a friend of mine who played for the Port Kembla Blacks Aussie rules team.
I told him that, the following year, I would suit up and play for the Blacks too. And the bastard never let me forget that promise.
So about five months later I turned up at their home ground for the first training run. The first of what would be heaps and heaps of training runs. Because I ended up playing for the team for a decade – from 1998-2007.
I stopped playing for a couple of reasons – my wife and I were going to have a baby and I didn’t want to be away every Saturday playing footy. Also, as a fullback I realised I was often marking opponents who were literally half my age.
But the big reason for quitting was that I’d just had a gutful of playing footy – the league the Blacks played in was a big one so sometimes time spent driving to and from a match would tally up to more than the time of the actual game.
For the first three or four years I played, I’d always go back to the sponsor’s pub after a game. It wasn’t a pub with a good reputation – at the time I started playing footy, the Liquor Administration Board said it was one of the worst run licensed premises they had seen and the local police called it the ‘‘drug centre of Wollongong’’.
So I didn’t stay there very long. Every time I left I breathed a sigh of relief that my car was still in the car park. But I would stay there long enough for one beer and, because my team was called the Blacks, it seemed drinking a schooner of black was very appropriate.
Officially known as Toohey’s Old, it’s more affectionately termed ‘‘black’’ by fans. And some of those fans include craft beer geeks – it’s one of those mainstream beers that they have a soft spot for.
Easy to see why – it’s a tasty beer. It was the first dark beer I ever drank with any regularity. I really liked the chocolate malt flavour and was impressed with the balance – it’s a dark beer but it’s still quite refreshing.
Technically, this isn’t a beer I used to drink, because I still have one every now and then. But I don’t drink it as often as I did when I was playing footy. Having drunk one for this post, I’m thinking I might need to change that.
Categories: Beers I Used to Drink