The Club (play)

The Club (play)

Infobox Film
name = The Club

image_size =
caption = The Club - "(DVD cover)"
director = Bruce Beresford
producer =
writer = David Williamson
narrator =
starring = Jack Thompson
John Howard
Graham Kennedy
music =
cinematography =
editing =
distributor =
released = 18 September, 1980
runtime = 96 min.
country = AUS
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0080546

"The Club" is a satirical play by Australian playwright David Williamson, that follows the fortunes of a football club over the course of a season. It explores the clashes between "human loyalty versus materialistic gain". [ [ The Sports Factor - Interview with David Williamson] (1998)] It was inspired by the backroom dealings and antics of the Victorian Football League's Collingwood.

The play was produced in 1977, appropriately in Melbourne. It has been in the senior English syllabi for four Australian states for many years, and has even run in America, under the name "Players". [ [ Studies of Australian Drama - David Williamson : The Club] ]

A film version was produced in 1980, written by David Williamson, directed by Bruce Beresford and starring John Howard, Jack Thompson, Graham Kennedy and Frank Wilson. The film was described as a "hilarious, sharply observed slice of life". [ [ Rotten Tomatoes] ] In 2007 The Club was re-produced and is currently touring Australia, starring John Wood, Denis Moore and Christopher Connelly.__NOTOC__


The club pay a high price for Tasmanian recruit, Geoff Hayward (Howard). Geoff does not play well initially, infuriating the dedicated coach, Laurie Holden (Thompson). With the club playing so badly, Laurie's coaching days look to be over soon.

Ted Parker(Kennedy), the club president is forced to resign following an assault on a stripper where he punched her because she wasn’t interested in him but had previously acted very interested but this incident could have been kept quiet apart from the fact that there was backstabbing from various board members, especially Jock(Frank Wilson) and Gerry(Alan Cassell).

Laurie discovers that the board wants to sack him (arising from a long grudge against held against Laurie by Jock), so Laurie inspires Geoff to start playing well. It is later revealed that Jock used to be Laurie's coach when Laurie played for The Club. Jock was jealous because Laurie nearly surpassed his club record of 282 games. He also lost a Grand Final by making poor decisions under the influence of alcohol.

Laurie then told the members that he was drunk. After being dismissed as coach, Laurie became the new coach and Jock tried to sabotage the club his best to get back at Laurie. The team start winning and eventually make the grand final, beating Fitzroy. The film ends with Gerry saying, 'Laurie's a great coach', then looking at Jock, 'God knows why some members of the board wanted to get rid of him'.

The film's ending credits have Up There Cazaly, a famous football song, as a theme.


Chief differences between the play and the film versions include:
*In the film, there are some scenes that take place outside The Club's hallowed halls. In the play, all of the scenes are inside The Club and are acted out in real time, whereas the film takes place over a season.
*In the play, The Club is never named to be one specific club. In the film, John Howard wears Collingwood FC's guernsey when he plays for The Club, and the film featured Collingwood players in speaking and non-speaking roles. ["The Illustrated Collingwood Encyclopedia", Glenn McFarlane and Michael Roberts, 2004] [Collingwood Forever, Gavin Brown, 1997]
*In addition, in the film, the incident with the stripper is shown, whereas in the play, she is an unseen character.


The plot revolves around six central characters:

Geoff Hayward (John Howard) - a new recruit with a huge reputation lured to the club with big money in an attempt to haul the team up the ladder. Hayward resents that the club sees him as a commodity to be bought and sold.

Laurie Holden (Jack Thompson) - the respected and earnest coach of the club whose champion playing career was ended by injury just short of the record number of games played for the club. Holden's credo is honesty and discipline, but the team has struggled to find success under his coaching and he knows that he is under pressure to avoid the sack.

Ted Parker (Graham Kennedy) - club president and owner of a pie factory, Parker is just a fan with a lot of money that the club want a share of. Although his knowledge of the game's intracacies are limited, he has watched virtually every game played by the club since he was a small boy

Jock Riley (Frank Wilson) - ex-champion player from an earlier era, the successful coaching predecessor to Laurie and now an influential committeman. Jock has a finger on the pulse of everything that happens around the club and he regularly meddles when he thinks it necessary.

Gerry Cooper (Alan Cassell)- a new breed administrator recently hired to drag the club into a more professional era. Gerry sees the club as a business, his appointment as merely a job and eschews emotion in his decision making.

Danny Rowe - Player and captain of the team. His career is almost finished and the club consider trading him.


In the script, Williamson uses the arrival of Hayward at the club as a device that gets these characters interacting as express their opinions on Hayward's poor early-season form and attitude, thus exploring several themes relevant to the culture of any sporting club. The original play and the movie were created at a time when Australian football was in a state of flux, moving from a semi-professional state (where players were paid "beer" money for their services) to the modern, fully professional, franchised structure that we know today as the Australian Football League. This process began in the late 1960s/early 1970s, at a time when Williamson and many academics and artists joined the hoi polloi in spending a joyful Saturday afternoon standing on a suburban terrace, braving the weather and yelling themselves hoarse.


ee also

* South Australian Film Corporation

External links

* [ Studies of Australian Drama - David Williamson : The Club]
* [;adv=yes;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=Number%3A4392;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10 The Club at the National Film and Sound Archive]
* [ Kodak/Atlab Cinema Collection]
* [ Collingwood Football Club]
* [ Murdoch University Reading Room]
* [ Macquarie City Library]
* [ Digital Term Papers]
* [ Australian Film Commission]
* [ The New York Times]

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