This film about an Australian Rules football club in the Victorian Football League (VFL) could easily be about the behind-the-scenes and front-of-house activities of any company, organisation, charity or committee.
It shows the way people operate – lying, manipulating, adapting, pushing a line . . .
Laurie Holden, the coach (Jack Thompson), has never won a Grand Final; the president, meat pie manufacturer Ted Parker (Graham Kennedy), is financially embarrassed and trying to pull a success out of the hat; the ex-president, Jock (Frank Wilson), is consumed with vanity and will not allow any player to beat his record; the manager plays both sides against the middle, the captain, Danny (Harold Hopkins) is getting too old for the game and is now on his last season, and while the players are on Laurie’s side, their mood is made worse by the fact that Parker has just paid $120,000 for Geoff Hayward (John Howard) – a new player they all despise.
As this group of men argues, it is revealed that Laurie, Danny and Ted are to be dismissed from the club because Jock and Gerry Cooper (Alan Cassell) – the club’s administrator – are dispensing with club tradition and adopting the business approach instigated by Ted.
Ted’s resignation is eventually forced because the club will not see him through an assault charge laid by a stripper, arising from an incident at a social evening. In fact, it is Gerry and Jock who have leaked the story to the press in a bid to remove Ted.
Finally, Geoff realises that he’d rather be coached by Laurie than anyone else, and the team – represented by Danny – agrees to aim for the finals so that the committee will be forced to renew Laurie’s contract.
The film is full of good ensemble playing but lacks a hero – there’s no single character to excite the audience.