The Coodabeen Champions have been an iconic fixture on Saturday morning radio for 40 years. Here’s why and how they are still kicking goals four decades on.
The Coodabeen Champions have been an iconic fixture on Saturday morning radio for 40 years. Here’s why and how they are still kicking goals four decades on.

Even a virus can’t stop the Coodabeen Champions

Having a laugh with the Coodabeen Champions on the way to the footy is as real as it gets for fans.

As Greg Champion has long mused: "That's the thing about football."

And even tough there is no football to help us through these days of isolation, the Coodabeens haven't bottomed out and are going strong in their 40th year.

Their unique comedy and ramblings endure each Saturday on ABC Radio from 10am.

Not bad for a couple of young graduates who started on community station 3RRR because they felt there was nothing on air where fans could have a voice.

Over the years they have included Simon Whelan and Tony Leonard plus today's Coodabeens Jeff "Torch" McGee, Jeff Richardson (Richo), Ian Cover (Covey), Greg Champion (Champs) and Billy Baxter.

 

The Coodabeen Champions in the late 1980s: Simon Whelan, Greg Champion, Julian Ross, Ian Cover, Tony Leonard and Jeff Richardson.
The Coodabeen Champions in the late 1980s: Simon Whelan, Greg Champion, Julian Ross, Ian Cover, Tony Leonard and Jeff Richardson.

 

"This is our 40th year … Blue Heelers didn't even go that long,'' Cover said.

"It seems like one long year to me. When we started we never had any idea or notion how long it would go for.

"But it keeps going because there are listeners who want it.

"We might have even been declared an essential service now.

"People say we need a chuckle, and need something normal in this crazy world.

"And even with footy suspended, we're doing two hours of that."

Favourite segments have included Covey's Quiz, Guru Bob and Footy Talkback with Torch.

Champion estimates he's sung 4500 songs.

"I jokingly say it's like three marriages, as far as hanging with the same wife or wives,'' he said.

"A song called VFL Park in the Dark, came out about 94, that's my favourite."

Champs credits long-time Channel 7 producer and head of sport, Gordon Bennett, as "the saint" in the rise of That's The Thing About Football which featured on Channel 7's football coverage for almost a decade.

"I met Mike Brady at a gig and he said let's try and write a footy song and six months later I had an idea and I took it to Brady and we cooked it up,'' he said.

"Then I sent it to Gordon, I reckon he might have been looking for another (Up There) Cazaly and he said I think you're trying to tell too much of a story.

"I said to Gordon 'do me a favour and listen to the end because it builds up', and he called me back saying, 'I like it now'. I haven't had a lucky break like that since."

Champion hasn't let the coronavirus escape his wit, writing songs about social distancing, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

 

 

CONUNDRUM OF FOOTBALL SONG

(To the tune of That's the Thing About Football, co-written with Dylan Leach)

I've got my handwash, my face mask on

I still dunno if there's a game to go to

Footy's off, footy's on again

Strange days indeed my friend, and

That's the mystery of That's the quandary of

The conundrum of, the challenge for football

I'll Skype my friend if we cannot go

we'll try and watch it, on an iPhone

Avoid touching, keep washing our hands

And be long range, loungeroom fans, and

That's the mystery of, that's the quandary of

The conundrum of, the challenge for football

That's where footy's at right now

Gotta get used to that somehow, and

That's the mystery of, that's the quandary of

The conundrum of, the challenge for football

 

SELF-ISOLATION SONG

(To the tune of Eve of Destruction)

The world we know is, disintegratin'

This is a shock to the whole population

The natural world may feel that a good thing

But the people never had it so confronting and they're CH.

Telling me, they're telling me, over and over again my friend

We've got to stay in complete, self-isolation

We've got to stay in complete, self-isolation

Think of all the people there are down in China

Think of all the people up in, Oodnadatta

This could track you down, if you're in, Humpty Do

It could come and get you in, Kalangadoo

When will it end, well, no-one can tell

When we can crawl back, out of our shells

We could miss a whole season of footy my friend

When will we ever watch a, game again

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING SONG

(To the tune of Locomotion)

Everybody's doin' it so just get it done now

Come on baby, keep a social distance

If you try it out you'll find it's buckets of fun, now

Come on baby, keep a social distance

It's something the authorities, want you to do

I don't mean a metre apart, I mean TWO

Come on come on, keep a social distance with me

Hey do not get too close now ... uh-huh

Step back, step back, yeah now another metre back

When you're out in public and You're caught in a queue now

Come on baby, keep a social distance

You will find it easy, when you know what to do now

Come on baby, keep a social distance

When you're in the grog shop See the tape on the floor

That's what the authorities, put it there for, so

Come on come on keep a social distance with me

Hey do not get too close now... uh-huh

Step back, step back, yeah now another metre back

Come on baby, keep a social distance

Come on baby, keep a social distance

 

HAND SANITISER SONG

(To the tune of Smoke on The Water)

We went to the supermarket to see what we could get

Everybody flocked there till there was not much left

We hoarded and we stashed it and then got more again

But though we tried and tried we could not score one thing - hand sanitiser!

Has anybody got some - Hand sanitiser!

When they spoke of scoring it once meant plastic bags

Back when folks were sharing interesting fags

Things that weren't quite legal people looked for them

Who'd have thought that one day the shortage would extend - to

Hand sanitiser!

Has anybody got some - Hand sanitiser

 

jackie.epstein@news.com.au

Originally published as Even a virus can't stop the Coodabeen Champions


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