Written in 1974 by David Williamson for the stage, 'The Club' is a sports/political satire based loosely around the Collingwood Football Club. The play has one set, the boardroom of the Collingwood Football Club, and the main characters move in and out of the room via two doors.
Jock and Gerry make plans
Central to the story is Club president Ted Parker, a successful businessman who owns the local pie factory, Parker's Pies. The Club is struggling on field and has not won a premiership in nineteen years and Ted has come onto the committee with a promise of modernisation. In the process he signs a promising young Tasmanian player, Geoff Hayward, but right at the start things go wrong. Geoff's former club and Collingwood have agreed terms and just when they present the contracts to Geoff for him to sign he pulls the pin and asks for more money. The Club are at their limit with what has been offered already, so Ted reaches for his own cheque book and asks "how much?Ē Geoff wants another $10,000, Ted obliges and when word of this gets to Geoff's new teammates he is automatically ostracised from the team.
The coach, Laurie Holden, is a long serving legend of The Club and has been coaching for several years with no luck. The players love him but the committee. Jock and Gerry, deliberately keep him at armís length as they plot to replace Laurie. Jock and Gerry also want to replace Ted and they set him at a Club function to try and force him to fall on his sword. Jock is also a past legend of The Club and also coached The Club to multiple premierships until he was replaced by Laurie. Gerry is a business savvy administrator who has never played the game and doesn't particularly like it, but is considered the best at what he does. Initially Gerry plays the mediator role when conflicts arise as he manipulates the passion of the moment to his advantage, but eventually Laurie sees through this and in a particularly heated exchange calls Gerry an "oily weasel".
Club captain, Danny Rowe, is nearing the end of his career and the committee want him replaced. Danny fiercely defends his ability, knowing he has a few more years of service left in him. He has the full backing of his coach which only serves to further wedge the committee against the playing group.
On field, Geoff Hayward is completely discouraged from playing and simply makes up the numbers which attracts the ire of his coach and teammates given how much The Club paid for him. The season starts terribly for The Club. Rumours abound of Laurie's replacement and scouting for new players. The committee starts to self destruct and their real motives become apparent. Laurie and the players, including a re-motivated Geoff Haywood, take on a fresh approach to the season and start to believe in themselves again and Laurie throws out the challenge to win the premiership, because the committee actually want them to fail so they can forge ahead with their plans for major changes.
The movie cast (Cast overview, first billed only)
Jack Thompson ... Laurie Holden
Graham Kennedy ... Ted Parker
Frank Wilson ... Jock Riley
Harold Hopkins ... Danny Rowe
John Howard ... Geoff Hayward
Alan Cassell ... Gerry
Maggie Doyle ... Susy
Lou Richards ... Commentator
Toni-Gay Shaw ... Stripper
Jack Harris ... First club official
Frank Raggatt ... Second club official
Jim Cain ... Third club official
Gary Files ... Second football commentator
Ed Turley ... Tony
Scot Palmer ... Newspaper reporter 1