By Kate Salemme

STRONG, tall, overpowering men are easy to spot on the streets of Coburg, yet there is one kind of man that stands out amidst the crowd. Although in theory he seems the same as the rest of them, he walks taller, prouder, and more assertive than the others. This man is a Collingwood supporter, and not only that; he is the leader of the most passionate football supporters, who follow one of the largest sporting clubs in the world. His blonde locks emerge from the bottom of his beanie, and even without donning the gold jacket, Jeff “Joffa” Corfe stands out in a crowd.

When we think about the “typical” Collingwood supporter, words such as “feral”, “no teeth”, “druggie”, “unemployed”, “racist” spring to mind. Yet, the leader of the pack dedicates his life not only to seeing a Collingwood premiership, but also to ridding the world of these stigmas. Will there ever be a day when we think of a Collingwood supporter as “charitable”, “decent”, “respectful” or “well-behaved”? Joffa certainly hopes so.
While most of us know him as the guy who wears a gold jacket, the 43-year-old Coburg resident challenges the stereotype. As he takes a drag of his cigarette, and sips his latte`, Joffa drops an unexpected bombshell. When he’s not supporting his Magpies, Joffa works as an after hours welfare worker for the Salvation Army and assists other charities. “I’m in charge of 57 men…making sure that the guys are safe, happy, we distribute medication”, he said.

Not only does he passionately help out the less fortunate, but he also combines his passions to help those in need. For the past three years, with the help of Collingwood President Eddie McGuire and the Salvation Army, Joffa designed Bring a Blanket Day, which he proudly says is “getting bigger every year”. In order to organise the day, it was important to both notify and include Mr. McGuire as it was staged at an official Collingwood AFL match. When asked how he approached the club, Joffa explained that because of who he is these days, he is able to call the club and speak to Mr. McGuire. Joffa raised the question, “why don’t we do this, there’s a lot of people out there really doing it tough, let’s choose one game a year where we can bring a blanket”, and Mr. McGuire was happy to oblige.

Joffa’s caring and supportive nature, however, is unlimited. Daniel Andrews explains that his close mate is always willing to help out his friends, not to mention his family. “Whether it’s to do with Collingwood or not, he’s concerned about everyone’s well-being.” Mr. Andrews tells of the way Joffa makes sure that everyone in the cheer squad knows where they are supposed to be, even in moments of sheer elation. “Even if Collingwood has just kicked a goal, we can go and ask him a question and he’s willing to help out”, he said.

Along with his charity work, Joffa believes in respectful and decent behaviour at football matches, but admits that like most of us, he suffers from a football split personality. “There’s two Joffas believe you me. There’s one that goes ape shit at the football… and the other one at home which people probably don’t care to see”, he said.

Before putting his game face on and throwing himself into the heat of battle, Joffa takes a step back to remind himself how to behave. You can image the Collingwood leader standing amidst his cheer squad leading the slow English Premier League style chant of “C-O-L-L-I-N-G-W-O-O-D”, while reminding himself to behave and limit his swearing. Despite his efforts, he admits that it all goes out the window when the umpire makes a typical bad decision against Collingwood in the goal square.

To football supporters who do not know the real Joffa, he is seen as a “feral”. Although some do not know him by name, the response to the question, “what do you think of Joffa?” will most likely be, “is he that feral Collingwood guy?” as Essendon supporter Chloe Hughes explained.

While you can be excused for believing he is just an ordinary guy having a coffee and a smoke in Coburg, while discussing the importance of helping others and the issues caused by alcohol consumption, you are reminded of who he is as the sleeve of his jacket reveals a tattoo on his wrist. The words “game over” emerge and you again see him as the cult leader with the gold jacket, telling the umpires and opposition supporters and players exactly what he thinks.