It is not often, Digs and Bluebelles, that your correspondent is baffled by science. That day came during the great drought for the Carlton Footy Club in the 1950s when we could not secure a flag for love nor money. In 1956, perhaps the unluckiest year in the club’s history, a new Greek kid joined my class at Carlton Primary.

His name was Pythagoras and he had this thing about triangles. While all the other kids began a game of marbles at playtime by drawing a circle in the dirt, he would start with a triangle – often obtuse, sometimes isosceles but more often than not a right-angled triangle with a near-perfect 90 degree corner which he drew with a set square.

Pythagoras had this theory about the sum of the square roots of the other two sides being equal to the square root of the hypotenuse. It was all Greek to us at the time but it obviously worked for him and he cleaned up all the marbles in Elgin Street.

Anyhow, Carlton had a shocking start to the 1956 season until we came up against Collingwood in round five. The new Greek boy had by now joined with us Jewish, Irish and the Italian kids in the Carlton Cheer Squad and we gave the Magpies a severe toweling by 42 points at the Coliseum. I still don’t know how he did it.

We play Collingwood again at the G on Saturday and my old friend Pythagoras is once again working out how to triangulate them. Keen observers of Friday night’s game (on May the fourth) would have noticed that the new clash strip includes dark navy blue right-angled triangles on each leg of the white shorts. These bizarre “Brazilian” shorts give our players the appearance of having developed penguin tails but I suspect there is serious science at work here.

This brings me to the beautiful set of numbers that you find in team sports. A soccer team has 11 players; and an Aussie Rules team has 22 – counting the four players coming on and off the bench. Does this mean that soccer players are twice as good as Aussie Rules players?

Multiplying 11 by 2 brings us to the tricky world of irrational numbers. Two is an irrational number because it doesn’t have a square root. In mathematics, an irrational number is any real number that is not a rational number. Pythagoras, who grew up to be a professional gambler, always had a lot of problems with irrational numbers.

Waitey, whose father played many terrific games against Collingwood, gets the gold yamulka with silvers going to Scotto, T-bird, Big Red, Carraz and Tex. Carna Blues! TERRY MAHER