Roof reading

When John sold his business, he added a contract clause to protect his beloved Pies signage

Is Tasmanian man John Howard the state’s biggest Collingwood fan?

It’s hard to say, but he’s created arguably the largest dedication in Tasmania, visible from airplanes departing Hobart Airport.

In 2010, Mr Howard emblazoned 15-metre-long letters reading “Go Pies” on the roof of his business in Cambridge.

The rooftop dedication is one of many Collingwood-themed additions to the business, made by the self-confessed “madly passionate” fan.

And when he sold up in 2020, Mr Howard ensured his love letter to Collingwood would remain in place, with a clause in the lease stating “hands off” the Pies.

The lease clause protecting the rooftop sign and gate.(Supplied: John Howard)

A love of the Pies, seen from the sky

Mr Howard calls the creation of his rooftop “Go Pies” sign a prophetic decision, given the premiership outcome that year.

After a nail-biting final with St Kilda saw the teams draw, Collingwood took out the premiership in a replay the following weekend — the first of its kind in 33 years.

Roof reading

John Howard’s handywork can be seen from the sky.(Supplied: John Howard)

In a addition to Mr Howard’s rooftop dedication, a custom gate reading “Go Pies” greets visitors to the building, and themed window dressings also point to his devotion.

Of the roof, he said premium paint would ensure little retouching was needed in its lifetime.

“It’s my legacy to the universe for the next 50 to 100 years,” Mr Howard said.

Business hand-balled to fellow fan

When Mr Howard moved on from the business 10 years after creating his masterpiece, a contractual obligation to not alter the Pies sign and gate, and to grant him access to the roof to maintain the larger-than-billboard-sized letters, was included in the sale of the business.

For incoming general manager Jason Lanham, a life-long Collingwood fan, it sealed the deal.

“It was a marriage made in heaven,” Mr Lanham said.

“It made the difference between having a good think about it and deciding it was the right thing to do.”

Metal large gate that reads

A custom made gate at the business reads “Go Pies”.(Supplied: John Howard)

Continuing the tradition, the present owners have company cars with custom plates featuring former Collingwood players’ names — including Alan Didak and Peter Daicos — and they plan to add more to their fleet.

“Every time we send one of our products out to our customers, it’s got a “Go Pies” stickers on it,” Mr Lanham said.

“It’s not just within the building, it goes out there as well.”

‘About time we squared the ledger up’

Both Mr Howard and Mr Lanham will be in Tasmania for Collingwood’s grand final match with the Brisbane Lions today.

“I always make sure I stay with the family, of course all of them are Collingwood supporters,” Mr Howard said.

“We all get together and scream at the TV — at quarter to six when it all finishes, we’ll be crying, but whether it’s tears of joy or maybe we might have lost — we don’t know.

“In my lifetime, I’ve seen two draws, 15 grand final losses and only three wins – its about time we squared the ledger up.”

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Author: Russell White