THE PRE WRAP – ROUND XXII – THE Blink & you lose ROUND
FOR THE PHILOSOPHICAL MARNGROOK FAN
What a week it’s been in Footy Wrappers. We had our first OMG moment early on when the Ayatollah and the Appalling Football League backed off and allowed the Essendon Football Crisis extra time to prepare its defence of the charges laid and set to be heard on the 26th inst. To quote Shoeless Jim when the charges were first laid – “The four of us are probably identified as [part of] the blackest day in Australian Sport now, so we take that very seriously” So Shoeless, does that put you up there with the day Phar Lap died? (He was poisoned by the Yanks Wrap, you know that – Ed) The day Bert Oldfield was felled by a Larwood bouncer? (We suspended consular contact with the Mothercounrty over that ball – Ed) The day Les Darcy died? (Put that down to the Septics too – Ed) Or was it the day the Australian Crime Commission’s 12-month investigation revealed the increasing use of performance enhancing drugs across multiple codes, and highlighted links with organized crime? Really Shoeless, you do have to get out a lot more. That cloistered world you’ve encased yourself in has caused a total loss of perspective.
And don’t you love the PR from the AFL? You know the one. The one the EFC is calling a significant backdown concession. It goes along the lines that all parties would be granted extra time to prepare their case adequately if required. You’d be excused for wondering why they set the hearing date at the 26th in the first place if they thought the defendants would need extra time to mount their case. For that matter you’d wonder why the defence wasn’t ready to hit the ground running. If they’re so damned innocent, as they claim, you’d reckon they’d have the brief already laid out wouldn’t you? Champing at the bit to charge into the fray. Shoeless has certainly been crying bring it on since the day this scandal broke. How come he’s not ready to come out swinging when the bell rings? (You don’t think that maybe, just maybe, the $10K a day silks feeding off this cadaver could have anything to do with it would you Wrap? – Ed)
Don’t know what you’re take on all this is Wrappers, but from here in the Wrapcave it’s looking more and more like an overblown hissy fit than an arm wrestle. (While not taking focus off the seriousness of the charges Wrap; not doing that – Ed) What’s more there’s little to suggest that until we deal with the distorted egos we’re not going to get around to fixing what is obviously wrong with the whole drugs in sport issue. When young men can have their sporting lives wrecked for imbibing, albeit unwisely, substances that can be bought across the counter there needs to be leadership from the country’s sporting bodies. We need to have clear guidelines set down as to what’s legal and what’s not legal. This hasn’t a chance of happening while the current spat is overshadowing the real issue exposed by Essendon’s petulant and wilful response to the exposure of their cavalier attitude to their players’ wellbeing, and the pharmacologically experimental environment they initiated at the club.
And the real question should be, if the Essendon players have been injecting and/or imbibing illegal substances why hasn’t it shown up in the regular testing programs carried out by ASADA/AFL examiners? Which in turn raises several more questions. If not, why not? Is the testing inadequate? Are The Bombers innocent of drug cheating? If it wasn’t performance-enhancing substances being administered, what exactly was going on behind those indemnity statements and in those off-campus clinics? And to what gain – supposed or otherwise? What’s an illegal substance and what’s not?
The riddle doing the rounds of the playground is; if Handy Andy, Shoeless Jim, the AFL & the EFC were in a plummeting plane and there was only one parachute, who would be saved?*
But let’s not lose our own perspective here Wrappers. The Bombers are making claims about the way this whole process of investigation unfolded. We’ll leave the claims about what was said or not said during that phone made by the Ayatollah to David Evans’ house – where conveniently DE was joined by Shoeless Jim, Doc Reid & Danny C and the now departed CEO, Ian Robson – before the ACC released the findings of its report. But when Essendon put up their hand to admit that they may have inadvertently hit the cricket ball that smashed the window in the science lab, who amongst us didn’t raise an eyebrow? And when a few days later, the ACC report hit the headlines, who amongst us didn’t raise the other eyebrow? All season, like Shoeless Jim, we’ve been waiting for the truth to come out. Looks like it’s on its way. We’re sure there’s few surprizes left in this one. Just conformation what we’ve all suspected all along.
Our OMG Moment II came later in the week. When the Appalling Football League offered the Essendon Football Crisis an out. It wasn’t a bad offer either. Hang up the boots for 2013, forfeit draft picks for two years and pass the hat around the coterie groups to the tune of two and a half mill plus. Oh, and Wilful Jim to take a year’s sabbatical. Certainly something that Mr & Mrs Football and all the Little Footballs would be prepared to accept.
With the AFL & the Football Public thoroughly sick to death of the whole schemozzle, the parties were only seeking some sign of contrition before closing the book on the Blackest Event in the History of The Indigenous Code, what did we get from Whingy Hill? That’s right Wrappers, more of the same. OMG!!!
And honestly, you don’t have to be Mandrake the Magician to work out who’s going to finish up the winner in all this. When the smoke of battle clears there’s only one champion who can hold the field.
But our hearts go out to the Moderates caught in the trap of tribal loyalty. How many rational & fair-minded Bombers must be cringing over the actions of their elders? Their elected leaders? How many Essendon Families & Friendships have been sundered by the recalcitrance of the club’s leadership? Is there going to be funds to counsel them? Is there going to funds to rebuild the club? Are Essendon going to go the way of University? And become a dot on the flypaper of history?
OMG III came when in scene that could have been captured by Michelangelo or Caravaggio, the AFL Presidents gather to pay homage to the Ayatollah. Having them kiss the hem of the Great Helmsman’s robes was a touching and powerful moment.
You see, The Appalling Football League would love to get rid of a Melbourne team, and with Tassy champing at the bit for a team from The Apple Isle the demise of the EFC would play right into their hands. We all thought Melbourne would have been the perfect fit for a southern migration. The Tasmanian Devils based in Hobart playing before crowds of 15K would have been a seamless shift. But with the Hermit Kingdom further isolating itself from reality, the chances of it becoming the first team since University to become a dot on the flypaper of the AFL narrative is increasing by the moment.
Before all those bewildered, demented and delusional Bombers reach for their keyboards, let’s follow the bouncing ball across the screen.
v Legal advice has it that the EFC – by not providing a safe working environment & health & safety breaches – has broken its part of their contract with its staff: the players. Leaving them free to put their names up on the draft board.
v The financial fallout from all this ligation is going to be horrendous. Then there’s the penatlies the AFL will use to recover their costs. Crippling is a word that springs to mind.
v And not every Bomber Faithful is as fanatical about saving Willful Jim’s reputation (Such as it now is – Ed) as the banners & Mexican sombreros on match day would suggest. The penalties, when finally decided won’t be less than the compromise offer already made to the EFC, and could be in fact considerably more. (They’d have to be considerably more, otherwise the original offer would lose its conciliatory import – Ed) How much tin rattling do you think would be needed amongst a fractionalized membership? And don’t you worry about solidarity, there’s plenty of rational Supporters out there in Bomberland who are man & woman enough to cop it sweet and get on with the job of rebuilding their club’s tarnished reputation.
v Regardless of how the Supreme Court ruling goes, the AFL is the governing body. And 17 of the clubs that make up the AFL have undertaking to stand by the League. And did you hear any supporters of those 17 clubs calling the respect shown for the ruling body as shameful? Neither did we.
v ASADA has delivered an Interim Report. The Final Report could still see Joe Daniher & David Zaharakis as the only eligible players Essendon can call on next season. (Or even the one after that. – Ed)
That will do for the moment. But you’re starting to get the deeper implications for the world as we have known it through three centuries now. We got over University’s demise. We’re even coming to grips with what happened to Fitzroy, and how many Emerald Hill Faithful are left out there? That’s right Nurelle, they used to play on the ground behind Red Heads. Red Heads gone too? Crikey, it’s an ever shift world.
Meanwhile there’s a Football Season drawing to the conclusion of the Home & Away series of matches. Earlier in the week, the teams that would play off in September was pretty well settled. Except for 8th spot. This one, dare it be said, unless Port can topple Freo over there, could go down to the wire. Of course, that presumes The Miseries can keep their options alive by toppling Essendon.
There is one item we’d like to bring up before we review this weekend’s matches. Misleading Advertizing. It’s been brought to our attention that The Westpac Magpies have been inflating their membership numbers by conning the Carringbush Faithful into buying Monochrome Jumpers attached to a 3-game membership for $20. It turns out that this is only the deposit and the real price is drawn from their credit card account in manageable monthly instalments ad infinitum. While we feel that the consumer watch organizations are well placed to deal with the issue, we feel impelled to ask – is $20 the value the average Black & White Army member puts on the Guernsey and three game entries?
But enough of my gabbin’. Let’s see who is going to be going through after Round XXII.
Carringbush v West Coast to open proceedings for The Penultimate Home & Away Round. The Pies OTR v The Wedgies on a bitingly cold Friday night on the MCG. Not this time Weagles. You haven’t done enough all year, and it’s hard to see you starting now. Not with The Maggies in the mood they’re in after last week’s overpowering. The Figjams are $1.12, and that looks about right.
The Free Settlers v The Fuchsias at the Crow Park tonight. Yawn. Adelaide. And The Bagmen have The Chardonnays out at $1.12. That’s surely a misprint. Just in case it’s not, break into the kids’ school account and pile it on The Pride of South Australia.
The Boomers v The Mayblooms under cover for the early one on Saturday at the traditional time. The Shinboners flogged their Old Traditional Rivals last weekend, but this weekend they’re playing their Traditional Rivals from the 70s. And it’s not going to be all that easy for them this weekend. They’ve lost Grima and omitted Sierakowski while regained Firrito & Zimbel. The Hawks have too much of everything and are limbering up for the pointy end of the Season. Guerra’s back but they’ve lost Poppy. The Bagmen have them at $1.36, so you might like to bolster the holiday savings account here
The Pivotonians v The Bloods at Cat Central in the gathering gloom. The Homeside have regain their MVP over the last decade – Selwood & Abblett included – and must reckon that the Big Tomahawk is not afraid to bend over anymore. They’ve omitted Walker & Murdoch. The Moggies have played like millionaires against some of the lower sides throughout the season, while excelling against their piers. The Bloods haven’t faired all that impressively against the top sides. That, plus HGA*, Ward Rooney’s sheep weather alert and current form has us leaning towards The Handbaggers. But at $1.45 keep your hands in your pocket.
Caaarlton v The Club That Dare Not Speak Its Name on the Big Stage for Saturday night’s Schadenfreude. No real need to go over the teams and contests is there Wrappers? The Miseries taught The Tiggers a lesson last week, and they’re about to do the same to The Ignominies. And for all those who have so maliciously tried to pin an anti-Carlton bias on the Wrap – Eat ‘em alive Bluebaggers! (it’s been a longer season than I thought Wrap; why don’t you take a few weeks off – Ed)
The Stevedores v The Power From Port over there on Saturday night. The Barry Crockers will miss Big Laurie, but that’s all they’ll miss. It will be interesting to see how well Port handle this test, but we’re going for The Purple Haze.
The Saints v The Suns under cover for the early Sunday match. Sorry Sainters, you’ve given TLSJOF little to cheer about all season, and we’re not going to send you off to Ethelred Stadium with much hope on Sunday. You’d ride your wind surfer around from Johanna Beach to watch Lenny Hayes & The Little Master go at it hammer & tongs, and to boo Nasty Milne, but that’s as good as it’s going to get. And that’s right Wrappers, The Sunbeams are The Wrap Roughie of The Round.
The Orangemen v The Striped Marvels at Skoda for the middle Sunday match. It’s been said that TLSPRF were singing The Struggletown Anthem at quarter time last week. They won’t fall for that one again. Sorry Giants, but you’ve picked a bad time to play The Tigers. Richmond.
The Bad News Bears v The Bulldogs up under the palms to finish off the round. We’re going for The Rampaging Sons of The Mighty West here. They’re in scintillating form and really Wrappers, it’s been no Brown no Brisbane for most of 2013. And at $2.55 you’d have to split The Wrap Roughie of The Round here. The Boys of The Bulldog Breed for us here in the Wrapcave.
Good tipping and even better punting.
And remember, if you read it in the Wrap you’ll know it’s not crap.
- HGA – Home Ground Advantage