57 Mt Pleasant Street (part 1)

Ladies and gents, welcome once again to a green top here at 57 Mt Pleasant Street where I’m joined of course by the man himself, “Slippery” Stan Archer. It was a big bumper weekend at 57 Mt Pleasant Street, with fierce and instructive engagements in cricket, tennis, international rules, rugby and free market economics. There’s a lot to get through, so now, let’s give him all a big hand; ladies and gents, and I’ll start by asking: what the hell has happened to Melbourne as the sporting capital of the universe, Stan?

 

Thank you very much, BJ, well I’m angry. I’m livid.

 

Are you?

 

I am, BJ. I am. And I’ll tell you why: administrators have made me look a goose. A prize goose.

 

Have they?

 

They have. I was entertaining on Friday night. Michael Phelps was over for a meet-the-girlfriend introduction.

 

Oh yes.

 

Yes and I was very excited to note that Australia and South Africa would be playing cricket that night at the MCG. I was planning to educate the man. “Watch this, Phelpsy,” I said to him. “This is what 100,000 sports fans looks like.”

 

And then you turned on the tele.

 

And then I turned on the tele. Tumbleweeds.

 

Yes. Why is that, Stan? The players can’t be at fault, can they? Look at SPD Smith there making another hundred? Or yer Faulkner. It doesn’t get better than that! What’s happened to Melbourne, Stan?

 

Administrators happened, BJ. Administrators.

 

What are they doing, Stan?

 

What aren’t they doing, BJ? They’re buggering up the landscape everywhere you look. There’s Cricket Australia and their family-friendly pricing options, there’s Cricket Australia again with their dodgy fireworks displays singeing the eyebrows of the fieldsmen, there’s the Chairman of the Football-Club-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless declaring 2014 a successful year, where do I stop?

I mean there’s the AFL allowing two players only recently issued with provisional doping suspensions, to PLAY ON THROUGH THE SUSPENSIONS, and not in some Mickey-Mouse practice game, but in representing their country. And of course it’s true that the game was a 100% farcical hybrid rules game whose rules nobody at all understands, but the principle remains.

 

Is that it Stan?

 

It is. It is if you DON’T COUNT the Wallabies’ half-arsed attempt at a No Dickheads policy and Cricket Australia again with their superb fixturing. I tell you, it’s a shemozzle.

 

Yes. It is. You’ve been an administrator, haven’t you Stan?

 

I have. You know I have, BJ. I organized the 1989 Australian cricket tour of England.

 

Did you?

 

Went like clockwork.

 

Did it Stan? What did you do differently?

 

Differently? I tell you BJ, I’m fuming. What I did differently was this: I treated everybody as a HUMAN BEING with fears and emotions and desires and needs. Everybody. Players, fans, media, the general public, aeroplane staff. Everybody.

 

Yes.

 

Yes I did. Sure, there were problems. Swampy Marsh and his nude nocturnal rituals. But I tell you what, whoever is making decisions in sport right now has their eye off the ball.

 

What are they doing wrong, Stan?

 

Let me ask you something: why in the wide blue yonder is anyone paid to “enhance the spectator experience”? One too many consultants got the cherry there. I tell you how to enhance the spectator experience, BJ, play a decent game.

 

Yes.

 

No one consulted the VFL about enhancing the spectator experience ahead of the 1970 Grand Final, did they? Any market research conducted? And 120,000 turned up. How many focus groups made powerpoint slides? How many survey questions were asked about enhancing the spectator experience in 1946? I’ll tell you. NONE. Yet Sidney Nolan painted them all there in his piece thoughtfully named “The Footballer.” Look at them all. They turned up.

The Footballer

Sidney Nolan’s “The Footballer”

 

Yes.

 

People know shit from substance, BJ. That’s it. And you know why they came? Because they loved the game. No songs. No booming voice overs. No fireworks. Just a good honest game, played well.

 

That’s it, isn’t it, Stan? People just want the game.

 

It’s about the game, stupid. And I’m not calling you stupid, BJ. No, no. Look, your administrator tactical cock-ups and over-scheduling are amateur errors, really. They’re not helping. But it’s the tinkering with the core that is the most damaging.

 

Damaging, Stan?

 

Damaging. Indeed. Not just to me, or Phelpsy. To the games, themselves. No one in TV land wants to watch a game played in front of empty stands. Just give us the game, administrators. Keep your consultants fees, keep your commentators. Keep your fireworks. Keep your international singers. Keep your contrivances. Your made-for-TV invented “franchises.” Melbourne Heat versus Melbourne Drought? Or is it Heart? Or Storm? Or Victory? Or Renegades? Or Bushrangers? Or City? Or Cities of Literature? What is it?

Keep your workshopped solutions to a corporate biller. We don’t want them. In fact, we avoid them. We see right through them. Especially when we’re asked to pay for them. We hate them.

 

Yes.

 

But that’s a negative emotion, BJ. I’m sorry. I get worked up. It hurts.

 

Why does it hurt, Stan?

 

Because love is suffering. That’s why. There’s always pain when love suffers. And why is love suffering, BJ? What do we love?

 

What do we love, Stan?

 

We love the game.

 

Ahhh, we do, well said.

 

We love the game, BJ. We are the custodians. We are the keepers of the flame.

 

Yes. Like the lighthouse.

 

The lighthouse. That’s it. We are the lighthouses. Perfect, BJ.

 

So what can we do, Stan?

 

Well, we can start by shining a very bright light into the orifices of Rod Marsh’s skull.

 

Ah yes, he’s an Australian cricket selector these days, isn’t he?

 

By title, BJ, yes. By title. Don’t forget he worked for the Poms for many years. We shouldn’t forget that.

 

He’s named Josh Hazlewood in the XII. How did you find young Josh?

 

Oh he’s a lovely kid. Lovely. Of course this supports my long-held belief, that anyone with the middle name Reginald will turn out alright.

 

Yes.

 

Left me a nasty rings-of-Saturn bruise on the inside thigh, the little bugger. Got a bit worked up after I lofted him out of the nets. Though he’s sadly inept with the guitar.

 

Is he?

 

Hopeless. An embarrassment to Tamworth.

 

I see. How do you see preparations for the First Test, Stan? How’s the Indians’ form on Aussie decks? Will any Aussies turn up to watch?

 

Great questions, BJ. Insightful questions. And I’d love to answer them, but I can’t. I can’t answer a single one. Who knows? It’s a mystery. The whole exercise. There’s no preparation. There’s no relevant form. There’s no anticipation building. It’s life in a vacuum. There’s no context. For any of it.

 

No. Well then can I ask you about the AFL draft?

 

No, BJ. No you cannot ask me about that odious cattle market.

 

No?

 

Look, for one thing, it’s cricket season. So let’s leave footy alone for a while. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, did you know that? Shall I write down that little pearl for the AFL? And for another thing, it’s all speculation. I can read speculative articles every week in the Property section or the Business pages. There’s less than no value entering into a draft conversation. Forget it.

 

So on that glowing note, it’s goodbye me and it’s goodbye from Stan. Goodbye from 57 Mt Pleasant Street for another week.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Were BJ and “Slippery” Stan Archer walking round the room singing ‘Stormy Weather’ at 57 Mt Pleasant St??
    Brilliant work Dave. Reckon J.Reginald Hazelwood will be a star at Test level.
    You can fight the sleep but not the dream….

  2. Don Meadows says

    I enjoyed that ER.
    When I got to “enhancing the spectator experience” I nearly cheered. There is nothing so frustrating at the footy as turning to your neighbour to share a thought about the game only to be drowned out by some loon on the loudspeaker.
    And come Grand Final day I’d happily scrap the entire “entertainment” for a junior game as a curtain-raiser.

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