A Perth Sporting Weekend

It’s been a huge weekend of sport here in the West.  The Force showed the insipid Reds the door.  And the Glory and the Wildcats advanced deeper into Finals territory.  But of course all that paled compared with the arrival of the CATS on Friday.

That’s right the Champion Australian Team of Snorers (CATS) were in Perth for the Australian Snoring Championships.  As all keen sports fans would be aware, these also double as the Olympic Qualifying Trials every 4 years.

What readers may not know is that the WA champ is a family member.  And for my part I take on the role of John Tomic and Damir Dokic – combining parent, mentor, confidant and coach.

While snoring is now an Olympic sport, it is more like synchronized swimming and Greco-Roman wrestling – lacking the profile and revenue base of athletics or swimming.  Hence we were billeting a couple of the interstate competitors for the weekend.  Our local boy was nervous at meeting these renowned performers on the eve of a National Championship.

So I tried to keep him calm and focused before meeting them.  I stroked his fur and reassured him “Shandy – I’ve heard what you can do.  Some of your late night performances on the rug in front of the fire last winter were world class.”

Lunchtime Friday we headed off to the airport to collect JTHarms (the Northcote Nodder).  On sighting him, his fur stood up and he growled a couple of times.  Shandy barked in response, which I took as a good sign that he still had the competitive edge.

In the evening I told Shandy to get a good night’s rest, as I thought I could tire the Nodder out by exposing him to a group of reprobates and misanthropes known as the Perth Insomniackers.  But the Nodder was in his element.  3 hours in the Front Bar watching the Pies and Hawks just seemed to motivate him.  At dinner we were joined by some of his CATS mates including Gareth the Groaner who had won a Premiership with Tommy’s Tiresome Tigers in ’75 before returning to the CATS as first a player and now Board Member.

Then PJFlynn (Kid Kyneton) arrived and the evening really hit its straps.  The Nodder is a gifted amateur, but KK snores professionally.  He had arrived inPertha few days earlier and was lecturing doctors about advanced snoring techniques at a Sleep Apnea Centre in the northern suburbs.

“Not so fast,” I told these interstate interlopers.  This event has been organized to hear from some local talent.  We all agreed that the Oxford Hotel beer garden where we were dining, was a little breezy for delicate tonsils so close to the Championships.  So all 35 participants adjourned to the Urinal Vestibule to hear from the local greats.

Professor Sean Gorman told us about past Indigenous Snoring champions that WA had produced – the Katnap Krakouer’s; Slippers Syd Jackson; and of course the great Pyjamas Polly Farmer.  We were in awe.  Then Les from Fremantle interviewed the immortal Austin Robertson Jnr who snored over 100 times a season, 6 years in a row, for Subiaco in the WAFL in the 60’s and 70’s.

Insomniackers were thrilled at the presence of such greatness, and with snorts of appreciation all round, the crowd slowly dispersed to their own beds to see if they could live up to their idols.  The Nodder and I went to leave with them, but Kid Kyneton would have none of this.  “Premature somnambulation is a great disadvantage so close to the Nationals.  I’m having none of it.  I think I’ll kick on for the night,” he advised.  We took no notice, and left him to his punishing training regime.

Saturday was reserved for a lunch put on by the Perth CATS, where the Nodder was to be a guest speaker.  After a few beers he had them under his spell, and there was not an open eye in the room.  I had experienced his ruses before, so I stuck to lemon squash and managed to keep alert.  He carries with him a compendium of 214 stories designed to put readers to sleep, written by amateur snorers from all aroundAustralia.

He calls it the Footy Insomniac and he had put me in charge of selling this dubious tome.  The Nodder had reached the climax of his hypnotic address, when much to his disappointment Gareth the Growler arrived waving the Premiership Cup that had been awarded at last year’s Nationals.  This roused the local CATS into a temporary frenzy.

But we needn’t have worried, former CATS champion and local boy, John K Watts (who won the 1963 Cup) strode to the microphone to deliver his much lauded 45 minute Lucky Grills impersonation.  When I woke up there were 2 dozen copies of the Insomniac missing, and the day’s takings had disappeared at the Trans Australia Bank at the far end of the bar.  I took no responsibility this time.  Lucky Grills’ monologues are too overpowering for mere mortals to stay awake through.

Kid Kyneton was due to join us for the rest of the day’s activities, and we rang to check on his progress.  “I’ve been up all night preparing,” he chirped gleefully.  “I’m waiting for you at 444 like you told me.”  Seeing no sign of him, we enquired as to which 444.  “444 Great Northern Highway, Meekathara – just like you told me.  But I can’t see any CATS around here, just iron ore trucks.”

Shaking our heads we sent the Flying Doctor to retrieve him, arriving just in time for some strange ritual they were attending at Subiaco Oval.  Apparently the CATS were challenging the Fremantle Dozers in some competition.  I left them at the gates, rushing home to prepare Shandy for the Nationals later that evening.

I returned later, accompanied by the Avenging Eagle, to take them to the venue for the National Championships.  But the Kid was raving, incoherent and in no state to compete.  “That Adrian Ballantyne, I’ll murder him when I catch up with him.”  I told him that there was no ‘Adrian’ Ballantyne in the Dozers team.  “I know,” he said, “I meant Andrew; sorry Harold; I mean Aloysius Ballantyne.”  Then lapsed off into further incoherence.

By this stage I was beginning to worry about his frenzied state and whether he would still be able to compete.  So I forced the 6 stubbies I had brought with me for emergencies down the Kid’s throat.  This calmed him, but left me in a sweaty grimy state.  Thinking laterally, I poured a bottle of Sparkling Shiraz over my shirt and trousers to wash off the mess.

We finished our meal while we waited for the Police to escort us off the premises.  As soon as we got home, the dog knew all his years of barking had been for nothing.  He let out a few disconsolate growls and settled on his mat to twitch the night away.  He would be no competition for the Nodder and the Kid.

The Nodder lubricated the larynx with a little Rutherglen Muscat, then launched straight into his routine.  His eyes rolled back into his head as he spluttered into top form.  First the hesitant groan, and then the full forward press of sinus and larynx – with a little diaphragmatic assistance to top it off.  All at the steady beat of 3 a minute that judges look for.

When the Nodder came round I asked him to give me a few tips on how he did it.  He confessed that he did have an unnatural advantage that came about by childhood misadventure.  He was belting a golf ball against the Oakey tankstand in a bid to emulate Bradman, when he top edged one into the hooter – bending it at a 30° angle.  His Lutheran father asked the doctor to only straighten it halfway “to remind the little blighter to finish his homework first.”

The Nodder said the permanent bend gave him a snoring advantage, but he had only been able to compete professionally in recent years since the ICC (International Coma Council) had amended the rules to allow deliveries with up to a 15° bend in the septum.

Confident that he had the title in the bag, the Nodder retreated to bed for a little private preparation.  I could tell the Kid was worried.  Little beads of VB started to appear on his brow, as he sweated how he could top the Nodder’s performance.

The Avenger and I headed for bed, fearing that stage fright had got the best of the Kid.  We needn’t have worried.  As soon his head hit the sofa he was off.  Walls shook; blinds rattled and glass creaked in the window panes.

We smiled at each other.  Our Labradorwouldn’t be going to London, but we knew the Kid would be bringing home Gold, Gold, Gold forAustralia.  (Bruce will have to do the call from inside a soundproof booth).  We could sleep content (thanks to the cotton wool in our ears), knowing that we had played a small part in another Australian sporting triumph.

Come Sunday morning we bundled the Nodder and the Kid into the car and headed for the airport.  The Nodder back to Melbourne, hoping that with the weekend’s preparation he could earn the second spot on the team and a shot at Silver.  The Kid was heading to America claiming he was going to watch golf.  But ever the professional, we knew he was off to Arizona to prepare at a secret High Altitude Training Centre – where the lack of air expands the larynx and gives you those extra decibels in the frenzied last quarter of an Olympic final.

“Kid – far be it for an amateur like me to tell you how to suck eggs,” I hesitantly proffered, “but apart from last night’s cameo you haven’t slept for 72 hours.  The Games are only a few months away, so don’t forget to taper.”

We bid these elite athletes farewell and wandered home to watch the Eagles and the Bulldogs on TV.  My eyelids were drooping after struggling to keep up with these pros for just a few days.  The closeness of the scores kept me awake until 3 quarter time, when secure in our 5 goal lead I drifted off to Nod.

To bed.  To sleep.  Perchance to snore.




  1. pamela sherpa says

    Very clever and amusing Peter.

  2. Insomniackers – love it

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