Tennis: Things to look for at the Australian Open

By John Butler * Numerous folk called Bruce, Baz or Cheryl suddenly discovering long lost Swedish or Spanish heritage and a love of foreign flags and group chanting. * Maria Sharapova’s picture to appear at least daily in the major metropolitan papers. Some of the pictures may even relate to tennis.

Bikes, bats, lycra: a big weekend in Ballarat and Bunni

Local civic and political leaders rarely miss a chance to proclaim Melbourne the “sporting capital of the world”, or “the world’s most liveable city”, blah blah. Whilst I agree that our beloved state capital is a very nice place to live (for most) and a fine sporting town, would it be too cynical to suggest [Read more]

Mysteries and Demons revisited: An Australian miracle, a Pakistani collapse.

They call it Test cricket because it has a tendency to test all your resources, both mental and psychical. I wrote yesterday of demons and mysteries. At that stage, it was Australia battling the demons, and Pakistan which held all the mystery. Well, as they say, a day is a long time in cricket (and [Read more]

Mysteries and Demons: Not a Dan Brown sequel, but a Pakistani blockbuster

Pakistan has always been one of the most fascinating cricketing nations; though not always for the right reasons. There’s usually an alleged teenage prodigy of indeterminate age, who often turns out to be 26 years old and a father of three; the continual unexplained revolving door of captains, coaches and virtually everyone else in the [Read more]

Punter’s Predicament

A good trick in life is to get out while you’re ahead. No one wants to be stuck with the cleanup when the party’s over. It’s often better for your reputation to remain a vision of eternally splendid youth, than to suffer the indignities of ageing. To be Jim Morrison, not Mick Jagger. Team sports [Read more]

Footy Talk: Gary Ablett jnr talks to God (not his Dad, the Guy Upstairs)

Gary Ablett jnr: You’ve already met. God: What can I say? Allegedly the only bloke (blokette?) who can hit a one iron. Initial negotiations with GC17 had been unfruitful… and rather baffling. Gazza felt no closer to resolving his dilemma. Having finally made it back from Queensland, his Manager decided to be proactive. Player managers [Read more]

Footy: Gary Ablett jnr and Joh talk turkey (or is that chooks?)

Gary Ablett Jnr: Son of you-know-who. Two time Geelong premiership player, Brownlow medallist and dazzling on-field magician. Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen: Former Queensland Premier, plantation paternalist and gerrymander general. Ruled for over 20 years with a unique blend of authoritarian cronyism, faux naivety, homespun ruthlessness and pumpkin scones. Gary jnr is astride the proverbial horns of [Read more]

Cricket: What if they had a game and nobody came?

If you’re asking the above question, there’s a fair chance that you’re at a Sheffield Shield match. Yours truly was moved to venture down to the Big Smoke to watch day one of the Victoria v South Australia Shield clash. This decision was mainly prompted by a desire to see Brad Hodge’s MCG Shield swansong. [Read more]

Footy Talk: Richo and Hamlet ponder what might have been

by John Butler Setting: Matthew Richardson – magnificent, flawed prince of the Richmond Football Club. Recently retired after 282 games, no premierships and not enough finals. Hamlet- tragic, flawed prince of Denmark (long before the guy who married the Tassie realtor).

Could we please review the Review?

by John Butler An issue which has already commanded far too much attention this summer is the new review/referral system. So naturally I’m going to add to the clamour. My initial judgement on the changes made to this system were along the lines of “much ado about nothing”; that it would be just another of [Read more]

Second Test, Day 1 – Bravo Bravado

by John Butler The lead up to this game was again dominated by dire prognostications on the state of Test cricket, the state of West Indies cricket and various predictions on the state of the Earth (emanating mainly from Canberra). I leave the state of the Earth to those better informed, but can’t help feeling [Read more]

Footy Talk: PT Barnum and Kevin Sheedy plan to put on a show

By John Butler Setting: PT Barnum: legendary showman and entrepreneur, founder of Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey’s Circus and famous for pulling hoaxes and working freak shows. Often attributed the quote “there’s a sucker born every minute.” It’s a surprise he hasn’t worked for the AFL before now. Kevin Sheedy: really needs no introduction. With [Read more]

No balls a problem for Windies bowlers – and Tommy

1st Test Gabba: Australia v West Indies- Day one by John Butler Preoccupations on a sunny Brisbane day Another Test season begins amid rain clouds over scenic Mount Helen (my humble abode). Break the champagne over the bow, or rather, wheel out Greigy and Heals for another pitch report. For a pitch that looks like [Read more]

Footy Talk: Mick Malthouse and Sun Tzu talk tactics (mostly off-field)

By John Butler Setting: Sun Tzu: ancient Chinese warrior general, author of the Art of War and in many ways the original Director of Coaching. Michael Malthouse: as we all know, is soon to be Collingwood Director of Coaching. In his never-ending quest to bring world’s best practice to the Lexus Centre, President Ed has [Read more]

Footy Talk: Ziggy Stardust & Chris Judd discuss the Messiah burden (and other matters)

by John Butler Setting: Fleeing the rock ‘n’ roll craziness of the 70’s, Ziggy Stardust ended up running an underground backpacker’s in Coober Pedy (a long story). He finds that he blends in with the local wildlife surprisingly well. His hair now tends more grey than fluorescent red, and a middle age paunch hangs over [Read more]

Princes Park Days: Blue Reflections

By John Butler Nostalgia is said to be a sure product of advancing age. It is equally sure that those of us old enough to remember the days of suburban footy grounds are susceptible to rose coloured remembrance. Like favourite songs forever linked to formative life experiences, each tribe has a repository of memories held [Read more]

AFL General Writing: He’s not a role model, he’s just a naughty boy

By John Butler A fine football season has reached a fitting climax. The rituals of triumph and despair will play themselves out in the competing team camps for some time to come. Grand Finals never turn out grand for everyone. Another growing post-season ritual has already snuck an early start. The annual Spot the Drunken [Read more]

General Footy Writing: Black and White through shades of Blue

Warning: the following will contain biases which are impossible to conceal. Another Magpie campaign has come-a-gutsa at the hands of the formidable Cats. Once again the black and white army is left to its disgruntled contemplation of what might have been … My heart beats Old Dark Navy Blue, and seldom will I be seen [Read more]

Cricket: No need to panic; Australians just need to take block and start again

In an age in which media inquisitions are compulsory and reflexive, the loss of the Ashes will inevitably prompt a torrent of opinion on the source of failure, closely aligned with a rousing chorus of “What is to be done?” In this environment I am (perhaps unwisely) tempted to add some thoughts to the hubbub.