Round 11 Review – The 2016 Charles Liston Cup

Greetings Tipsters


Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston never knew the day of his birth.  He grew up on a Missisippi plantation in the 1930s, began boxing while serving a gaol term for armed robbery.  He won the world heavyweight championship in 1962.


There are few sports as redolent of corruption as boxing.  There are none so elemental.  Two men punching each other.  The basis of aggression and competition since we fell out of the trees, probably because the fallen was punched.  That elemental nature also befits it for artistic exploration unlike any other sport.  Yes, it’s a key element in the shallow and nihilistic ‘Pulp Fiction’ but the very core of the unrelenting and masterful ‘The Set-Up’, 1949, starring Robert Ryan as an aging, proud boxer who can’t be convinced that it’s over.


Liston was born into a world that was never going to give him a chance.  He died in murky circumstances, he was forever defined by the most famous sports photograph of the Twentieth Century.  We’ll never know if he took a dive in 1965, but he’d never been knocked out before.  Perhaps he just wasn’t fit enough, he was a hard drinker.


Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr (what a wonderful name!) was a generation younger and grew up in the city.  He was hip and sharp, check the series of photographs of him and the Beatles in 1965.  In an interview 25 or 30 years ago, he looked out the window as the aircraft was making it’s final approach, at all the lights of the houses and said “I could walk into any of those houses and they’d know me.”


Muhammad Ali may have been uppity but Liston was dead scary.  He’s a footnote now, a punchline, too “ugly” to be champion and no-one is ever gonna make a movie about his life.  Track down ‘Night Train’, Nick Tosches’ biography of Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston and give it a good solid read.  I’m gonna start re-reading my copy as soon as I finish writing this.


Did the Tigers take a dive Friday evening?  Looked like it.  At least it’s spared us from another week of the Yellow and Black Army banging on about how they’re gonna, gonna, gonna.  Black and White Army copped a similar reality check.


The Wiggles and the Monaros are in a bind, no-one is gonna take them seriously until they win away against quality opposition.  Both went damn close this weekend, in the two best matches of the nine this weekend.  But close aint good enough, they have to win these games.


Freo won.  It had to happen eventually, they’ve played some good quarters the last few weeks and Essendon at Subiaco was ripe for the thrashing.  The nature of the match and The Pharmacist’s presser pointed to some disturbing trends.


I can’t be the only one to have doubted Essendon’s chances of having twenty-two fit players by August.  There’s a bunch of kids who would’ve been doing an apprenticeship in the VFL and some old blokes who were lying on the couch watching the cricket with a beer, slipping happily into their post-football lives when the call came through.


Players who’ve lost the edge of fitness and players who haven’t yet found it.  The Bummers exceeded expectations by winning a match, thank the Gods, but it’s only gonna get worse.  Winter, tho it may no longer feature muddy grounds – Carrara in a typhoon aside – does still test out teams, sorting pretenders from contenders.


Winter will test John and the EFC, it’s gonna be brutal.  Someone’s gonna make the call and allow Essendon access to VFL players, blokes who fill in for a game or two and get the club through twenty-two games.  There’s gonna be some carcrash percentage boosters that will Shape The Eight more than Magpies or Tigers could hope to.


R11, most years by now we got two, maybe three teams that we know can take the flag.  We got five or six this year.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the premiership team is the best team on GF day.  Not unlike boxing, it’s the last one standing.


Cheers, Tipsters


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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. On the money as always Earl. Watched your Monaros against the Cats. You were impressive but the Cats totally shut down your big forwards, and Joel Selwood gave the kids a lesson at the stoppages in the last quarter. Dunno about my Eagles. Our midfield looks thin, and our forward structure is all wrong with Darling getting in Kennedy’s way. Still anyone’s flag based on who gets going at season’s end.
    Liked your tribute to Sonny. All great double acts have a fall guy.
    Been trawling the web looking at Ali tributes and old fights. This monologue by a very young Billy Crystal (with Ali in the audience) from 1979 is worth watching:

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