Summer in the City

But not quite what John Sebastian was singing about. My ‘puter is dead, my work van near dead and I would’ve bought another by now if not for the broken toe…

There is no more useless external part of the body than the little toe. It exists only to be broken and all too easily. I walked into my office and that superfluous bony bit connected with some neatly stacked motorcycle accessories. Next day, I couldn’t walk. Hardly what this self-employed gardener wants in January.

But I was getting back into it a few days later and had almost caught up with my backlog when absentmindedness rendered some fingers mangled. Strangely, very few were interested in photos. I’ve no idea why. I’d always wondered what it’d be like to see your own bone and muscle, now I know.

The Test Cricket was great. I bought a digital radio so I could listen to ABC Grandstand at home and, for the first time in years, I got back into that summer vibe, with the teev muted, the radio on and, if you balance it right, music on the stereo. There was some great cricket played over those four Tests; India were a much more competitive team than their last tour, Steve Smith cracked records on a daily basis and the technology of shaping cricket bats has never been demonstrated so destructively.

I listened to 2UE’s cricket broadcast when in the van, more blokey than Grandstand, a great lineup of callers. Jones, Emburey, McGrath, Matthews, Chappelli, and few obvious ads, except when the soundboard went weird and they’d spit out at random moments – Fairfax Radio, eh?

The Detroit Lions made the playoffs and copped a grievously bad referee call against the #^&*ing Dallas Cowboys. Oh, the joy, the joy, when a call went against them the next week.

There were some stone gas fantastic playoff matches, the kinda games you might remember for years if they weren’t overshadowed by one of the alltime classic Superbowls.

Bill Belichik’s Dad, Steve, played for the Lions in 1941. He was a fullback, made three touchdowns. Natch, I wore my Lions T-shirt and wanted the Pats to win. There was a lot at stake – lose another Superbowl and Bill and Tom would have a slightly tarnished legacy. Win, and they become alltime legends.

The Seahawks were terrible for most of the first half. The O couldn’t get a first down, the D couldn’t do much against the short passing game. But, kinda like Geelong, Seattle can make up for it with a short burst of brilliance. The Patriots got to a 14-7 lead with 31 seconds left in the first half. Bada-bing, bada-boom, some sloppy Pats play and the Seahawks pulled off an unlikely touchdown.

Third term and they kept the foot down. Every drive a score, no first downs allowed to the Pats. When Tom threw his second interception, the odds were in favour of the Voodoo Chiles. Surely they’d just march it back downfield for another touchdown.

That was when I noticed this little rookie defensive back. He got his hands to a long pass from Wilson that might’ve been the game. The drive stalled and the Pats O got back on the grass for the end of the term.

Fourth, and the Pats got it together and started to play like they ought to. Tom marched ‘em downfield for a TD, the D stopped the Seahawks in their tracks. Tom marched ‘em downfield again and they had a four point lead with two minutes left.

Seahawks receive and now it’s timeouts and clock management and crikey I love this football code for its intricacy and detail. And the athleticism and skill and chances.

I’ve oft said that following Australian and American Football means I don’t have to bother with the other codes, cos I’ve got the extremes covered, the no-offside kicking game on the big paddock, the chess-like running/passing game. Yet there are similarities, the snap and the centre bounce, the long kick and the long pass, and Kearse’ juggling catch was one of those moments. That rookie Butler got in there to spoil but went to ground while the pass was being held. He regained his feet in time to shove Kearse over the sideline before he could run in for the touchdown.

First and goal, five yards out, Wilson hands it to Lynch, the Beast makes four, gets dragged down. Second and inches.

I’ve heard Pete Carroll’s excuse. It sorta makes sense. I’ve heard and read several expert commentaries. None has picked up on Darrell Revis’ post match interview, still in his jersey, that he was walking off when he was told ‘three cornerbacks.’

It wasn’t a complete goal-line D. The Seahwaks had three recievers, a tight end, a running back, they made the call and got it wrong, way wrong. A pass inside the hashmarks is a risky play. That little rookie, Mal Butler, read it perfectly and timed it beautifully, bumping Lockette at the precise moment, taking the ball almost out of his hands and scrambling out of the endzone.

Seattle Offensive Co-ordinator Darell Bevell, the man ultimately responsible for the call, blamed Lockette for not working hard enough. Darell, you might want to have a quiet word with Chris Matthews, almost the ‘from nowhere’ hero for the Seahawks, cos he was Rookie of the Year in the CFL in 2012 and you’d want to learn all you can about the CFL cos that’s where your career will take you now.

Still, it weren’t quite over, the Pats had the ball, sure, but Tom’s in the endzone for the snap and you never can tell, until the Seahawks started a brawl (can this ending get any better?) and coughed up another penalty.

Perky Girl and I were over at Colleen’s place, she knows more about American Football than anyone else I know, been following it for near 40 years and is a Dolphins fan, poor soul. She was rooting for the Pats too, we rode enormous waves of football emotion. We watched replays of that last Seattle play and noticed that Marshawn Lynch, the best running back in the NFL, who’d caught a long pass out on the line earlier, had slipped free of his man and was in the clear and heading for the corner. Not that I’d blame Wilson, he didn’t have time to read the play, it was just a little example of how good Lynch is and how wrong the call was.

On top of all that, Katy Perry’s halftime gig was super-impressive. Nothing that I care about, but, bloody hell, the time, money, effort that went into it paid off wonderfully. As long as we get that ‘How To Stuff A Wild Bikini’ song and dance every year, I’ll be satisfied.

I watched Australia beat South Korea on Satnite, a great match, enjoyed it immensely, but there aint much of it that I can remember now, not after Monday.

Americans know how to put on one hell of a show. They invented 20C popular music, took cinema and sport to another several levels, designed and built the 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda and a shedload of other stuff that we take for granted, like washing machines and vacuum cleaners and nanotech and mass production and keeping the sealanes clear for commercial shipping. Like a proud, aging boxer, the USA is on the ropes, gasping, but whenever I watch the Superbowl I’m reminded that I’m goldurned lucky to live in this corner of the world, where the Magna Carta and centuries of common law are taken for granted and we’re good mates with the only nation ever to be founded on an ideal.

I’m looking forward to Cricket’s World Cup. There’s some matches around Sydney before it really gets into gear, I’m gonna go see Afghanistan play.

“Aff-ganna-stan, oi, oi, oi!”

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. Good to hear from you Earl. Regards to Perky Girl.
    You might enjoy this article about Bill Belichik’s coaching genealogy which references his dad Steve as one of the great ‘scouts’. The technical arkana of US sport is amazing – like chess game diagrams.

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