The 2012 ’Mopsy’ Fraser Cup – Round Eleven

Greetings Tipsters

It starts, it stops, it starts again, stacks on the mill, twenty players within 20 metres of the ball, one falls on the ball, a dozen more fall on him, everyone stands around watching for a while until the umpire whistles and those prone are dragged to their feet one by one and the guy at the bottom finally achieves verticality, hands the ball to the umpire who checks left, right, behind with more diligence than a traffic cop at a protest rally and then he does the little jig, thumps the ball into the turf and it all starts again for a few more seconds, unless, and this does happen every now and then, unless one of the players last seen somewhere in the middle of the ruck manages to drop it onto the boot and every so often the kick will clear the pack and there might be a another two or three kicks or handpasses and there might be a goal or it might all just ground to a halt again, which is the way it’s often played, so reckons Hungry and Lethal agrees with him, that it’s all just far too much of something that would not look anything like Australian Football if the teams were to swap their club strips for Wallabies and All-Black strips and they’ve got a fair point, ,it less and less resembles the game we remember where full-forwards lurked around the goalsquare and half-back flankers prowled that part of the field near the boundary, occasionally darting back to thump the cheeky forward pocket and then running up field to shirtfront the skinny speedy wingman and rovers roved and centres were to be found in the centre and everyone ran around a bit, but not everywhere as they do now, and it’s not unlike a kids’ soccer match, not unlike the football match described in detail and at great length in ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ probably the oldest description to be found because it described a football match around 1840, before there was any codification, when any number of folks on any size of field would form a massive, barely-mobile ruck and kick and hack and punch each other as they tried to get the pig’s bladder to the school gate at one end or the old elm a mile and a half away at the other end, so maybe what we’re witnessing is a devolution, bizarre in its form that ultra-fit full-time professional uber-athletes should have led us to this point but it was predictable enough ten or twelve years ago that the level of physical capacity would eventually lead to this, that coaches would make the most of the players at their disposal and if they were capable of running all day, then run all day they would, but it does raise the question, that if they’re so damned fit, why do they need to have an interchange bench ticking over like a doomsday clock on fast forward and Hungry was onto something when he suggested that we just do away with the interchange altogether and have six substitutes except that he didn’t go far enough because if a nineteenth man was all that was required when players trained two nights a week and worked as cellarmen and brickies labourers during the week and ate a mixed grill for breakfast late on Saturday morning then why would anything up to a twenty-sixth man be needed now because they’re all uber-athletes and spend a fair chunk of most days in meetings watching special edits of footy matches on the big screen before going out to do some skills work or utilising a few of the dozens of high-tech fitness machines in the gym, all of this coming on top of the “gruelling” pre-season, so all in all, it’s hard to see why 700 rotations a match are really necessary since it’s resulted in the game going back to the future and while there’s a lot to like about the way the game is played these days, it’s fast, it’s hard, the skills are often breathtaking but the sight of 36 players all jammed into one pocket is not all that uncommon these days and it’s becoming a bit tiresome but having said that not so tiresome that rule changes such as so many forwards having to stay here or there should be introduced because that is basically an offside rule and such a rule would fundamentally change the game more than any other rule that’s being introduced since Tom Wills and his mates penned out the first codification in the back room of a pub in 1859 and, in case anyone tries to argue the point about soccer being the original football code, well, it wasn’t codified until 1863 so the alltime original football code is the one that we watch and love and sometimes we just get a bit annoyed at it being tinkered and tampered with and if we’re going back to the future can we go back to the nineteenth man and two compulsory longnecks of dark ale per player after each match, to be drunk in the company of the opposition and the umpires, that’d be good for football, as would a continuous flowing game.

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. Earl – you are a Ross Lyon among Almanackers. Your piece is as unreadable as his teams are unwatchable. Which is the point I guess.
    Congratulations, whatever you said.

  2. The Wrap says

    Earl, you’ve nailed it. Or I think you have. The Game’s not better, just different. At the elite level at least. My grass roots Footy is confined to watching grandkids maul the ball across acres of wind swept onion grass paddock in the coastal sand belt on the east side of Port Phillip Bay. They’re not up to the king brown stage ater-match yet, but when they are, i hope they do it the old way. Maggots and all.

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