The 2015 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup – Round One

Greetings Tipsters,

Sitting in the kitchen, bright sunlight reflecting off the old brickwork near the doorway, cricket on the radio, Australia are making it look tough for their bowlers.

It’s been a beautiful day. There is no better weather than Sydney in autumn. The humidity disappears, it’s pleasantly warm out, evenings run late. Our kitchen is a beauty, brightest room in the house, a wonderful western view from the back steps of slate and terracotta tile roofs, eucalypts, jacarandas, a ti-tree and a mango and several more. The loungeroom, with 45 feet of overloaded bookshelves and a seriously loud, “turn the volume past 12 o’clock and the cops will be here soon” stereo is a few steps away so I can duck in to catch teev highlights as they happen. Or change the music.

I read Frank Keating’s ‘Another Bloody Day In Paradise’ in November, the account of England’s thoroughly disastrous tour of the West Indies in 1981. It put me in the mood to really enjoy a Test series like I haven’t for years.

Been enjoying the World Cup too. I’ve never been a big fan of limited over cricket, perhaps because I used to read Bill O’Reilly’s column in the SMH when I was of an impressionable age. Tiger hated one-day matches and once wrote that a team need only select eleven batsmen in order to win.

But the past is a different world. Just take a look at Dave Warner, more lean and muscled than any footballer of fifteen or twenty years ago.

Elite sportsmen used to be elite because they were talented. They had regular jobs, lived more or less regular lives. If some got into a bit of trouble, well, the friendly journos would let it slide, wasn’t as if there were any photographs. Hey, he’s a sportsman, any of us could’ve gotten into a bit of trouble…

When Nick Riewoldt was drafted I thought that here was the first of the new breed. A fulltime professional who’d been in the system for almost as long as he could walk, a champion footballer, how much does he know of regular life?

None of us would expect the average pop/rock star to know anything of regular life, we don’t expect them to be role models for children, so why expect that of professional footballers? Nick has always conducted himself with care and dignity, writers like an easy analogy, Ben Cousins lost the plot bigtime this week.

I barely know what it’s like to have hand-eye co-ordination, let alone win a Brownlow and a Premiership, but I do know what it’s like to prefer being wasted to the alternative. Life getting you down? Try some of this, you’ll feel better.

Could be beer, could be coffee or cigarettes or diet pills, or all of them. Meth did it for Ben.

A friend with some experience said several years ago that there was no way Ben could play at the level he did and take the volume of drugs he was supposed to be doing. Then Ben came out and said he really was doing all that.

Keith Richards never put that much stress on his heart. I don’t see Ben making it to 40. Poor bastard.

Then there’s a Jobe Watson, a Nick-like character painted with the Ben brush. Perky Girl received a voice message from Mad Sheeds on behalf of the Monaros, the next day he returned, like an Old Testament prophet, to Windy Hill. We know he loves Hird, perhaps the best player I’ve ever seen, but for gawdssake… (I don’t need to explain, you all know what I mean.)

That was the beginning of a pre-season write, I won’t bore you any longer with this out-of-date excreta.

The pre-season matches are handy for players and coaches but mean little to nothing to fans. Fans like me, anyway. The AFL season starts with Round One, Richmond v Carlton and a new, friendly-like Mick in the press conference. Anyone else figured that Mark Stevenson is a bit of a dim bulb who has decided to make his career by being the bloke that bugs Mick? The stupid chuckles of the panel seem to confirm this.

 

Mick got the word, be friendly. Ch7 came to the party and Sam Lane was nowhere to be seen. Perky Girl was enormously relieved. Mick’s presser was a beauty. He was dismissive of the questions about individuals, polite with the strategic questions and instructive. Thirty-two years of coaching, his replies to the good questions should be replayed to all prospective coaches.

 

Jonathon Brown, the one-time Boy Monster, popped up and it seems that his shoulders have migrated to his stomach. At least he didn’t have to sit around The Panel. Richo, Lingo, Wayno, all had their jackets buttoned and looked very uncomfortable. McLachlan had let go the buttons and looked relaxed.

 

Why wouldn’t he? The man knew how to knot a tie before he could walk, thus raising the question, why can’t he tell the other blokes how to dress? Yeah, they’re ex-footballers with muscle-laden shoulders, but, for gods’ sakes, they can get a custom suit and shirts. I have, and my budget don’t stretch to one fiftieth of theirs.

 

I can grow a decent moustache, if I choose to, which can’t be said for several players at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney. Bad facial hair, bad football, late in the third Sydney had just three goals so I decided to do something productive and useful, like race cars on the PS3. Few wins later, I clicked back in time to see Kieran Jack kick a captains goal to level the scores.

 

Swans’ most embarassing matches last season were the first and the last. They’ve avoided at least one of those. I had a Celibate Rifles comp on while watching, “let’s make some new mistakes, I’m sick of all the old ones” was a pertinent line.

 

Then there was the teev ad featuring Campbell Brown endorsing betting. It seemed appropriate. Raising the question, was anyone other than Patrick Smith bothered by a bet placed on an AFL players account? I wasn’t.

 

I like the Ch7 scorecard in the top left, tucked away nicely, white on blue is easy on the eyes. I was wondering about what seemed to be a Goldies logo mixed into the seats at the Terrordome, but not too much. The Monaros won. They won ugly, but a win is a win and they didn’t win ugly last year. Being two young teams, there was a lot of space on the park and I loved that.

 

Truth is, and can you keep a secret? Don’t tell anyone, but I found myself endorsing some form of, shall we say – David Parkin would love it – zone restriction.

 

I have always stood fast against anything remotely approaching an offside rule. The complete lack of such is what makes Australian Football unique among football codes. But, crikey-bloody-hell, I’ve been watching this scrum shit for years and it’s dull.

 

Last night, we went to the cinema to see Fast Furious Seven. We don’t go to the cinema often, tho we watch a hell of a lot of movies, but when we go to the cinema, we want action.

 

Thirty-six footballers within 25m of the ball is not the action I want. 18 pile in, 18 stand around waiting for the umpire to blow the whistle for another ruck contest. It’s getting like if Fast Furious Seven was filmed with Govt buses and no-one broke any traffic rules.

 

Matches between two young teams can be great, there’s risk and run and kicks and marks and, hey, you, Damien Hardwick, you listening? Jack is a full-forward. He can mark, kick, snap, goal, don’t waste him on the frigging wing.

 

Matches between Hawthorn and anyone else… How about Hawthorn and St Kilda, former co-tenants of Waverly Park, remember when StK were the stronger partner? Look at ‘em now.

 

It’s a popular theme in football media these days, look at Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney, there were all fucked not so long ago and now they are genius power teams! Anyone can do it.

 

Yeah, but time moves on and changes circumstances as it goes. Each of those teams has unique characteristics (as does Port). Will Brisbane be the next Sydney? Will Richmond be the next Hawthorn? Will Footscray be the next Geelong?

 

I don’t know. And neither do you. Wonderful, eh?

 

Cheers Tipsters

 

P&C, a Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Inc.

Brought to you with the assistance of Orange Humble Band’s “Assorted Creams.”

 

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.

Comments

  1. I don’t think I’ve read anything that summarises so perfectly how I feel about footy over the last 3-5 seasons:

    “Thirty-six footballers within 25m of the ball is not the action I want. 18 pile in, 18 stand around waiting for the umpire to blow the whistle for another ruck contest. It’s getting like if Fast Furious Seven was filmed with Govt buses and no-one broke any traffic rules.”

    Just brilliant! Well done Earl

  2. Good to have you back Earl. Love the breadth of your palette. I even understood some and agreed with most.
    Struggling a bit to get on board with all the hoopla this season. The Eagles having a shit list, injuries and Simpson having to retrain Woosha’s dumb habits out of them doesn’t help.
    Worked around the house most of Easter and the Demons captured my heart and attention more than anyone. Really enjoyed watching the last quarter. Like watching a 2yo taking first steps. They’re up. They’re about. They’re falling over. Up again. Walking – no running.
    Shit these blokes are having fun. Gold Coast looked like One Direction – shit full of themselves – but having a miserable time.
    Keep ’em coming Earl. Is there a Trans Dementia mix tape on the way?

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Steve, many thanx.
    Peter, last night must have been a beauty for you. Tho I’m wondering, which of Woosha’s dumb habits won the Wiggles a flag?
    Trans-Dementia flashdrives run to 1600 songs. Can you handle that? Check w Mark Schwerdt, he’s got one.

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