The 2016 Anterior Cruciate Ligament Cup – Round Twenty Two

Greetings Tipsters


Consider the knee.  Unlike the uni-joint of the ankle, it’s hinged to move in one plane, it has to put up with lateral movement and jumping up and down on it all the time strains it hard.  Nic’s injury seemed pretty innocuous at first but concerned faces all round let us know that it was rather more grave.


Few minutes later, Ceglar’s knee took a holiday too.  Granted, Nic’s absence will affect his team far more than Jonno’s but it raises the old question about the value of ruckmen.  North have been much less of a team with Goldstein struggling, highlighted by Tippett and Naismith working him over on Saturday.  Mumford is probably the single most important player in the Monaros.


Footscray, by contrast, have mostly run-with pinch-hitting kids and it’s worked for them.  Were it not for an horrific injury toll, they’d be looking at a Qual Final.  Final word goes to Allan Jeans who told Paul Salmon during his time at Hawthorn that “we’d have won a few more flags if you’d been rucking.”


At least Jonathon Giles gets a chance for a call-up.  The first GWS player to make 50 games, I got to see a bit of him.  Outclassed in the AFL but the definition of “big hearted trier”, it’d be great to see him get to play in a final or two.


There’s no hiding in a crowd anymore, as Banana Woman discovered on the weekend.  Credit to her dad for ringing 5AA and defending her and for saying “She’s not a ratbag.”  Ratbag is a wonderful piece of our local vernacular and should be heard more often.  I’m gonna start right now:  From all accounts, she is a bit of a ratbag.  The bloke who has had to sit behind her all season is glad she’s out, her language and attitude were embarrassing and offensive.


The banana has me intrigued.  Did she plan on throwing it at Eddie?  Was she thinking, when looking through her kitchen for a convenient, healthy football snack, “Apple, no racial connotations there, orange, no, banana, yeah, awright!  Eddie will cop it!  The other Eddie will love it!”


People may have objections to cultural practices like clitoridectomies but to hate someone purely because of their ethnicity is something I just don’t understand.  Eddie Betts is a player who has always seemed to be well-loved by all for his freakish skills, big grin, baggy shorts, except when he’s kicking goals against your team.  Then you hate him like you’d hate any other player, i.e., until the end of the match or until you’ve properly vented your spleen.


“Goddamn you Betts, ya flipping bastard, kicking four impossible goals outa yr arse!”


No need for boong, nigger, etc.  Eddie’s a bloke, like all of us blokes, but he has talent and self-discipline.  So what if he’s a blackfella?


What if the next Eddie Betts was named Tran Tinh Nguyen or Ahmed al-Heraza?  Would the likes of Banana Woman be packing egg noodles or felafels?  You can buy both at the Showground, meat pies and burgers too, in case you have something against Anglo-Celtics.


I’m pretty much a free-speech absolutist and incidents like this illustrate why.  How are you gonna call out petty bigotry if you don’t know it exists, if you don’t have examples like Banana Woman?


And, on top of that, how are you gonna fluff up your own self-righteousness without her and her confreres?  I hate to quote lesser writers but Rohan Connolly’s work demands it.


“Hearing directly from her own club’s seven Indigenous players just how damaging and hurtful her attitudes are is going to be a lot more confronting, and hopefully, embarrassing.”  Never mind about trifles like educating, let’s just embarrass her.


There was another piece prominently featuring the first-person pronoun in full self-justifying glory but it’s disappeared in the last twenty minutes.


Bigotry is inherent, it’s how us monkeys make us feel better about ourselves.  Justin Bieber fans must be sooo stupid.  Kim Kardashian is trash.


My sister married a blackfella.  Actually, a yellafella, as Terry, born in Fannie Bay, explained to me.  We didn’t give it a  thought until their daughter went to work as a cop in Redfern and the Eveleigh St mob said “You’re one of us, sister.”


Is it an issue?  Should I sit down with my smart, down-to-earth, mother of two rambunctious sons, annoyed that her knee injury kept her from driving the Police Porsche niece and ask her “How does it feel…?”  Of course not.


February ’08, I got mugged, escaped death by an inch.  When I fell back my head hit the edge of the curb so my skull was only cracked.  Had I been standing slightly forward, the back of my skull would’ve hit the footpath like an egg.  Three days in St Vincent’s Hospital with people asking me my name every few hours, if the food wasn’t so terrible I’d have said “Sonny Liston” or “King Edward Third.”


I was living in Darlington, a couple hundred yards from Redfern station.  I later heard that some bad ice had hit the area, the assailant wasn’t a local but known, angry blackfella on twisted meth.  Medical professionals told me not to ride or drive so I had to take the train to work. Months or years later friends told me that they thought I was gone for good.


Taking the train meant – sheesh…  I’m gonna take a rest and come back to this.


I was reading Martin Amis’ ‘The Rachel Papers’ on the train and cackling such that I’d have the top deck to myself by the time we crossed The Bridge.


Crikey, struth, flippin’ heck.


If you know Redfern, you might know that the blackfellas rarely crossed Lawson St unless they were busking.  I’d get off the train in the afternoon, I got used to it.  The footballs that’d slam into the brick wall a foot or two ahead of me, too hard and sharp a kick to not be a deliberate miss, the yelling, “I fucked your mother, you white cunt.”


Never occured before I was mugged.  They knew what had happened, were making the most of it.  Was I bothered by the most outstanding example of racial abuse I’d ever heard?


Not a bit.  I’m a whitefella going home to a nice house with three lovely femme flatmates.  “Great kick, you should be playing in the SFL.”


They yelled back, it became a game that they gave up on after a few weeks.  Three months after the injury, I lied to a neurosurgeon and got back on the motorcycle.  Three years later I had to go see another neurosurgeon to get a clean bill of health for the railways job (disastrous career choice) and, for the first time, saw the scans of my brain.  One third blood.


Where am I going with this?  I don’t know.  I do know that being born an Australian white male in an aspirational middle-class family in 1966, with brains and looks thrown in, has made me one of the luckiest bastards that ever lived.  Travelling through Asia and Africa reinforced that, every time I turn on the hot water I thank the gods.


Vision of the round was Daw and Aliir chasing the ball, glistening black skin, green turf, blue and white and red and white, brilliant image and a hint of a future.


I was in Zimbabwe in late ’94, I noticed a few locals wearing a t-shirt with a pic of Martin Luther King on the front and words on the back and a stars and stripes motif.  We went out to the local supermarket on the far edge of town, they were surprised to see us, I bought the smallest t-shirt and it was still far too big.


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


Cheers, Tipsters

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

Brought to you with the assistance of every blissful soul and R&B and blues song I’ve ever loved.

PS – Martin’s full speech –


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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. Breathtaking. Love the “where is he going next?” nature of the way you think and write. Any MLK or Abe Lincoln quote pretty much reduces me to tears.
    I want someone to set an Eddie Betts highlights reel to Sam Cooke doing “Twistin’ the Night Away”. Are Trans Dementia Productions up to the task? The story of your head injury explains the name.

  2. Earl.
    Deepest thanks.

    Your view seems to slant in from another plane. Or from a parallel universe.
    And today I am lifted there.

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Thanks folks. I thought a lot about whether to post this, then, as usual, “the hell with it, throw it out there”
    Peter, the name references a band I played in a long time ago and predates the injury by several years.
    Swampy, if it was worth the ride, then I am humbled.

  4. Superb Earl thank you

  5. That’s huge. Thanks Earl. And filled with the spirit of trying to make sense of it all. It’s complex. Your piece makes me think , and feel.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    That’s a gem Earl. It’s wonderful pieces like yours that help us examine the content of our character. We never stop learning and I hope that young fan can look beyond what she has come to know so far.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Glad you threw it out there Earl, I’m just not sure how much of it I caught. I’ll keep thinking.

    If I spent all my time getting outraged by fools, idiots, bigots etc, I wouldn’t have any time to appreciate the good things in life.But I can’t pretend that it is acceptable either.

  8. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Hey Earl. Love the ducking and weaving. A fine way to make some sense.
    I lived 12 months in Darlington wth a two year old. Redfern every day. Still my favourite place to have lived. Letting worlds collide and wash through. Feeling all the things you say … discomfort and luck and whole hearted bloody sadness and plain old normal to boot.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Superb Earl.
    Zimbabwe 1994. Before the shit hit the fan. Was a great country. Was ’94 it’s peak?
    Absolutely love the lesser writers line….

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