The 2016 Bob Skilton Cup – Round 18

Greetings Tipsters


There’s a lot of things that angry up the blood and one of them is the insistence on referring to our local football code as AFL.  Happens too often.  Last week I was watching a show about U/18 indigenes playing in South Africa and they all talked about “playing AFL.”  Can’t blame the kids, that’s been the term for a long time now, but it shouldn’t be.


The game is Australian Football.  Call it Aussie Rules, call it cross-country basketball, but don’t call it AFL, cos that is the corporation that runs the elite level and manages the money.  The only people that ‘play AFL’ wear expensive suits.


Neither am I thrilled about media outlets describing soccer as ‘football’ and all the rest as AFL, NRL, etc.  They are all football.


Back when Steven Silvagni played his 300th game, there was media talk about how hard it would be for anyone to get that far again because the game was so fast, demanded so much, etc.  By Sunday evening, we’ll have ten listed players with over 300 to their name, including Brent Harvey with 427 (L88 or cammer?) and Matthew Pavlich w 350 (mighty mouse).


Fulltime professionalism has made that possible and not just because players can concentrate on nothing but football, but because clubs employ battalions of specialists.  Increased fitness led to the kids soccer/rugby maul style of play, of which I am not a fan, but has also helped some footballers play for longer.


Around the time of SOS’ third century, it was also fashionable to talk about athletes, Koutofides oft being the poster boy.  Ahem, this theory ignored Kouta’s football talent, but athleticism was the word and many worried about the loss of football smarts.  Would we ever see another Greg Williams?


Sure, his name is Sam Mitchell.  Short, slow, ‘fat’, the stacks-on-the-mill style suits him, he thrives in close contests where split-second decision making is crucial.  He has a brilliant sense of space and timing.  Stop Sam and you’ve a better chance of stopping Hawthorn.


As for the ‘fat’ thing, you need a few players built like a rugby fly-half, that low centre of gravity, big bum, thick thighs shape that can stand in a tackle and get the ball out, McLeod won two GF BoGs.  There’s also an evolutionary thing happening.


1994, I was in Thailand and met a bloke who’d been a champion college basketballer in the 1960s.  He was the same height as me, 6’ 2”.  College basketballers don’t get a look these days unless they’re 6’ 8” or more.


Marcus Bontempelli and Patrick Cripps are 6’ 4” midfielders.  They’re taller than Graham Farmer, John Nicholls and Royce Hart and everyone else in the Team Of The Century bar Steve Silvagni.  Rover of the century is 5’ 7”.


Talking about which team of history would beat another is a favourite of football nerds.  I always qualified it by saying that when the time machine brought them to the fabled ground of alltime, they’d need several months training, but that ToC mosquito fleet would need a lot going for them if they were to beat any of this year’s Eight.  Geez, Nicholls would have to get the knee in deep if he was to beat ol’ Spider Burton at a centre bounce.


A kick here or there can make all the difference, an injury can make all the more difference.  Mitch Wallis’ injury was horrific.  I haven’t had sympathy pains like that since someone slid into Joel Smith’s knee in ‘97 and bent it at a savagely unnatural angle.  I saw Nathan Brown break his leg too; he was offering advice, said the worst bit was the first two weeks at home sweating out painkillers.


Several years ago, a tree branch smashed my foot, broke four of five metatarsals.  Not being a footballer, I went to the fracture clinic, they wrapped plaster from toe to knee, much like Mitch but purple and green, and sent me home.  I don’t recall any agonising pain, just inconvenience cos my bedroom was the attic of a terrace house and the Glengarry Castle Hotel was 300 yards away.  Fortunately, someone there would always cart a jug out to the backyard for me.


What gets me about this is that Wallis is allegedly howling in agony (I didn’t, not when I smashed my foot, and not much after I sliced my finger to the bone) on a stretcher in the rooms when his teammates came in because they couldn’t get him to an ambulance.  Um, is this a ploy of some kind?  This, after Redpath does his knee and the medical staff tell him ‘nothing to worry about’ and send him back onfield where his leg promptly collapses beneath him, like Smith last year.


Reminds me of an old joke, the star rover of a country team gets concussed, the trainer tells the coach “He doesn’t know who he is or where he is!”


“Tell him he’s Bobby Skilton and he’s playing at the MCG.”


Might’ve been the Sydney/Carlton match where I noticed that the medical staff wear pink hi-vis vests, one bearing the legend ‘doctor’, the other ‘physio.’  Why?


Having worked outdoors for many years, I am not unfamiliar with the horrid, sweaty plasticity of the hi-vis vest.  Being self-employed now, I am mercifully free of the bastards.  But why does the doctor need to wear one?  Might he be mistaken for a plumber and asked to duck down to the rooms and unclog a dunny?


“Sorry, I’m a medical professional.  It says so on my back.”


“If you can clear a blocked aorta, a sewage pipe won’t bother ya.  C’mon down.”


Runners wear pink, I guess it’s the AFL-approved colour for folks who might have to run onto the field, just in case we confuse a middle-aged pudgy, balding doctor wearing trousers and a warm jumper with a footballer.  Damn, I’m glad that Gillo is keeping an eye on all these details.  Last thing we want is an aging physio being tackled by a teenager.


Michael Voss, in his playing days, said that colours didn’t matter.  You knew your teammates by the way they ran, you trained with them every day, took to the field of battle with them every week.  289 games, Brownlow medallist, triple flag captain, what would he know?  Ya gotta stick with the system, we know it works, that’s why the single most important political office in the world is being contested by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.


Cheers Tipsters


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

Brought to you with the assistance of Dolly Parton’s ‘Super Hits.’



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. Bobby Skilton, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Dolly Parton all in the same piece. Genius.
    As always.
    I would have thought the club doctor would have someone with a serious fracture pumped full of morphine within 5 minutes. Not sure why not unless it’s either a) media beatup; b) medical incompetence or c) live baiting. I’m backing a).

  2. E.regnans says

    Good brew, Earl.

    Particularly the AFL bit.
    And the attic.
    And the pink.
    All of it, really.

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    When the Schoolies went looking for the lost little girl they were wearing club shirts w blue shoulders. Uncannily like a Brisbane Lions jumper.

    Gillo’s magic bullet?

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