The 2016 Frank O’Neill Cup – Round Thirteen

Greetings Tipsters


Only six games this week, very traditional.  Maybe next year they could be played between the Vic and ex-Vic teams, at Kardinia Park and MCG and Terrordome with the roof open and Junction Oval.  With any luck it’d be a ‘spectacle’ such as the SCG on Sunday.  Was that traditional or what?


It was the Eighty-First birthday of my father, Francis Patrick O’Neill, so a bunch of us were there, Dad, Mum, their four kids and spouses (from the first wedding, it took nearly 36 years for us all to be married at the same time), five of seven grandchildren and both great-grandchildren.  We had great seats, third row from the fence, tho I was the only one to take advantage of them.  You might have seen me on telly in the first term, but I did the family thing thereafter and hung out undercover.


Perky Girl and I figured the weather was a good excuse to wear our motorcycle leathers.  Riding with far more caution than I usually display, occurred to me that Rita’s sidestand might sink into the wet ground.  When we rode up Driver Ave, I remembered the figtree roots snaking about the bikepark.  Which is free and damn close to the gate.


As you’d expect, there was a lot of slipping and sliding by the blokes chasing the ovaloid hunk of soap.  My favourite moment came in the first, when an overly optimistic Demon had a bounce.  For all the rain, Sydney’s four goals in four minutes in fourth term was a treat.


As I write, it’s third term from the Terrordome and too embarassing to watch.


I haven’t been to the SCG for two years, when I wrote a twisted match review.  I remember smoking a spliff on the hill in ‘93, sharing cigs with St Kilda fans during the ’98 final, running onto the field barefoot when Tony kicked his Hundredth in ’95, saw him upclose, he didn’t want the attention.


The catering at the SCG is appalling.  Fish and chips, meat pies, domino pizza, lousy and overpriced.  Perky Girl went for a coffee at halftime, I strolled the 100 yards to the other end of the Trumper Stand with her, there were 15-20 people on the queue, the kids running the machine were teaching themselves the job, poor bastards, I said “I’ll see you for the fourth” but it was only 20 minutes before she got back with a lukewarm instant coffee made by a digitised version of the Cafemaker, in offices thirty years ago.


Meanwhile, I’d approached a staff member who’d spent the match leaning against a low wall and gazing blankly at the fans neath cover.


“Excuse me, could you move, you are blocking the view of these people”, gesturing with a grand sweep of my arm.


He followed me back to my seat, working thru his store of comments, including “Are these YOUR seats?” and  “We all have a job to do.”


I looked him in the eye from a three inch advantage, “I’m a paying customer, I asked you to move because you were blocking our view and now you’re being rude?”


Didn’t see him again.  Leathers make me look like I’ve got Majak Daw’s shoulders – he has the most impressive shoulders and arms in the AFL, but, by crikey, he’s got skinny legs.


The Showground has vastly better food than the SCG but the groundstaff are equally obtuse.  Last year we were refused entrance to our preferred seating because we didn’t have tickets for that area.  We were members, there were hundreds of unoccupied seats but, no, that’s the rules.


Australians, we like to kid ourselves that we’re rebellious larrikins, but when the whistle blows we yell and complain and go with the decision.  1984, my first chance to vote and I cast it for the one who had the least chance, I wanted to help ‘em get their deposit back.  Haven’t changed.


Monaros got away with it, fitness was gonna see ‘em over the line.  Full credit to Essendon, they had a red-hot dip in the first half.  Early on, it was 1.7 to the visitors and 1.0 to the home team who saw a chance and let rip.


A few weeks ago everyone, even me, was banging on about what an even comp it was and how any of seven could win the flag.  Folks, the good times are over, it’s time for Claude Rains to round up the usual suspects.


The heavy grounds of winter sort it out.  Pity that the bye round breaks it up, but maybe there’s a mind-press happening as well.  North were all over Hawthorn but when they’d kicked 3.7 I knew the Hawks would win.  North had a go but couldn’t nail it.  Scray couldn’t nail it early when they had chances.


So it’s Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney, a kick here or there can make all the difference.  2014, Hawthorn built the season around beating Sydney in the Grand Final but barely scraped past Port in the prelim, been found out by young fast teams.  A prelim against the Monaros wouldn’t be straightforward.


Meanwhile, against all expectations, Freo are the form team.  Won the last three, giving the kids a run…


There be some elemental truth in sport, the purity of the contest, tribalism satisfies deep-seated needs, we cheer the local champion.  I’m a Celt, my ancestors hew each other with swords, footballers have it easy.


I used to wonder how football journalists could ever find enough to write about until I noticed that they get articles out of what I give a sentence.  They’ve more time than me and many more contacts in their fones.


Does Caro have Fast Eddie’s fone #?  Is Big Ed messing with his ibogaine again?


Edward Joseph McGuire, may he be tortured by Catholic Guilt, reckoned it worth $50K for Caro to be held underwater in next years ice slide.  His acolytes laughed along with him.


Eddie has the right to say any damn thing that moseys into his head and Gillo has the right and the responsibility to catch him in an elevator, stop it between floors, grab his throat, “We’re running a billion dollar business here, shut the fuck up quiz show boy, it’s high time you retired.”


(Lengthy pause – that was Sunday eve, it’s now Tuesday arvo and my back is damn sore, had to leave some trees untrimmed lest I seize up and forever be stuck holding a two-stroke machine above my head.)


You might think that decades of media experience has taught Ed what not to say, but egotistical bullying has worked for him so far, why stop now?  Send him back to Sydney, we showed that smug Scorpio bastard where he squats on the totem pole.


His self-importance is astonishing.  He ‘thought’ for 24 hours – “I spent a long time because I wanted to get it right, I want to get the feelings that I felt inside, and not only that, I wanted to make sure, to work through the touchstones of everybody.”


Work through the touchstones of everybody?!  Was that something that came out of his two meetings with the CFC PR squad and his five conversations with Phil Cleary and Rose Batty?  A week after tens of thousands of people heard it and no-one gave a peep until Erin Riley?  And what the hell is his problem with Caro?  Does he nurse a grievance ‘cos her dad was Richmond president in 1980?


“Work through the touchstones of everybody”


One year on a desert island with the Oxford English Dictionary, Thesaurus, Rules Of Grammar And Syntax, the Oxford Book Of English Verse, the Oxford Book Of American Verse, to start.  Another topic every eight weeks, ancient history, Classic philosophy religion, struth!  I meant to condemn Eddie but described my vision of heaven instead.


Cheers Tipsters


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

Brought to you with the assistance of wind and rain.


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. Rulebook says

    Goes stuff,Earl I particularly enjoyed the line re how you voted the 1st time ( wet one here thurs night re crows and roos)

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Happy Birthday Frank.

    I saw quizshow boy only too closely a few years ago. Thought I was gonna swipe $250k from him until he asked me how many riders there are in a polo team. Conspiracy.

  3. Earl,
    Your weekly stream of consciousness contains more grains of insight than a hundred “Talking Footy’s”.
    “They get articles out of what I give a sentence.” Brilliant. I try to get just enough footy to maintain the interest and connection, but the commercial exploitation implicit in all professional sport means chopping down the walls to feed the fire. Yawn – as you say.
    “Quiz show boy” is an elegant skewering.
    PS – are wind and rain an offshoot of Earth, Wind and Fire?

  4. Earl O'Neill says

    Book, six day break and a flight for North to meet Crows who’ve had a week off. Who wrote that part of the draw?
    Mark, I ‘ll pass your greetings along.
    Peter, more an unintentional Hollys reference.

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