The 2017 Alexander Bell Cup – Round Eight

Greetings Tipsters


Twenty years ago, we had a cardboard ladder on the fridge. It came with the Hun in March, had the draw printed on it, press-out pieces with each teamname and slots in the middle for you to adjust the ladder every Sunday evening.


My girlfriend grew up in Melbourne and her parents would mail us all the newspaper clippings Monday. Friday lunchtime, I’d buy the Hun and study the team selections in Hyde Park.


There were four matches on telly every weekend, tho the Fri/Satnite games didn’t start until 10:30. Sat/Sunarvo games were live, we were Swans members and sat in the upper deck of the Ladies Stand drinking good red wine cos bags were never checked at that entrance. Sometimes we sat at the front window of the bar, with an ashtray and a notebook and a schooner in glass on the little shelf.


Ah, yes, the ladder. Two weeks ago everyone was tripping over their typewriters in their haste to write up the Crows as the greatest team of the Twenty First Century. Then Brad Scott figured a few things, not just the tag on Sloane but a hundred details about nullifying strengths and exploiting weaknesses of individual players, ruck tactics, attacking strategies. It worked in Hobart, cos, as Gilbert McAdam said, “Those Crows can’t handle the cold and the wind” and then it worked even better in Adelaide when Simon Goodwin figured the details and now we have to take the Fuschias much more seriously than last week whilst shaking our heads and saying “Yeah, never did rate the Crows.”


They were gonna drop one sometime, it’s the nature of the losses that have thrown pundits for a loop. Too good a team not to bounce back, you’d think. Geelong, on the other hand, haven’t been  a serious threat this season, they’ve found their level at slightly above average. Richmond are a better team all round but lack the confidence that comes with winning finals regularly, and lack a bit of nous.


Make that a lot of nous, especially when it comes to defending a narrow lead with 21 seconds on the clock. By the beard of the prophet, how did they not set up across the back of the square? It must be a Punt Rd thing, I expected better of them.


Word is, Nat was down at the Cigar Club last night and had five nips of Bushmills, Flaherty had to drive him home. He’s heard about The Algorithm, seen Jad’s instagram of his new super-blingy B&W tracksuit. 26 points up, the oppo’s down two players…  It was a tremendous match, thirteen lead changes in the second half. The Monaros have specialised in great football matches the last few weeks – aside from the last term against St Kilda, we’ve spies out tracking down rumours of roheys in the last-break Gatorade.


The Monaros have more long-haired players than any other team, it’s a lovely tribute to the HQ era. Phil Davis looks like a young, muscly version of me, sans late nights and weird company. Reminds me of those dear days when I had a jawline like Linda Evangelista and arms like daffodils.


St Kilda have impressed me more than any other team. Not that I’m tipping them for the flag, but by Christ, they’ve played some good football and really moved ahead. Worth noting that Port have the best defensive record by 10 goals. Okay, so the Schoolies helped out with that, but they beat Geelong a week earlier.


Shangai Express, 1932, wherein “A loose woman rediscovers a former lover during a dangerous train ride to Shanghai.” Indeed. Port have scored $6m in sponsorship from China and good luck to ‘em, but, for goodness sakes, this has nothing to do with Australian Football and everything to do with the brand AFL. Less honest a promotion than John Ironmonger eating raw steak before an exhibition match in Los Angeles, less useful than St Kilda playing in Wellington NZ.


Gillo reckoned it was great. How much did your hotel room cost, Gillo? Charged to the AFL of course, those several thousand dollars would be the difference between life and death for a rural club, maybe a rural league. There were slabs of unfilled stands, as oppsed to the sparse stands, the patrons of which were, according to Gillo, noshing on in the upmarket marquees backstage, as it were.


Bloody hell, it’s like a porn film shoot that only John Holmes showed up for. Well, leave it to Kochie, that genius – holy crap, if I was a Port fan, I’d have to stay well outside the ground until the absolute last minute because 40,000 people waving their Bic lighters to a turgid inxs ballad is really pushing the boundaries of what an Australian Football fan should have to put up with – to say that if just one in ten of Chinese tourists went to a match, it’d pay for itself.


Is he still on telly, on that silly morning show with a window on the street? Let’s get 100 folks to show up outside that window, we’ll be really nice and friendly and get him out on the street, then we’ll flick the Zippos and light our farts.


I’ve friends working in tourism, driving the buses, booking the tours, no way is any tourist company gonna leave them in a stadium for four hours. Ain’t no kickbacks there, sonny-jim! How about a tour company get together with the AFL and sell packages to the Prelim Finals? Might fill two A380s.


But, you say, but, as many as two million people in China watch the weekly Port match!


They’ve a ratings system? I used to work for the local TV ratings company, dodgy sampling. In a country of 1380 mil, 2 mil could be those falling asleep in front of the TV or in one of the many interior industrial cities there’s a Aussie Rules cadre or dozen, they gather in an ill-ventilated room in a wobby hi-rise and marvel at so vast a space and so fast and hard a sport and drink local moonshine and chat about going to Melbourne one day, tho it’s a distant daydream when you’re working for three hots and a cot.


Like, ahem, professional football journalists who have been writing double caffiene pieces about the Swans’ finals chances the last few days. Settle down, lads, concentrate on marketing your blog. Fanzines and forums have stolen your lofty imperium, don’t take it too harshly. Xenophon’s book is now just another project stuck in development hell.


Cheers Tipsters


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

Brought to you with the assistance of Nothing’s Shocking, Jane’s Addiction, 1988.



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. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    We have one of the cardboard ladders Earl. Came on the side of a giant Sherrin Easter Egg. Still in use on the fridge.
    Love the wrap.

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