The 2017 Whitney Mercilus Cup

Greetings Tipsters


There’s been some savage heat lately, it caught up with me this week, so I’m at home today writing about summer instead of being out working in it.


Detroit Lions made the playoffs, however briefly.  Calvin Johnson’s retirement after last season was a blow, but he’d been double and triple-teamed throughout his career so it’s understandable.  Matthew Stafford improved bigtime, thanks in large part to the plays devised by the new Offensive Co-ordinator, Jim Bob Cooter.  Aint that a fantastic name?  The defence is sloppy and eight of their nine wins came with game-winning drives in the last quarter, sometimes in the last few seconds.  That’s impressive, and an NFL record, but not the mark of a team ready to cause some damage in the playoffs.  They didn’t win after Stafford dislocated the middle finger on his passing hand.


Test cricket, I don’t need to go into too much detail, it’s already been covered, but can we just get back to selecting the best players for domestic cricket?  Sure, youth is good, but the age-quota crap has gotta be canned.  I tried to watch some BBL, never managed a full over.  It’s cricket, Jim, but not as we know it.  Well, not as I like it.  I was never big on 50 over cricket either.  I remember reading a piece by Bill O’Reilly some 35 years ago in which he wrote that the best way to win a 50 over match was to select eleven batsmen.


When T20 was introduced I dreamed one night of a stadium with stands stacked hundreds of metres high and the batsman suspended on a bungee cord.  I oughta copyright that idea and sell it to the IPL.


Few months back, Tal contacted me and said he had a drumkit again and wanted to have a bash.  I hadn’t thought of playing music since I ripped the tip off the third finger of my left hand in a gardening accident two years ago.  I’d wondered what it would be like to see your own bone, now I know.  There’s no flesh, or pulp, as the surgeon described it, on that finger, just nerve-free skin.  But Tal’s an old mate and I figured it’d be some good fun.  I might even rediscover my natural bass guitar rhythm, that’d seemed lost when my foot got smashed by a tree branch in Vaucluse in late ’08.


Rob, another mate, was asked to play guitar.  It’d been some years since I’d played music, it was a coupla decades for those two.  We had a few rehearsals in my loungeroom, then a couple in a studio.  Tal and I hit it off, he’s got a great style and a fantastic constant eighth on the kick drum.  Rob didn’t work out so well, I like his style but he has a different approach, so I sent him a utoob of Cosmic Psychos’ ‘You’re Out Of The Band.’


It was good for all of us to get some practice in and he’s got a direction he wants to head in.  Then I rang Dave, it’s 31 years since we first played in a band and seven since we last did, we know each other’s style and I figured he’d like Tal’s drumming.


Tal, Rob and I learned four songs: I Just Wanna Have Something To Do; Born To Lose; Rocking In The Free World; Hindu Gods Of Love.  Dave and I have played Free World in a few bands, so he knew that and the first time we did it Sunday, I ‘sang’ like I haven’t in years.  I was imagining playing the Presidential Inauguration, I ripped into it.


Dave hadn’t learned the licks to Hindu Gods so after the second chorus we went on an extended exploration of G.  At Tal’s suggestion, we tried ‘Susie Q’.  There’s a guitar lick in E and a B and A, so we had an extended go at that, complete with improvised lyrics that I can’t remember and were probably innapproriate to reproduce here.  Tal brought it to a halt and said “we can’t play it forever” and then we played it again.


‘Lollies and Ice Cream’ is a number I put together in December, ‘walking down the street with my baby, going to the corner shop, we’re gonna get some super candy, gonna get soda pop’, it lasts all of 70 seconds.  I like short sharp songs.  Chekhov said, “Odd, I now have a mania for shortness.  Whatever I read – my own or other people’s works – it all seems to me not short enough.”  So we played that a few times, that’ll come together, just a matter of them learning the stops.


‘Living In Sin’ ain’t quite together, needs a propulsive rhythm, but we banged away it for a few minutes and got some ideas, I figured a coupla chord changes for the chorus, like coming out of it on the A then back to the E that the verse hangs on.


Then – I’ve wanted to try this for a long time – we had a go at ‘Hotel California.’  See, Tal can sing in tune, unlike me, but doesn’t want to sing lead and play drums.  I did a spoken word vocal and he sung the chorus behind me, sounded great.  Gonna be loud noisy bits and tight fast bits, we’ll learn a lot from simply learning that song.  Tal is a vastly superior drummer to Don Henley.


When Dave and I were in The Smokers in the 90s, I wanted to do a surf instrumental version of the Swans’ song so we could play it pre-game.  Now, I reckon The Renters should work up a surf instrumental version of the Monaros’ song.  Where can we get ahold of some Cossack dancers?


The GWS Toranas debut this weekend.  Great timing, I get to watch some Australian Football this weekend, then the Superbowl with my oldest friend Colleen on Monday.  I worked on Australia Day, but I won’t work on Superbowl Day.  Unfortunately, the Toranas have but two games in Sydney, both in Blacktown, one at midday Saturday, when I’ll be working, one at 1705 Friday, when I’ll be flaking out on the couch.  The only Toranas match on FTA is against the Bulldogs but at least it’s a Sat eve.


A lot of the players have long hair, which I love, but I wonder how long it’ll last.  Can’t be all that practical, tho worth noting that Matthew Richardson had his best goalkicking season when he had hair longer than mine.


Funny, ain’t it, how tennis is the only sport that has attracted an audience for the women’s comp for most of the last few decades.  Mayhap, that’s about to change.  The AFLW could lead to a greater audience for Women’s Cricket, f’rinstance, for the Matildas and the Jillaroos.  Let’s hope so.  I’ve been going to the football with women for years, they get to say “Mmm, I like his shoulders!”, now I get to say that too.  Sort of, swap ‘his’ for ‘hers.’


Watching the Ladies’ Melbourne v Footscray match last year, I loved seeing Moana Hope split packs like no-one since Tony Lockett.  Women have a lower aerobic capacity than men, skills and smarts will be of greater importance.  That’s gotta be good for football.  I’m looking forward to it.


Cheers, Tipsters


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

Brought to you with the assistance of a bunch of songs buzzing around in my head – how about The Renters cover ‘Green Tambourine’?


PS – Whitney Mercilus, outside linebacker for the Steelers, has the greatest name of any footballer that lived and plays in the perfect position for it.


PPS – I may have rediscovered my rhythm.  I used to keep rhythm by jumping around in time, a broken foot impedes that.  Sunday, I closed my eyes and jumped around, I wore an idiot grin, I nearly fell over a few times.  I play barefoot.

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. Good to hear you are back on the axe, Earl. Watch out for the toes. Rockin’ in the Free World is a great song. Green Tambourine was a fave as a teenager. It shimmered.
    NFL playoffs have largely been dull after some great end of season games. I will be barracking for the Falcons. Julio Jones is a joy to watch. But the Patriots are like our Hawks. Hard to kill. They keep getting up.

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