The 2018 Eddie Betts Cup

Greetings Tipsters


The Seven Network had better things to do with its Sydney airtime than the Richmond v Geelong match. Two episodes of Ice Road Truckers, three of American Dad. NITV telecast a NEAFL match, Aspley Hornets v NT Thunder, it was great, featured a lot of space. Remember when space was a defining feature of Australian Football at all levels? Now we have an elite game played by the same rules, yet a different game to that of country and suburban leagues.


Gawd, I’ve been banging on about this kinda stuff for years. ’01 or so, I wrote that fulltime professionalism and the consequent increase in player fitness would lead to coaches having a much greater influence on the style of the game; been writing about the rugby-style mauls for ten years; calling for the return of the nineteenth man for at least three; describing Lethal’s Lions as the last of the classic football teams for a lot longer.


Cast your mind back to a dim past when it was claimed that Australian Football was a game for all shapes and sizes. Dean Rioli was perhaps the last ‘AFL’ player you could say that about. Nowadays midfielders are the size of a centre half-forward of twenty years back. Wayne Carey played at 210lbs, 6 foot 4. Royce Hart, 190, 6’1”. John Nicholls, 215, 6’2”. Nat Fyfe, 203, 6’3”.


It still is a game for all shapes and sizes below VFL, SANFL, WAFL. There were a few blokes in the NEAFL match with something more than the inverted triangular torso we’ve come to expect from the elite, and it warmed my heart to see them.


The game has always evolved. You may recall the kerfuffle over Rodney Eade’s ‘flooding’ in ’96 – little more than a spare man in the backline. Go back a bit further, there were several centurion goalkickers in the 1930s, then none aside from John Coleman until the late 1960s, then a flood of them! Kick your hundredth goal of the season and thousands of fans run onto the ground. Lay your hundredth tackle and no-one gives a shit, except that tackles are the new goals if you listen to coaches’ press conferences.


Eighteen teams is too many for the talent pool. I suspected that sixteen might be stretching it – not quite, we coped. Wayne Schwass said that eighteen was two too much and I read the opinions on the GWS FB fan page. Bloody hell, did any of these people watch the game ten years ago? According to some, Wayne is a clueless idiot – those folks have never seen him on the Marn Grook show, he’s sharp – and they carry on about Victorian luddites and such.


Oh, crikey and bloomin’ heck. Antisocial media.


When we lived in Camperdown we could walk to Henson Park and catch a NEAFL match. Cheap beer, sit on the hill, do a spliff, enjoy the match. We caught Sydney Uni v NT Thunder one day, a week later I saw the replay on NITV and Gilbert McAdam was calling it. Missed a chance to shake his hand and maybe have a quick chat.


All the big jrnos been banging on about the state of the game lately. Yeah, good onyas, thanx for catching up with me.


People refer to it as ‘AFL’ and not Australian Football or Aussie Rules – and that aint just a Sydney thing, folks from South Australia say it, lifelong Rugby League fans refer to their game as NRL. Oh, by the gods, there is a difference between the game and the organisation that manages it.


Everything changes, always. Whether for the better is oft a perception. I figured the ’03 invasion of Iraq would be a geo-strategic disaster, for instance. While I understand why the ‘AFL’ want to stake a claim in western Sydney and Gold Coast, I don’t necessarily think it’d work – especially in Queensland.


Ah, the hell with it. I rarely listen to music recorded after I was born – mid-1966 – most of my fave movies are black and white; Rififi, Red Dust, Big Sleep, His Girl Friday, Twelve O’clock High, It Happened One Night, Night Of The Hunter. Maybe it’s just time and the passing of it. Us homo sapiens had as much as 300,000 years being hunter-gatherers. 7000 years of an agricultural society, 200 of a mechanical society, 10-20 of a digital society. I aint sure we can adapt that quickly.


Eddie Betts, he of the big shorts and bigger grin, the most beloved of footballers, stood for a pic with an oppo fan and copped a bigoted response. He declined to pursue the matter, saying that if he did so, the kid who wrote it might get bullied at school. Eddie didn’t want to cause that. Yep, that’s a man.


Cheers Tipsters


P&C A Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production

Brought to you with the assistance of Mamas and Papas; all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.


PS – Sydney Almanackers, Jan, Mathilde, Dan, me, etc, we oughta organise a meeting at Henson Park and celebrate pure football.


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. Ian Hauser says

    All so true, Earl, all so true! Set positions, man-on-man, space, different types for different positions, open play, none of this interchange shenanigans or rotations – is it all in our dreams or did it really happen? Only the quagmires brought on the congestion. When did you last see a good quagmire? Glenferrie in about ’73? Maybe Arden Street a bit later in the decade? Bah, humbug!

  2. Earl. You got a great future as a movie reviewer. Casablanca. Double Indemnity.
    There is great music recorded today (listen to Jason Isbell) but I keep coming back to Bob Dylan and the Band circa 1965-70. “Virgil Cain is my name…” “See the man with the Stage Fright….”
    Swans – West Coast was the best NRL game played in Sydney this season. Wake me in August when winter hibernation is over and footy breaks out.

  3. E.regnans says

    Hey Earl- gimme a good few days notice on the Hensen Park plan.
    Love this.
    Just the ticket.
    *tips hat*

  4. Tom Bally says

    Earl. I could manage a beer or three at Henson Park.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I might move to Sydney

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Let’s do it Earl!! I’ve watched UNSW play USYD and UTS in the past couple of weeks. All shapes and sizes, immobile position play, some very decent skills at times. I’ve also learnt a lot about dog breeds! I’ll bring the Makovyi torte from Illi Hill. And a flask of Scottish Whiskey.

    Well noted re the speed of adaption we (the game etc) are currently pressed to. My fella always says that I am born for the French 17th century. That’s why life feels so odd …

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